The NFL season is down to eight teams. The Divisional Round features some interesting matchups with the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs big favorites at home versus the surprising Cleveland Browns, and Tom Brady a playoff underdog for just the eighth time in his career on the road in New Orleans.
What games should bettors be eyeing this weekend? Our sports betting team of Thomas Casale, Vikas Chokshi, Reed Wallach, and Lucy Burdge broke down all four games to come up with their best bets for the Divisional Round.
Odds are as of Friday morning at sportsbook listed.
Casale: Gus Edwards Over 35.5 Rushing Yards (FanDuel Sportsbook)
This number looks too low to me. The emergence of J.K. Dobbins is creating value on Edwards' rushing yards prop this weekend.
Gus the Bus has gone over this total in six straight games since Mark Ingram became a non-factor in Baltimore's offense. While Dobbins is now the top dog, the Bus still gets opportunities, averaging just under 10 caries over that six-game stretch. If he gets 9-10 carries on Saturday, I like Edwards to hit this over pretty easily.
The Bills weakness on defense is stopping the run. Bad news: That plays right into the Ravens' hands. Buffalo allowed 97 yards per game to running backs during the regular season. The Colts racked up 163 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per carry against Buffalo last weekend. Defenses that struggle to stop the run in the playoffs don't fix that problem overnight. Win or lose, look for the Ravens' ground game to have success on Saturday night.
Dobbins' rushing yards total is 57.5. I like that too but give me Edwards at the better value. Ride the Bus to over 35.5 rushing yards.
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Chokshi: Los Angeles Rams +6.5 (BetMGM)
I know Aaron Rodgers is one of the best of all-time, but in the playoffs, it's all about matchups.
Defensively, teams that had success against AR in the past have been able to bring pressure with their front four. The Rams front four, led by Aaron Donald, will be able to do just that. Los Angeles comes into this game ranked fourth overall in Defensive DVOA per Football Outsiders. Look for them to slow down this Packers offense just enough to cover the number.
Speaking of defense, Green Bay is ranked 18th in Defensive Rush DVOA. That is important in this situation because the Rams are terrific at running the football (4th in Offensive Rush DVOA). I envision Cam Akers having a monster game, so be sure to check out some of his prop overs as well. Running the football will also allow the Rams to win time of possession and keep the ball away from Rodgers.
Lastly, Los Angeles CB Jalen Ramsey has played at an elite level this season. While DaVante Adams is one of the best wide receivers in the game and is tough to contain, Ramsey can at least slow him down.
BetQL also sees a close game, projecting this spread at +4, which makes me feel better about grabbing the points here.
If you do like the Rams, I suggest shopping around for the best line. With the public all over the Pack in this one, you might be able to get +7 closer to game-time.
Wallach: Baltimore Ravens +3 (BetMGM)
The warning signs should be going off for Buffalo after a shaky win over the Colts last Saturday. Indianapolis was able to control field position and time of possession with a dominant run game, averaging over five yards per carry. If not for some poor execution in high leverage situations, the Colts may have pulled the upset.
Now, the Bills get Lamar Jackson and a Ravens offense that is run heavy and coming off six straight wins. Jackson needs to buck a lot of narratives this postseason and erasing a 10-0 deficit against Tennessee on the road last week was a good start. Jackson ran for 136 yards in his first postseason win.
Buffalo is 28th in the league in opponent rushing success rate and 29th in explosive rush rate. This is a recipe for disaster against Jackson and the Ravens' run-first offense.
There is a chance of snow in the forecast Saturday night, but more importantly, some wind. If the winds, currently projected between 14-16 miles per hour, impact downfield throws, that will stymie the Buffalo passing game and force them into more run-heavy schemes.
This could be trouble for Buffalo, who lost Zack Moss to an ankle injury last weekend. Josh Allen is a capable runner, but Baltimore has a top five rush defense, which was on display last weekend, limiting Derrick Henry to 40 yards on 18 carries.
The Ravens win this one outright, but I recommend taking the +3 just to be safe.
Burdge: Cleveland Browns +10 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Don’t underestimate the Browns against the heavily-favored Chiefs. After Cleveland steamrolled over the Steelers last weekend, I’m convinced anything is possible. Baker Mayfield has defeated Patrick Mahomes before in college, but has yet to beat him in the NFL. Baker may not get the win on Sunday, but expect a close, competitive game.
The Chiefs’ starters have been resting since before their regular season finale, so they might have some cobwebs to shake off, which works in the Browns’ favor. The last time Cleveland beat Kansas City was in 2012, but the Browns are riding high after upsetting Pittsburgh. They could ride that high all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Take the 10 points with Cleveland.