As the 2020 NFL playoffs enter the Divisional Round, taking a step closer to the SBLV, we track every matchup in this comprehensive betting guide. An all access pass to up-to-date information, betting trends, news, injury reports and more.
So, without too much preamble, let’s get cracking by setting the stage for the four scintillating matchups on tap in the Divisional Round, spanning between Saturday, January 16 and Sunday, January 17.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Green Bay Packers
Saturday, January 16, 2021 – 04:35 PM EST at Lambeau Field
The Los Angeles Rams were the only team to do damage in the NFC playoff frame, usurping the No.3 seed and NFC West champions, Seattle Seahawks, 30-20 at CenturyLink Field in the wild card round. As a reward for their impressive feat, Sean McVay’s plucky Rams will make the trek to the winter tundra at Lambeau Field where they’ll face the No.1 seed Green Bay Packers in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader kicking off the Divisional Round.
To all intents and purposes, it was one of the biggest upsets of the postseason. The Rams, closing as the +3 road underdogs with numerous sports betting sites, were facing serious question marks at the quarterback position after Jared Goff broke his thumb in week 16’s tilt with the Seahawks. With less than a fortnight between Goff’s thumb surgery and the wildcard round, McVay understandably settled on backup John Wolford, who was making only his second-ever NFL start and first-ever playoff start. But in a curious twist of fate, it wasn’t long before he was forced to turn to his franchise starter.
Wolford went down in a collision with Jamal Adams on a rush attempt early in the game -- one that was concerning enough that he was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, according to the team. Goff took over with just over 5 minutes left in the first quarter, but it took some time to quell doubts about his effectiveness throwing the ball with his injured thumb. The first possession ended up in a three-and-out with Goff failing to make a single pass. It was a tense moment or two of worry for McVay initially, his only other alternative, Blake Bortles, was inactive for the game.
All told, while Goff’s performance improved as he got into a rhythm, but the Rams defense did most of the heavy-lifting. Not for nothing are the Rams the top defense in the league, and they made sure the Seahawks got the memo. Russell Wilson was completely and utterly swarmed, clogged up in the pocket, harassed, tackled, sacked.
Although the Rams lost their best player, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, to a rib injury in the third quarter, they’d built up a substantial lead and had all the momentum in the game. The Seahawks were thoroughly rattled by then too, as evinced by the Rams’ last scoring drive, the direct result of recovering a fumbled punt with 7:02 left on the clock that set up the Rams with a short field and an easy touchdown. Nothing was going the way of the Seahawks.
The divisional clash between the No.6 seed Rams and the No.1 seed Packers is at the crux of it a battle between two contrasting styles, represented in the form of the No.1 defense taking on the No.1 offense. The Rams defense leads the league with the fewest points allowed (20) and the best pass rush. The Packers offense is the most potent in the league, scoring 31.8 points per game and the most touchdown passes in the league.
LA Rams are 11-6-0 SU and 10-7-0 ATS, a run of form that includes a 5.1 winning margin on average. The total has gone UNDER in 12 of LA Rams’ 17 games. Green Bay is 13-3-0 SU and 10-6-0 ATS on the season, a run of form which includes an 8.8 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 9 of Green Bay’s 16 games.
On the face of it, it’s an intriguing clash that could go either way depending on whether defense or offense dictates play. However, the NFL odds lean quite conspicuously towards the Packers at home, which goes against an established sports adage that says “defense wins games.” If that’s not an endorsement of Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and a whole host of attacking players manning the Packers O-line, what is?
LAR: WR C. Kupp (knee), T D. Edwards (ankle), LB L. Floyd (concussion), and QB J. Wolford (neck) are day-to-day’ WR N. Webster (hamstring), DT Aaron Donald (ribs), and QB J. Goff (thumb) are probable Saturday; T A Whitworth (knee) is questionable Saturday.
GB: TE M. Lewis (knee). WR A. Lazard (wrist), LB Z. Smith (ankle), CB K. King (Achilles), TE J. Sternberger (concussion), DE B. Winn (tricep), T R. Wagner (knee), WR E. St. Brown (knee), and DL K. Keke (concussion) are questionable Saturday.
|TV Network: FOX|
|Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, FOX|
|Opening Line: Packers -7 (-110) with BookMaker (visit our BookMaker Review)|
|Fans in Stadium: Yes (Up to 6,000 fans)|
|Full Game Preview: Rams vs. Packers Picks|
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills
Saturday, January 16, 2021 - 08:15 PM EST at Bills Stadium
Lamar Jackson finally cracked the win column in the playoffs, improving to a 1-2 SU lifetime record in his fledgling NFL career as he led the Baltimore Ravens to a 20-13 victory over arch rivals, Tennessee Titans, on Sunday. Next up for the Ravens is a date with the No.2 seed Buffalo Bills, who are coming off an absorbing 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Saturday’s showdown between the Ravens and Bills marks the first meeting between the pair of Super Bowl hopefuls this season; it also marks the second meeting between Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen in their respective three-year careers. The first meeting came in week 14 in 2019, going the way of Baltimore in a narrow 24-17 win. A lot has changed since then, the year Lamar Jackson had his breakout season. Josh Allen namely has come leaps and bounds in 2020, closing the gap on his Baltimore counterpart with a statistically banner season that may yet earn him the regular season MVP award.
