After an interesting (and very busy) wildcard weekend, the NFL playoff field has been reduced to eight teams remaining. The division slate offers many angles for weather, whether against the spread, on the moneyline or on the over / under.
This column contains a detailed breakdown of our favorite bets each week, as well as a preview of exclusive data from BetQL. This compilation serves only as a preview of everything that BetQL offers. Try us now to publish our full betting predictions for each game in the Divisional Round, including predictions and best bet ratings from our NFL Best Bet model.
All dates are from Friday morning. You can follow all movements of the NFL lines in BetQL's Line Movement Dashboard.
Divisional Round Betting Picks: Spread the Week's Picks
Los Angeles Rams (+6.5) at Green Bay Packers
When will people stop doubting the rams? These guys keep defying the odds before our eyes and yet Vegas is giving them a touchdown this weekend? Sign me up.
Los Angeles has the best defense in the league, led by one of the best pass rushers in NFL history in Aaron Donald and elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams D can dominate any level of the field and turn the life of an opposing quarterback into a living nightmare.
The last thing I checked was that Aaron Rodgers had a pretty bad track record in the playoffs against elite defensive units. That shouldn't take away from his insanely impressive regular season, for which he is likely to win the "AP Most Valuable Player" award. For the second time in his career, he finished the regular season with over 40 touchdowns and at least 115.0 passers-by. Only three other QBs have done this, and all of them have received MVPs during these seasons. He is also the first QB in 10 years to top the league on both metrics, according to NFL.com (48 obsolete TDs, 121.5 QB rating).
But, as Rodgers knows all too well, regular season awards don't always lead to playoff successes. Crazy things happen in the playoffs, and great fixtures and defensive execution play a bigger role in wins. He and Matt LaFleur are obviously screaming, but no D can stop a team like the Rams.
Check out what the Rams did against the Seahawks last week. Twelve days after QB Jared Goff started, coach Sean McVay made the difficult decision to support John Wolford in the first round of the NFL playoffs. This guy listed "Finance" as his LinkedIn industry last week! Well, Wolford took off and was knocked out of the game with a terrifying blow to the head and neck. Goff walked in – thumb was still recovering – and did just enough to give LA the win, shouldered primarily by rookie back Cam Akers (28-131-1) and the aforementioned dominance of his defense.
Wolford came back from the hospital that same evening after getting the thumbs up from doctors (I had to) to celebrate the big win with his team. He'll be watching from the sidelines at Green Bay this weekend as Goff returns to his role as the Rams' starting QB. Disagreed with McVay's decision to start Wolford against him last weekend, Goff said he was good to go.
In his lonely career meeting with the Packers, Goff threw 295 yards and three touchdowns for a QB rating of 111.0. If he duplicates that type of success this week, this game could be an instant classic. He will need another strong performance from Akers as well as the seasoned receiving tandem of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Rodgers has a great pair of playmakers in receivers Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, and they both have a nose for finding the end zone.
Ultimately, I think the Packers will win that game and Rodgers will end up playing Patrick Mahomes in a Super Bowl that StateFarm couldn't have written better. But I don't see the Packers running away with it, especially in a cold-weather stadium against one of the more elite defenses this league has ever seen. If Goff can lead the Rams to a 30:20 playoff win over Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, he can lose less than one touchdown to Rodgers in the playoffs.
Divisional Round Betting Picks: Weekly Moneyline Picks
Buffalo Bills (-145) versus Baltimore Ravens
If you just need a lock this week I'd rather go with the Packers over the Rams or the Chiefs over the Browns, but you will literally find no value in those money lines at all. Green Bay's ML is -320. Kansas City? A whopping -510. Therefore, my moneyline pick of the week is a Bills team preferred by the fewest points of a weekend (-2.5).
Quota makers seem to be giving too much credit to incumbent MVP Lamar Jackson while they are giving too little credit to 2020 MVP candidate Josh Allen. What gives? Jackson struggles with accuracy and decision making at times this season, while Allen gets better and better as the campaign progresses.
Jackson threw just 179 meters in Baltimore's 20-13 win over the defensively challenged Titans last week. He had no temporary touchdowns and threw an interception. Similar to many of his games in 2019, the damage he did mainly came to the ground when he dealt 136 rushing yards and a touchdown. Rookie JK Dobbins, who injured Gus Edwards, and Marquise Brown added another 100 yards together (Brown also had seven catches for 109 yards).
There's no doubt about Jackson's penchant for big pieces, and "Hollywood" Brown sure seems to shine at the right time. But Buffalo have been the better team all season and haven't shown signs of slowing down for anyone.
On the wildcard weekend, Allen led Buffalo to a tough 27:24 win over veterans Philip Rivers and the Colts, who have been one of the league's better defenses this season. The bills ended with a total of 397 yards, 301 of which came through the air.
