NFL Playoffs: Betting trends and picks for Sunday's Divisional Round games

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Sunday’s Divisional Round double-header features two great matchups with the Cleveland Browns facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, while the Tampa Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints meet for the third time this season. We have you set with this week’s line movement, trends and analysis.

Also, we added BetQL’s pick for each matchup with the model’s projected point spread.

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Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-10, 57.5), 3:05 PM EST

The point spread has held steady at Chiefs -10 even though BetMGM reports that 66% of tickets and 59% of the handle are on the underdog Browns as of Friday.

As for the total, there has been considerable movement. After opening at 54.5, BetMGM has pushed the line to the highest of the weekend, 57.5, behind 78% of tickets and 89% of the handle on the over.

Trends

-- Andy Reid is 16-12-1 to the under as a playoff coach.

-- Postseason favorites of 10 or more points are 12-8 against the spread since 2005.

-- Postseason road underdogs that are coming off an outright win as a road underdog are 19-25 ATS since 2004.

-- The Chiefs are 1-7 ATS over their last eight games.

Picks

We know Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense is outstanding, but the KC defense is not much to write home about. The Chiefs allowed an opponents rushing success rate of 54% during the regular season, which is 26th out of the 32 NFL teams.

This is great news for the Browns, whose offense is predicated on their ground game. In the regular season, 48.4% of the team’s plays were runs, fourth most in the NFL. Behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Cleveland has a path to move the ball down the field.

It’s worth noting that there are some questions on the Cleveland offensive line. All-Pro Jack Conklin got hurt in the Wild Card game at Pittsburgh and has not practiced this week. However, the team is set to get Joel Bitonio back after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Cleveland should be able to move the ball and convert in close. KC has the worst red zone defense in the league, allowing touchdowns on more than 76% of opponents drives inside the 20. If Cleveland can cash in on opportunities inside the red zone, they can hang around inside the point spread.

While I don’t foresee an outright upset, I think the combination of getting head coach and play caller Kevin Stefanski back after his positive COVID-19 test, and the Chiefs inability to get stops, can lead to a Browns cover.

BetQL’s model is close to the spread, but sees slight value in backing Cleveland. They have the spread set at Kansas City -9.5.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3, 51.5)

BetMGM opened this game with the Saints -3.5, but quickly moved down to -3. As of Thursday afternoon, 52% of the tickets are on Tampa Bay but 55% of the handle are backing New Orleans.

The total ticked up a point after opening at 50.5, motivated by 73% of the tickets and 78% of the handle on the over.

Trends

-- Since 2005, underdogs are 12-8-1 ATS when it is a divisional matchup in the postseason, 11-9-1 to the under.

-- The team trying to sweep a three-game series against an opponent in the postseason is 12-5 at home straight up and 9-8 ATS, per Football Perspective.

-- Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is 4-3 both straight up and against the spread as a postseason underdog.

-- Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 3-7 ATS as a playoff favorite.

Picks

New Orleans was able to handle Tampa Bay easily this season, winning 34-23 in Week 1 and 38-3 in Week 10. However, Drew Brees has since broken 11 ribs and suffered a collapsed lung, while Tampa Bay offense seems to be firing on all cylinders.

There is a ton of familiarity between these two and that is why typically when divisional foes meet for a third time in the postseason, the underdog and the under cash. These teams know how to scheme against one another.

I show some slight value to Tampa Bay at +3, but I am not playing that myself. I opted to bet the under at 52 and would play it down to 51. The Saints’ path to success is going to be methodical drives with success underneath. That’s really all Brees can do at this point with his diminishing arm strength. Brees is 35th of 36 qualified passers in Pro-Football Reference’s database in intended air yards per pass attempt, averaging just six yards per attempt.

Special teams could also play a factor in this matchup. Tampa Bay kicker Ryan Succop has had an up and down year and missed an extra point last Saturday. Meanwhile, Saints kicker Will Lutz has hit just three of his last seven field goals dating back to Week 13. This game is sure to be tight and mishaps on special teams can impact the outcome.

BetQL sees slight value on the Bucs as well, they install them as 2.5-point underdogs on Sunday.