NFL Divisional Round best bets and expert picks for the weekend slate. Find best bets for the NFL Divisional Round featuring Texans vs. Ravens, Packers vs. 49ers, Buccaneers vs. Lions, and Chiefs vs. Bills.
NFL Divisional Round Best Bets
The NFL Playoffs have arrived, and we’re onto a Divisional Round slate featuring some fascinating matchups. In this article, you can find best bet breakdowns for games throughout the weekend. Our staff broke down every Divisional Round game in depth on our Lineups YouTube page with game picks and player props so be sure to check that out. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 30-21-1 (+7.9 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 21-15 (+4.6 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 19-25-1 (-7.6 units)
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
C.J. Stroud has taken the NFL by storm in his rookie season and it culminated with an incredibly impressive playoff debut where he torched the Browns with a 16-21 passing line for 274 yards and three touchdowns. According to Next Gen Stats, his +0.69 EPA per dropback was the highest mark by a rookie in their data’s history. However, Stroud’s life gets much tougher this week as he hits the road to take on the Ravens.
Baltimore’s defense has been elite across the board this season as they rank first in DVOA, and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme will create a ton of issues for Stroud, particularly with a weakened receiving corps. Tank Dell and Noah Brown are on IR while Robert Woods is dealing with lingering injuries. As a result of these factors, we could see the Texans lean even further into the early down run game.
Despite Stroud’s breakout season, Houston ranks just 26th in early down pass play rate. They’re 30th in rushing EPA on early downs and 10th in passing EPA, but they lean into the run far too often, and I expect that conservative approach to take shape here in cold weather on the road. Houston’s higher offensive upside will likely come in the second half if offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik opts to open up the playbook, particularly if Houston finds itself in a trailing game script.
The Ravens’ offense should have plenty of success throughout this game, but it’s fair to give some credit to an ascending Houston run defense that ranks first in success rate this season. The Texans should be able to limit Baltimore’s success in the run game early on, and we could see some rust from the passing game as Lamar Jackson and his receivers haven’t taken the field since December 31.
This game is also expected to feature winds of 15-25 miles per hour, which led to the under being steamed down from the opener of 45.5 points. The current number at the time of writing is 43.5, but the trends say there could still be value. The under has gone 29-11-1 (73%) in games with 10+ mph winds this season and 78-33-1 (70%) the last two seasons.
If you’re into referee trends, John Hussey has been a great referee to bet the under with. The under is 82-62-2 (57%) in Hussey reffed games, which is the second-best of any official behind only Bill Vinovich.
I’d rather play the first half under, though, with expectations of the Texans being conservative early on. For what it’s worth, the Texans are 13-8-1 to the first half under and 8-0 to the first half under on the road this season. I’d play the first half under down to 20.5 points and would pivot to a first quarter under down to 7.5 points past that number.
Jacob’s Best Bet: First Half Under 22.5 Points
Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers Prediction
The Packers had the biggest upset win of the first round, beating the Cowboys soundly on the road in a game they controlled from start to finish. It was a jarring reality check for a Dallas team many saw as a true contender this season. It was also a massive breakout game for Jordan Love, the Packers’ quarterback who has taken the league by storm over the second half of the season. It’s easy to fall in love with this young Green Bay team.
However, I see it coming to a jarring conclusion on Saturday night. The 49ers are the current Super Bowl favorites, and this team has the best offense in the NFL. Brock Purdy leads the league in several categories, including yards per attempt, EPA/play, and passer rating. Overall, the Niners lead the NFL in yards per play, DVOA, and EPA. When Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel are on the field, the 49ers are 20-3 straight up and 16-7 ATS (69%).
It’s difficult to envision a scenario where the Packers force many stops in this game. Green Bay ranks 27th in defensive DVOA this season, and Joe Barry’s group has been routinely overmatched in games. They allowed Tommy DeVito to win NFC Offensive Player of the Week and allowed Bryce Young to throw for over 300 yards. This Packers defense is severely overmatched in this game, as Kody expounds on below.
Love deserves a ton of credit for this incredible run. His accuracy and mechanics have improved dramatically over the course of the season. Since Week 9, he has 24 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He went on the road in his playoff debut and torched Dallas, a top five pass defense by EPA, with the most efficient passing performance of all time in a playoff game by EPA/play.