Lamar Jackson was solid in the victory over the Titans, despite getting off to a slow start. Jackson proved to be the catalyst for the turnaround as he galloped for a 49-yard score that tied the game, after which the Ravens never looked back, and the defense did its part by holding Derrick Henry to merely 40 yards and zero touchdowns. It was a complete team effort that had the Ravens for the first time erase a 10-point deficit on the way to a comeback victory with Lamar Jackson under centre. In so doing, the Ravens also covered as the closing 3-point road chalk set by sportsbooks.
In the meanwhile, the Bills had their work cut out for them against an Indianapolis Colts side that came to play at Orchard Park. In the end, although the Bills clinched the win, it was a bit closer than the NFL odds had it. The result was a Colts cover as the closing 7-point road underdogs. Nevertheless, Josh Allen led the team with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score, while Stefon Diggs compiled 128 yards and a touchdown to his credit.
Not a whole lot separates the Ravens and Colts in terms of form. The Ravens are riding a six-game winning streak into the divisional round, the Bills are riding a seven-game winning streak of their own. Importantly, thanks to Cleveland’s upset over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens avoid the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round – by all accounts the tougher of the two AFC prospects in the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens are 12-5-0 SU and 11-6-0 ATS with a 10.1 winning margin on average. The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Baltimore’s 17 games. The Buffalo Bills are 14-3-0 SU and 11-6-0 ATS with a 7.6 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 11 of Buffalo’s 16 games.
Bookmakers have gone to press with the game cornered with Buffalo in NFL betting markets. The Bills are laying -3 to the Ravens.
BAL: LB M. Judon (illness) is probable Saturday; CB D Harris (thigh), G D. Fluker (knee), and CB M Peters (back) are questionable Saturday.
BUF: RB Z. Moss (ankle) is out indefinitely; DT J. Zimmer (groin), DT E. Oliver (ankle), LB T. Edmunds (hamstring), WR C. Beasley (knee), and WR S. Diggs (oblique) are probable Saturday.
|TV Network: NBC|
|Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, NBC|
|Opening Line: Bills -3 (+105) with BookMaker|
|Fans in Stadium: Yes, (Up to 6,772 fans)|
|Full Game Preview: Ravens vs. Bills Picks|
Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 03:05 PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium
The Cleveland Browns pulled off the second biggest upset of the NFL playoffs, dumping the highly-fancied Pittsburgh Steelers in a surprisingly dominant performance on Sunday night. The upshot of which has earned the upstart Browns a date with the reigning Super Bowl champions, Kansas City Chiefs, who were enjoying a bye this week as the AFC top seed.
It’s safe to say that everybody and their grandmother had written off the Browns ahead of their primetime showdown with the Steelers in NFL betting. All week long the narrative was focused on the unfortunate circumstance of having several players and coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, unavailable due to testing positive for COVID-19. At one point, there was even doubt whether the game would even go ahead.
It must have been an extremely challenging and uncertain week, not to mention unprecedented in the game. But to give credit where it is due, the Browns pulled it off, doing so in impressive fashion by scoring four touchdowns in the first quarter of the game to take a commanding 28-0 lead. It was the highest total of points scored in the first quarter of a playoff game in NFL history.
Baker Mayfield was uncharacteristically calm and collected, while the rest of the O-line was efficient, collected, precise – putting nary a foot wrong. If there was any doubt whether the Cleveland Browns belonged in the playoffs, if they were legitimate contenders or pretenders, they went some way towards dispelling those qualms in the 48-37 victory at Heinz Field.
Of course, next up is a much tougher ask in the Kansas City Chiefs, who went into the postseason with a nearly perfect 14-2-0 SU record. Well, they went 14-1 SU with Patrick Mahomes at the helm until he sat out in week 17 to make way for the backups in only the second loss of the season for Kansas City.
A lot is being made about the Chiefs winning games the hard way this season, not in the pretty, high-octane offensive routs that have become synonymous with Mahomes since he burst onto the scene with a verve and swagger in 2018 that captured the imagination of football enthusiasts and NFL bettors alike.
However, it remains the fact that prior to week 17, the Chiefs were riding one of the longest winning streaks into the postseason – a 10-game winning streak that ended when Andy Reid opted to rest his players in week 17 after the Chiefs were ensured the No.1 seed.
For your NFL Picks, the Browns are 11-6-0 SU and 7-10-0 ATS on the season. The total has gone OVER in 9 of Cleveland’s 17 games. The Chiefs are 14-2-0 SU and 7-9-0 ATS on the season, which includes a 6.9 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 8 of Kansas City’s 16 games.
