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NFL Divisional Round Best Picks: Over/Under Football Predictions

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NFL Divisional Round Best Picks: Over/Under Football Predictions
Tight end Tyler Higbee #89 celebrates a touchdown with teammate Robert Woods #17 of the Los Angeles Rams. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers

Saturday, January 16, 2021 – 04:35 PM EST at Lambeau Field

If ever there was a team best positioned to slow down Green Bay’s No.1 scoring offense it would be Los Angeles’ No.1 defense. To all intents and purposes, this is the key matchup between these two teams that many NFL experts and pundits hang their predictions and NFL picks on. Some leaning towards Los Angeles’ defense dictating the play and others leaning towards Green Bay’s offense setting the tempo.

To look at the X’s and O’s, the Rams strike a convincing pose on defense, after finishing the regular season with the No.1 total defense, and in the top five in multiple other significant categories. The Rams allowed 281.9 yards on average, a mark that includes 190.7 passing yards allowed, 91.3 rushing yards and 18,5 points allowed. The most impressive takeaway from this statistical feast is the fact that the Rams started what was a challenging 2020 NFL season, disrupted by an unprecedented global pandemic, with a new defensive coordinator. To be able to take Zoom meetings and translate virtual practice sessions onto the field so successfully is frankly awe-inspiring.

On paper, the Packers offense is nothing to be trifled with, finishing the regular season with the most potent offense in the league, and in the top ten in multiple other categories. The Packers scored 31.8 points on average this season, making it the most efficient offense thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ elite level of play. The rushing offense was eighth overall with 132.4 yards per game on average and the passing offense was ninth overall with 256.6 yards per game on average.

To look at the NFL lines in total markets for this game, which presents as the lowest total on the board for the weekend, bookies appear to be paying lip service to the Aaron Donald-inspired defense, who was nicknamed “The Terminator” by McVay recently. But with uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball for the Rams, it’s fair to say that LA’s offense (or lack thereof) factors into the equation as well.

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As of yet, it’s totally unclear which quarterback Sean McVay will turn to on Saturday. Will it be Jared Goff, who is recovering from thumb surgery, or John Wolford, who suffered a neck injury in last week’s game, forcing him to leave in the first quarter? Whichever option McVay turns to, there’s an apparent downside with injury and fitness concerns. Perhaps even talent, when comparing those options with Aaron Rodgers, who can be so lethal in the passing game that he may as well be nicknamed the silent assassin.

All told, this will be an intriguing battle between the key matchups in this game that could fall UNDER the total. However, if Rodgers and the Packers get going, this game could end up going OVER the total as the Rams will be forced to engage in a chuck-fest. Thus, the pick here is the OVER.

NFL Pick: OVER 45.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

LAR-GB O/45.5(-108)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills

Saturday, January 16, 2021 - 08:15 PM EST at Bills Stadium

The clash between the Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills has the potential to become a high scoring affair, showcasing contrasting offensive styles. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens can do some damage on the ground while Josh Allen and the Bills can do damage in the air and on the ground. In short, it should be a brilliant clash between two of the game’s young quarterbacks that has NFL markets setting relatively high total expectations.

As it is, the total for this game opened around 50 points across multiple sportsbooks, where it has held firm for the most part during the course of the week. In large part, the Bills offense plays a main factor in this market after finishing the season by scoring 142 points (48, 38 and 56 points) in their last three games of the regular season, for an average of 47.3. Based on that average, the Bills could very well cover most of the total on offer.

Although Allen is a dual threat quarterback, the Bills offense leans predominantly on his arm. Buffalo’s passing game ranked third in the league in passing yards with 289.5 per game, while Allen threw for 37 touchdowns and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who emerged as his favourite go-to target, led the league in receiving.

Baltimore’s offense is no slouch either, rounding out into form down the stretch by scoring in abundance. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens O-line lit up against the Cleveland Browns in a veritable scoring bonanza in December, after which they never looked back. Interestingly, with each passing game, as the Ravens offense improved, so too did the defense.

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After the 47-42 victory over the Browns, the Ravens defense really tightened up, and closed the season by allowing an average of 10 points only. That trend seemingly continued into the playoffs, as the Ravens offense snuffed out the Titans in a 20-13 victory that fell UNDER expectations – the game closed on a 53.5 point total.

All told, this is another game that could feature a significant battle between the Ravens defense and Bills offense that might lead to a low-scoring affair that will stand in stark contrast to the NFL odds currently in play. However, the NFL betting trends bear out an OVER bet. Consider the firepower contained within both camps, along with the fact that each side is playing its best football at the right time, this game could turn into a scoring fest too.

NFL Pick: OVER 50 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

BAL-BUF O/50(-110)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.

Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP

Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 03:05 PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium

The Cleveland Browns surprised the NFL betting world by upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round, raising naturally the question whether they can do it again. This time at the expense of the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs, who are the prohibitive faves to win not only this contest but Super Bowl LV as well.