This was Buffalo's seventh win in a row and the tenth win in eleven games. The only loss since October 19 was in Arizona in week 10, when Hail Mary won from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins at the last second. Without that game, the Bills might have gotten a shot at the number 1 and a reunion in the first round.
But this team should keep rolling and probably benefited from having to play last week. There's a lot of struggle and a hell of a lot of talent on both sides of football. Allen's chemistry with Stefon Diggs likely led the veteran receiver to his first all-pro pick. Diggs led the NFL this season with 127 catches and 1,535 yards, putting a 6-128-1 line last week. He's had eight touchdowns this season, one more than breakout rookie receiver Gabriel Davis.
Diggs and Davis, along with Cole Beasley, a seasoned slot receiver, and John Brown, a seasoned speedster, form an electric foursome of gamblers. Allen has no problem passing the ball on to anyone who finds a breakup. He has developed an Aaron Rodgers-like level of field vision and pocket awareness and is in step with Brian Daboll and his offensive playbook. When the defense sells out to cover the pass, he often burns her legs. Case in point: he ran eleven times for 54 yards last week and scored a goal against Indy.
Baltimore has been one of the better defenses in the NFL this season, and Jackson is still one of the most entertaining QBs in the game today. The Ravens clearly got a lot of love from Las Vegas after playing 7-2 in street competitions this season and getting hot late in the year. But there's a reason they rebounded from the playoffs after a regular 14-2 season last year, and a reason they've only been 1-1 on the streets as an underdog this season. You don't have a reliable passing game. Baltimore finished the season last in yards through the air.
Meanwhile, Leslie Frazier's Bills defense has made huge improvements on the track. The bills ended the regular season with the second-best share of sales (15.3 percent) and the third-most snack (26). Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (119 tackles) and cornerback Tre’Davious White (three INT, 11 PD), both Pro Bowlers, lead a gritty, proud unit.
This Buffalo team is determined to make it to the AFC championship (and maybe beyond). It ended up with the second most league wins this season but is the only favorite with odds below -150 to advance to the next round. The bills have shown time and time again that those who disrespect them will come out and get it themselves. Buffalo wins 27-23.
Divisional Round Betting Picks: Over / Under Selection of the Week
Kansas City Chiefs v Cleveland Browns: UNDER 57
It's easy to see why 80 percent of the money and 97 percent of the tickets to this game are in the OVER. The Browns offensive was hot and Kansas City somehow managed to improve their Super Bowl winning system. But we at BetQL like the value of the UNDER, which our Best Bet Model supports with a five-star trust rating.
The betting public may have fallen victim to the topicality. The Browns won a 48:37 Barnburner win over division rivals Steelers on the wildcard weekend. They scored a defensive touchdown on the first scrimmage game after Pittsburgh sailed their first snap into their own end zone and Cleveland safety Karl Joseph fell on it. The Browns were 28-0 up at the end of the first quarter, which set the tone for a sloppy, frenetic game for the rest of the game. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger finished the first half with three interceptions but accumulated 500 passes and four TDs by the end of the game.
If your breath caught after this busy roundup, there are a few facts to consider from this contest. Brown's head coach Kevin Stefanski, who deserves the Coach of the Year award, watched the game from his home in Cleveland after testing positive for COVID-19. Top cornerback Denzel Ward suffered the same fate, a fate that have met dozens of Browns players over the course of the season.
Without his head coach and second best defender, the Browns defense had a big lead too soon. It lost its focus and got hurt for big pieces in the second half. But the Browns prevailed with their first postseason win since 1995 and their first playoff win on the road since 1969.
Stefanski and Ward are back in action this week, so we're expecting a very different picture at BetQL than the 87 points we saw in Pittsburgh. After all, Cleveland's three previous games averaged 37 points.
The Chiefs have a massive offensive attack that is likely to be a big part of everyone, and this is where their mother hits the OVER. But before you jump on the bandwagon, consider a few factors:
- 1. Kansas City averaged 25.3 points in the last six games this season.
- 2. The Chiefs have made eight sales in their last four competitions.
- 3. Super Bowl Defense MVP Patrick Mahomes hasn't played an NFL game in weeks. He rested with the chargers during unimportant week 17 of KC, then enjoyed a first-round playoff reunion.
- 4. The Chiefs' defense has improved dramatically in their first year under Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. KC finished 10th in terms of points this season.
Definitely go for the OVER if you enjoy top-class theaters. But 57 points seem way too high for our taste, especially when you consider that UNDER has succeeded in four of the seven home games that KC were favorites this season. Our model predicts the grand total for the first half of the year at 27 points and the grand total for the final at 54 points. Personally, I like the Chiefs to win 30-23.
For more betting analysis and information, head over to BetQL and check out the best bets, sharp data and much more from our model for every playoff game! You can find all the updated NFL lines, spreads and odds at BetQL!