That’s all to say that I anticipate the Packers scoring some points here. It won’t be enough. The Packers have been in must-win desperation mode for weeks now as they fought for a playoff spot. Four of their last five games have been on the road.
This is also a terrible travel spot for the Packers. Teams traveling from EST or CST to PST playing on the road on short rest in a playoff game are 1-6-1 ATS since 2006. Meanwhile, the Niners have had almost a full month off before this game after coasting to a win over the Commanders and resting their starters against the Rams.
If you’re into referee trends, Alex Kemp also favors the 49ers in this game. The Packers are 2-8 ATS in games reffed by Kemp, including 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games. They’ve lost four straight ATS with Kemp. Meanwhile, the 49ers have won four straight ATS in games reffed by Kemp including two playoff games where the 49ers won and covered – against the Cowboys in 2022 and the Seahawks in 2023.
The 49ers have 12 wins this season, and 11 of them have been by 10+ points. Nine of their wins have been by 16+ points. When they win, they win big, and I’m expecting them to do it again this week.
Jacob’s Best Bet: 49ers -9.5
San Francisco team total overs were a common theme throughout the season and we are once again going back to the well as they face a horrific Packers defense. Not only do they face a Packers defense that has mightily struggled in nearly every facet of the game, but the 49ers also come into the contest well rested after getting a bye week in the wild card round for being the number one seed in the NFC.
Focusing on the Packers defense, it’s bad across the board. That doesn’t bode well when facing one of the most efficient offenses in the league. Especially when having to defend against Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. All stud pass catchers who contribute towards a 49ers pass attack that ranks first overall in Pass DVOA, Success Rate, and EPA.
That spells potential disaster for a Packers secondary who ranks 26th in Def Pass DVOA, 28th in Def Pass Success Rate, and 23rd in Def Pass EPA. Their low coverage marks can be pointed towards their scheme, leaving their corners and safeties on islands as the Packers blitz at the 10th highest rate in the NFL.
Their heavy dose of the blitz does correlate to impressive pressure rate metrics, where they rank sixth on the season, but the 49ers are equipped to counter it. Christian McCaffrey is a game changing dual threat back who can scramble out for a screen, punishing a wide open middle of the field as he skates past the blitz.
It’s not as if the Packers can sell out to stop the pass either as they already field a weak run stopping unit as well. This was a struggle last season, now once again being a thorn in their side as they rank a lowly 26th in Def Rush DVOA, 15th in Def Rush Success Rate, 21st in Def Rush EPA, and 20th in Def Adjusted Sack Rate.
In order to get some more security to cover this number, the 49ers defense will need to get the Packers offense off the field early in their drives. They have the coverage abilities to slow down Jordan Love, ranking top seven in Def Pass DVOA, EPA, and Success Rate.
Stopping the run may be troubling, but Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will need to get past the trenches in order to punish the coverage heavy linebacking unit. That may be a struggle as the 49ers rank 10th in Adjusted Line Yards.
Take the 49ers team total at no higher than 31 as their offense is in a position to consistently get into scoring position. They have major advantages through the air and on the ground, as well as being well rested after a bye week for their star players. Factor in a defense that can get the Packers off the field in a hurry and the 49ers will have plenty of opportunities to clear this high total.
Kody’s Best Bet: 49ers Team Total Over 30.5
Once again, the postseason has brought us to a matchup between the Packers and 49ers, two of the NFC’s most historic franchises. Of course, there will be no Aaron Rodgers this time, and now we have thrilling new storylines to enjoy. There’s the rising star young passer Jordan Love on Green Bay’s side, and the egalitarian, diverse approach from San Francisco, the likes of which we haven’t seen win a championship in quite some time.
The good news for both teams, or at least both offenses, is that this game is taking place in San Francisco this time. The projected low for Green Bay on Saturday is an even zero degrees, while the Bay will enjoy temperatures in the mid-to-low 50s. There could be some rain, but there are not expected to be high winds, a much bigger deal for offensive production.
Both of these offenses are in great form coming into this one; the Niners finished the year tops in the league in offensive DVOA, while the Packers ranked sixth but with a definitive upwards trend. Jordan Love has thrown 21 touchdowns and just one pick over the past nine games, and while that particular ratio is highly unsustainable, it’s clear to see that his play has taken a step up over that time.