Predictably, the Chiefs opened as the firm faves across sports betting sites, although it remains to be seen whether NFL bettors will shade the Chiefs as the whopping -10 home chalk or grab the points instead with the Browns who’ve punched successfully above their weight class up to this point.
CLE: TE S. Carlson (groin), C J. Tretter (knee), G W. Teller (ankle), DT S. Richardson (neck), DE M. Garrett (shoulder), TE D. Njoku (hamstring), LB B. Goodsn (shoulder), and T J. Conklin (Hamstring) are questionable Sunday; CB R. Jackson (hamstring) is on I-R; and G M. Dunn (calf) is out indefinitely.
KC: DE M. Danna (illness) is out indefinitely; LB D O’Daniel (ankle), LB B. Niemann (hamstring), RB L. Bell (knee), OL M. Remmers (back), and DT D. Nnadi (knee) are probable Sunday; WR S. Watkins (calf), WR T. Hill (hamstring), CB R. Fenton (ankle), and LB W. Gay (ankle) are questionable Saturday.
|TV Network: FOX|
|Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, FOX|
|Opening Line: Chiefs -10 ( -115) with BookMaker|
|Fans in Stadium: Yes (Up to 17,00 fans)|
|Full Game Preview: Browns vs. Chiefs Picks|
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 06:40 PM EST at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 31-23 win over the Washington Football Team on Saturday night to advance into the Divisional Round. On the next day, Drew Brees led the New Orleans Saints to a commanding 21-9 win over the Chicago Bears. Thus, the pair set up a third showdown this season, one so epic in every sense that the NFL has appropriately scheduled it as the pièce de resistance of the Divisional Round, the curtain-dropper on the upcoming weekend’s NFL betting action.
From a purely individual level, the matchup between Tom Brady and Drew Brees represents the oldest quarterback matchup in the history of the NFL playoffs. At the same time, it’s no ordinary matchup of forty-something year-olds, rather the best of the best in the game today. A clash of titans, living legends nipping at each other’s heels as the No.1 and No.2 quarterback in three key categories: completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Brees is first in completions and passing yards while Brady is second in those aforementioned categories. Brady is first in passing touchdowns with Brees breathing down his neck in second place.
On a philosophical level, there’s a sense of it being a “last hurrah” for Drew Brees. Talk about this being his last season in the league before hanging up his cleats is rife, as a cushy broadcasting job is apparently waiting in the wings. Separately, there’s another pressing element of “if not now, then maybe never” for Sean Payton with this installment of the Saints team, which is arguably the best collection of talent in recent memory. In the last three seasons, the Saints were amongst the top Super Bowl faves, only to fall short at varying hurdles, including last season when they were shocking eliminated by the Minnesota Vikings in the wild card round.
Speaking of collection of talent, there’s no team more star-studded than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. It’s taken some time for that talent to gel. In lieu of a preseason due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bucs have had to get to know each other on the fly, with each passing week at varying degrees of success. It’s fair to say, the last few weeks of the season have seen Tampa Bay’s offense at its best, albeit against lesser quality opponents. Nevertheless, Bruce Arian’s side is much improved since they last played the Saints in week 9.
The Saints swept the series with the Buccaneers this season, winning the season opener 34-23 at the Superdome. The second meeting in week 9 was surprisingly one-sided, the Saints going on to crush the Bucs 38-3 on the road, which marked one of the worst performances by Tampa Bay this season. Overall, New Orleans is 13-4-0 SU and 10-7-0 ATS this season with a 9.2 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 10 of New Orleans’ 17 games. Tampa Bay is 12-5-0 SU and 9-8-0 ATS with an 8.5 winning margin on average. The total has gone OVER in 10 of Tampa Bay’s 17 games.
In the interest of posterity, along with a purely betting perspective, the expectations ahead of the third meeting between these divisional rivals is for a competitive contest befitting its marquee billing. Indeed, bookies have gone to press with the Saints as merely field goal faves on the NFL odds board.
TB: G A. Cappa (ankle) is on I-R; WR C. Goodwin (hip). WR M. Evans (knee), and RB L. McCoy (undisclosed) are probable Sunday; LB J. Pierre-Paul (knee), CB C. Davis (groin), RB R. Jones II (quadricep), and DL J. Ledbetter (calf), are questionable Sunday; LB K. Minter (illness) is out indefinitely.
NO: TE J. Cook (back), WR T. Smith (ankle), T T. Armstead (elbow), CB R. Robinson (hamstring), RB L. Murray (quadricep), QB T. Hill (knee), and DE T. Hendrickson (neck) are questionable Sunday.
|TV Network: CBS|
|Live Stream: fuboTV, DirecTV, CBS|
|Opening Line: Saints -3 (-115) with BookMaker|
|Fans in Stadium: Yes (Up to 3,000 fans).|
|Full Game Preview: Buccaneers vs. Saints Picks|