The second round of the playoffs brings the divisional round into play. Find out what NFL odds are currently in swing and where the value NFL picks are to be had in straight up betting.
Ravens +235 vs. Patriots -290
The Baltimore Ravens underscore their dangerous floater playoff credentials with yet another road upset behind a 30-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Joe Flacco improves to 5-0 SU in the playoffs since 2012, prompting coach Harbaugh to call him the best quarterback ever. Both are sure to be tested on Saturday when they descend on the Foxboro, two years upon their AFC final showdown which the Ravens won 28-13 en route to the Super bowl title.
It's going to be a hard act to follow. Not only because it's a round earlier than that defining win in 2012 AFC Conference showdown, but also because the Patriots' nigh sublime form at home during the regular season. Patriots went 7-1 SU, their only blemish a week 17 loss to the Buffalo Bills, which to all intents and purposes was a meaningless game in the broad spectrum of the playoffs. Patriots had already clinched the No.1 seed in the AFC a week earlier. Winning that game wouldn't have bettered their position, obviously, and they didn't risk too much especially after going down early, mindful they had bigger fish to fry (or birds, you could say).
Having skipped the first round of the playoffs with a bye, the Patriots are well rested, fit and raring to go. Tom Brady has had a solid season and Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have been huge go-to weapons for the certain Hall of Famer in their run to a 12-4 SU record. Joe Flacco will need to be perfect if he's to serve up yet another SU victory at the Foxboro and drive Giselle Bundchen to another headline-making, profanity-riddled defense of her hubby yet again. Going for the Ravens is penchant for the role of spoilers. They relish it, quite frankly. The more they are doubted, the better they seem to play. And as far as they are concerned, they aren't done. Eager to spoil the party for the Patriots and the other party that the NFL betting public is gagging for -- a showdown between Brady and Manning in the AFC title game, the Ravens can't be dismissed out of hand.
NFL bettors shouldn't be fooled by the NFL odds for this game, cast wide apart as they are. In fact, neither team leads the stats in any significant category making this a much closer matchup than bookies present: the Ravens are a much better team than their +230 underdog odds suggest, and, at the same time, the Patriots aren't as infallible as their -290 NFL odds suggest. When you add to that the fact that the Ravens aren't intimidated by the Patriots at the Foxboro, home field advantage seems a moot point. Having said all that and freely acknowledging the Ravens could definitely mastermind another upset, we're hanging our hat on Brady and his Patriots on our NFL picks. Call it a hunch.
NFL Picks: Patriots -290
Panthers +425 vs. Seahawks -550
A lot is being made about the Panthers finishing the season with a losing record, but don't expect them to apologise for it. Any criticism it elicits is negated by a five-game winning streak ahead of the divisional round and a date with the defending champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Panthers won four in a row to clinch the NFC South title and move into the playoffs and then they felled the Arizona Cardinals in the wildcard round convincingly. The reason behind their success has been the improved play of Cam Newton down the stretch and the emergence of running back Jonathan Stewart. Both will have to be in top form against a Seahawks side that rounded out into form down the stretch as well if the Panthers are to have a chance in this game. If the NFL odds were any indication, it's a long shot NFL pick at +425.
What a statement it would be if the Panthers pull off the unthinkable and beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The pair met earlier this season with the Seahawks emerging the 13-9 winners in a tough, hard fought game. It's hard to imagine the upset happening given how well the Seahawks played down the stretch on both sides of the ball. But colour the world shocked if it does. The sensible bet is on the Seahawks, obviously. By the NFL odds, the Panthers strike an attractive pose that could tempt a few tickles in NFL betting circles.
NFL Picks: Seahawks - 550
Cowboys +215 vs. Packers -260
The best road team takes on the best home team in the second NFC divisional showdown, set to kick off Sunday's round of NFL playoff betting. Something is going to have to give when these two teams collide. If the NFL odds were any indication, the Cowboys' run of good fortune on the road is expected to end at Lambeau.
The Cowboys enter the divisional round with a come-from-behind win against the Detroit Lions in wildcard action. While they'll be well pleased to have survived that scare, the way they played for most of the game left much to be desired. Lions defense had their way with Romo as they outmuscled and outplayed the Cowboys et al. They'll need to be a lot more constrained a protect Romo better if they hope to have a chance against the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are going to be the toughest test on the road the Cowboys face; it's true the Cowboys overcame the Seahawks on the road earlier this season, but that win came at a time when the Seahawks were floundering a bit. They certainly haven't face as confident a home team as the Packers are right now. A confidence that had its flame stoked further when the hobbled Rodgers led the Packers to a pivotal win over the Detroit Lions in week 17 NFL betting that saw the Packers clinch the divisional title.
This game cuts finer than the NFL odds would suggest, but we're with the bookies on this one. So long as Aaron Rodgers is fit and 100% ready to play all 60 minutes of this game, betting against the Packers just doesn't seem to be a wise move for your NFL picks.
NFL Picks: Packers -260
Colts +240 vs. Broncos -300
The Colts and Broncos are set to close the divisional betting round with their AFC showdown on Sunday Night primetime football at Mile High, a matchup that is loaded with various storylines including the scintillating matchup between Andrew Luck and his predecessor Peyton Manning for the first time in the playoffs. There's arguments to both sides of the coin that will hold appeal for many NFL bettors, but for our money we're banking on the experience and quality of Peyton Manning and the better overall defense by the Broncos to come through for our NFL picks.
The Broncos have this game firmly cornered on the NFL odds board and for good reason. They beat the Colts 30-24 to kick start the regular season at Mile High and have put together a solid season to clinch the No.2 seed in the AFC. Last year, the Broncos finished runners-up to Seattle in the Superbowl. There's nothing they'd like better than a second crack at the cherry and with the Colts (2-2 SU in the playoffs with Luck) standing in their way, they're in good position to at least reach the AFC title game.
NFL Picks: Broncos -300