San Francisco’s defense is a good one, especially against the pass, but Love and the Packers annihilated a similarly-graded Dallas air defense last week. This time out, they’ll have the benefit of running at a mediocre Green Bay run defense with Aaron Jones, who had a great game against Dallas’s much more highly graded unit. This will of course help them stay ahead of the chains, and also soften up the pass defense as resources must be committed to slowing Jones.
The Niners should be able to absolutely shred Green Bay’s defense in every aspect. Green Bay ranks 26th in DVOA against both the run and the pass, so the Niners’ positively loaded offense will be able to attack it from multiple angles. Christian McCaffrey should be set for a big day through both the air and ground, while Brock Purdy’s extremely easy job will continue to be just that, as Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle run freely downfield.
Few pundits are doubting the Niners’ ability to put up points- they should be able to get into the mid-30s on their own- but the Packers shouldn’t be discounted either. This offense is firing on all cylinders, and even if the game turns out to be relatively uncompetitive, they should chip in enough to help this number go over.
Will’s Best Bet: Over 50.5 Points
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions Prediction
For the first time in 30 years, the Detroit Lions won a playoff game. Not only did they break the streak, but they also got the benefit of hosting another game thanks to the Green Bay Packers upsetting the Dallas Cowboys. Getting home field advantage is a must should the Lions want a good shot of moving on as Jared Goff’s production takes a nose dive when he has to play outdoors on the road.
They now host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles who looked like they had their sights set on vacation from the opening kickoff. The Bucs may have looked impressive, but multiple negative factors swing heavily towards the Lions favor. Detroit has a massive advantage on both sides of the ball in the trenches, meaning they keep Baker under constant pressure while giving Goff a clean pocket.
A clean pocket is detrimental to a reeling Bucs secondary, especially when they are expected to be on islands as the Bucs blitz at a high rate. The Bucs blitz at the third highest rate in the league, yet only rank 26th in Pressure Rate. That means the middle will be exposed for a majority of the contest, giving Goff high quality passing opportunities to hit his pass catchers in stride as they thrive in creating separation in the open field.
As for the defense, expect the Lions to turn the Bucs offense into a one-dimensional unit as the run game should be practically non-existent. The Bucs rank near dead last in Rush DVOA, EPA, and Success Rate while the Lions rank first in Def Rush DVOA, fourth in Def Rush EPA, and eighth in Def Rush Success Rate.
Factor in Baker’s injured ankle and his mobility takes a hit in the pocket as well, most likely struggling against the Lions pressure. The issue is that the Lions secondary still mightily struggles in coverage by ranking near dead last in Def Pass EPA and Success Rate and now have to cover Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Avoid a potential backdoor loss by tying in their moneyline with the Ravens.
Speaking of the Ravens, they bring in a defense that is more than capable of limiting CJ Stroud. The Ravens back end comes into the contest ranked first in Def Pass DVOA, second in Def Pass EPA, fourth in Def Pass Success Rate, and second in Def Adjusted Sack Rate. The Texans offensive line is well below average with their pass blocking and the Texans will be without receiver Noah Brown on top of already being without Tank Dell.
Lamar Jackson and company should have no issue with implementing their pass attack, taking advantage of a weak Texans secondary. The Texans rank well below average in Def Pass DVOA, EPA, and Success Rate and now have to sit in coverage while constantly spying Lamar. The Stroud rookie campaign has been a joy to watch, but this is the end of the road as the Ravens remind the league that they are one of the best teams in the NFL.
Kody’s Best Bet: Lions / Ravens ML Parlay
When the NFL playoffs roll around, weather is more of a factor than ever, but not in this game. It’s the ultra-rare Detroit Lions home playoff game, just the second since 1994, but also the second of this month. While the Midwestern winter is setting in, making things wintery and harsh around Detroit, the Lions play inside, so the elements will not slow down either one of these offenses.
That’s a pretty big deal for both teams. The Lions are used to playing outside in the NFC North against the Bears and Packers, but California quarterback Jared Goff is significantly better indoors, specifically at home. He owns a passer rating of 108.9 in domes — including a figure of 107.9 at Ford Field — while he’s earned a mark of 89.4 on the road and 82.0 outdoors in general.