If the Browns were to pull off the unthinkable, one would assume avoiding a scoring-fest with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs would be preferable. Going toe-to-toe with Mahomes is a daunting task, not for the fainthearted. Baker Mayfield is good, but he’s not that good. Moreover, the Chiefs are one of the best competitors in the game, prone to pulling off crazy, come from behind wins. No lead over the Chiefs feels comfortable or safe, as evinced during last year’s Super Bowl run in which the Chiefs came from behind against the Texans, Titans and Niners to lift the Lombardy Trophy.

Cleveland burst out of the gates to take a 28-0 lead over the Steelers in the first quarter, but in the second half of the game they took their foot off the gas and allowed the Steelers to outscore them 27-13. At one point, it got really dicey. The Steelers had closed the gap to within a couple of scores, only for a questionable call by Mike Tomlin, a decision to punt rather than go for it on a fourth down, likely swaying the game firmly in favor of the Browns.

If the Steelers had converted on the fourth down and gone on to score, who knows what might have happened…. It’s the classic, would’ve, could’ve, should’ve scenario that’s entertaining to think about, but nevertheless an exercise in futility after the fact. The Browns got the job done in the end, earning their biggest challenge yet.

If there was a lesson to be learned from last year’s Super Bowl run, it’s to get off to a fast start. It would be somewhat surprising, therefore, if the Chiefs were to come out of the gates as slowly as they did last year against the Texans, when they fell behind 24-0 before storming back to win 51-31. Furthermore, after witnessing how explosive the Browns can be if they’re allowed to run riot, one has to consider Andy Reid will put a greater emphasis on defense in this game. That is born out by recent betting trends that reveal the Chiefs closed the regular season with contained and narrow victories (by a 3.85 winning margin on average). Conversely, the total went OVER in 8 of Kansas City’s 16 games, and it went OVER in 5 of their last 8 games.

A lot about this matchup suggests that the UNDER might be the savvy pick, but equally there is evidence to suggest the OVER is a viable option too. To contain the offensive firepower within both camps for the better part of four quarters could be challenging for both defenses, and all it needs is one of the defenses to show a crack in its armour for the floodgates to open on both ends of the field. Leaning towards the latter, the choice for our NFL picks here it is for the OVER.

NFL Pick: OVER 56 (-108) with Heritage Sports

CLE-KC O/56(-108)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hands the ball off to Leonard Fournette #28. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints

Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 06:40 PM EST at Mercedes-Benz Superdome

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to snap a losing trend against the New Orleans Saints when the pair collide in the divisional round on Sunday night. The NFL odds are stacked against the Buccaneers significantly, while the total forecast promises a relatively high-scoring affair is on the cards when Tom Brady and Drew Brees collide for the first time ever in the postseason..

The Bucs lost the first game 34-23 on the road in week 1. They were then blown out 38-3 at home in week 9, the latter of which was one of the worst defeats by Tampa Bay this season and of Tom Brady’s career. One that took the shine off of Tampa Bay’s star-studded cast, calling into question their legitimacy as Super Bowl contenders in the eyes of many NFL experts halfway through the season. It’s fair to say, Sean Payton and the Saints proved at the time to be Tampa Bay’s kryptonite, especially for Todd Bowles’ vaunted defense that conceded an average of 22.2 points per game this season. The 34 and 38 points scored by the Saints represent the two highest total points conceded by the Bucs through 16 games.

After the Bucs offense came up astonishingly short with just 196 total yards and 3 paltry points against the Saints in week 9, they seemingly turned a corner, averaging 500 total yards of offense and 38 points per game in their last 7 games of the season. One can point to the fact that Tampa Bay only beat lesser opponents down the stretch to pad those stats, but when faced with stiffer challenges in the form of the Chiefs and Rams, the Bucs succumbed to defeat (both times they lost 27-24).

Regardless, the Buccaneers can only play the schedule that is before them and based on that the fact remains that they finished as the third highest-scoring offense in the league. A run sparked by the turnaround in week 10, which saw the Bucs address the balance between the passing and running game, all the while finding form and chemistry. Not to mention, that has now some NFL insiders and experts looking at Tampa Bay’s offense as the most underrated units in the playoffs.

While the Saints offense needs little introduction, the Saints defense deserves some recognition. The Saints finished fourth overall in total defense, conceding just 21.1 points per game. In the last two games, the Saints have conceded just 16 points combined. Most recently, New Orleans is flush off a commanding 21-9 win over the Chicago Bears in the wild card round, one that conjures images of their week 9 win over the Buccaneers. The Saints held Chicago’s offense to just 3 paltry points for the better part of the four quarters before Mitch Trubisky led a touchdown drive in garbage time to fudge the point margins.

On balance, these are two well-balanced teams that have a vested interest in the outcome. Both teams bring solid defenses into this game, which could prove deciding and take the spotlight (as well as the pressure) away from the respective offenses highlighted by the marquee billing between Tom Brady and Drew Brees. That fact alone lends itself to a bet on the UNDER for total NFL picks. However, for those that fancy a right tussle between these two veteran quarterbacks, there’s good reason to lean towards the OVER as well. Not only have the Bucs been one of the most efficient offenses in recent weeks, but one has to consider the fact that Brady will be motivated to erase the memory of the last time he faced the Saints.

NFL Pick: OVER 52 (-109) with GTbets (visit our GTbets Review)

TB-NO O/52(-109)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.