As for the Bucs, there aren’t quite such striking splits to dig into, but the fact of the matter is that they’re a South Florida team that is accustomed to playing somewhere warm.
These offenses share a similar strength in downfield passing. The Lions finished seventh in the league in passing offense DVOA, and should be able to absolutely lacerate the Tampa defense, which is average against the pass by the same metric. Specifically, the Lions’ pass catchers — led by Amon-Ra St. Brown — ranked third in the league by PFF’s grading system, compared to 22nd for the Tampa Bay secondary.
That figure for the Bucs is already mediocre, but was largely propped up by the individual efforts of Antoine Winfield, the team’s first-team All-Pro safety. The reality is that outside of Winfield, there are tons of weak spots for the Lions to attack.
Similarly enough, the Lions’ secondary ranks 29th by that same PFF grading system, and will be tasked with stopping the dynamic duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The Detroit run defense is great, but the underdog Bucs should be throwing more often than not. Similarly, the Bucs defend the run much better than the pass, and should nudge Detroit into an air-first approach, which would help to push pace and support plenty of scoring.
This number is a really solid one, as it gives us access to some key numbers in the low 50s, as well as 49 of course. These teams have relied on their passing offenses all year, and inside a dome with soft secondaries on both sides, that shouldn’t change in what should be a fun divisional matchup.
Will’s Best Bet: Over 48.5 Points
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills Prediction
The rest of the NFL Divisional Round slate is exciting, but it’s an appetizer to the game we’ve all been waiting for. Mahomes vs. Allen in the playoffs. You’re going to hear a lot about Patrick Mahomes’s track record as an underdog this week leading up to this game. He’s gone an absurd 7-3 straight up and 8-1-1 ATS (88%) as an underdog in his career.
Betting against Mahomes in these spots hasn’t been profitable and likely will not be profitable long term. However, this isn’t the same Chiefs team that we’re used to seeing at this stage of the playoffs. Kansas City has beaten one playoff all season – the Dolphins twice. Last week, they took advantage of a broken, beaten down Miami team ill equipped for the sub zero weather, especially with their litany of injuries.
That convincing win last week shouldn’t change your mind about the Chiefs’ offense. For most of the Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes era, their offense has been untouchable. That isn’t the case this season, as they finished the year ranked just 11th in EPA per play. I did a deep dive for Lineups, contextualizing the downfall of the Chiefs’ offense, and I’d recommend giving it a read for more insight.
The Chiefs simply don’t have a downfield passing game. Mahomes finished the regular season with the lowest aDOT of his career and entered Week 18 with the lowest passer rating on 20+ yard throws in the NFL. The Bills run a high rate of two-high safeties, keeping everything in front of them, so I don’t expect much of a vertical threat from Kansas City this week.
Unlike Miami last week, who had to blitz at a 56% rate to get pressure without their top three edge rushers being out, Buffalo has the ability to generate pressure without blitzing in this game, especially if Mahomes is forced to hold onto the ball for longer than he’d like. Overall, the Bills ranked 7th in pass defense EPA this season.
The Chiefs enter this game with the best defense of the Mahomes era, ranking 7th in DVOA and 6th in EPA. The weakness of Kansas City’s defense, however, plays directly into Buffalo’s biggest strength. The Chiefs are woeful against the run, ranking 28th by EPA, and — under Joe Brady — the Bills have evolved into a power rushing team that leans on an offensive line ranked third in adjusted line yards.
I expect the Bills to utilize the same game plan they used against the Cowboys earlier this season, running the ball at a 72% rate on early downs and controlling the ball for over 35 minutes. Brady has weaponized Josh Allen’s legs in a way we haven’t quite seen before and James Cook has also been a huge focal point for this offense.
Mahomes is playing his first road playoff game in a place that’s been impossible to win in recent years as Buffalo is 19-3 straight up in their last 22 home games. The Chiefs have allowed just 16.7 points per game, but Allen has gone 20-6-1 ATS (77%) against teams allowing less than 20 points per game, which is the second-best of 247 quarterbacks over the last 20 years behind just Tom Brady.
Allen has simply been the better quarterback than Mahomes this season, and the Bills are the better team in this game. It’s scary to bet against Mahomes in the playoffs, but I’ve known all year that I would be backing the Bills in this spot. Everything’s coming up Buffalo this week.
Jacob’s Best Bet: Bills -2.5