It’s one of the best weekends of football as the NFL Divisional round gets underway. We are blessed with another jam-packed slate as both number one seeds return to action against a Jags and Giants team that are both capable of exploiting their weaknesses. The 49ers and Cowboys battle it out in what will be a defensive slugfest while the Bengals cling for dear life amidst injury concerns against the high-powered Bills. History may dictate the results, so let’s dive in.
Jaguars vs Chiefs
Divisional Round Trends: Fade home favorites, Fade number 1 seeds, back road teams that missed last year’s playoffs, back moneyline underdogs of 7-11 points
Head-to-head trends: Jags are 1-5-1 ATS last seven meetings, favorite is 4-1-1 ATS last six meetings, Under is 4-1 last five meetings
We start off with arguably the number one team in the NFL against the rowdy Jaguars who had to put together an impressive comeback to sneak past the Chargers in the Wildcard round. The Chiefs have been a mainstay in the playoffs since the emergence of Mahomes and look to be geared towards another Super Bowl run.
Historic trends make this an interesting spot as it dictates the Jags have a far better chance at getting the upset than the spread implies. Fading home favorite number one seeds in the Divisional round have been a profitable angle with a 58%-win rate fading home favorites and a 66% rate of fading number one seeds.
Their head-to-head trends combat against this angle with the Chiefs owning this matchup over the past couple of years. Take this with a grain of salt as this involves going against very lowly Jaguars units. To play it safe, I will put the Chiefs in a Wong teaser to give me added security against the trends.
Bet: Chiefs teaser piece
Giants vs Eagles
Divisional Round Trends: Fade home favorites, Fade number 1 seeds, back road teams that missed last year’s playoffs, back road teams in division rematches, back moneyline underdogs of 7-11 points
Head-to-head trends: Road team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings, under is 4-1 last five meetings in Philadelphia, Giants are 5-1 ATS last six meetings in Philadelphia
Following up the Chiefs and Jaguars is the NFC one seed matchup as the Philadelphia Eagles take on divisional foe New York Giants. The Giants put together an impressive performance in their Wildcard matchup against the Vikings, abusing their poor defensive metrics with a balanced attack and brilliant performance from Daniel Jones.
In a Divisional round trends perspective, the Eagles fall into nearly all the same categories as the Chiefs. This puts them in a dangerous spot against a well-rounded Giants unit, making it a very intriguing matchup. Like the Vikings, the Eagles also struggle against limiting opposing running backs and they now get to dance with star running back Saquon Barkley.
The Giants have also fared well in a head-to-head perspective, covering 70% of their last 10 matchups. With so many metrics going against the Eagles, I will use them as the second piece of the Wong teaser for some added security. Sitting at a -7.5 favorite, this brings them down to -0.5 and will only have to win the game to cover this leg of the teaser.
Bet: Eagles teaser piece
Bengals vs Bills
Divisional Round Trends: Fade home favorites
Head-to-head trends: Over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings against each other, underdog is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings
We kick off Sunday with what is slated to be the most anticipated matchup of this Divisional Round. After a scary incident in their regular season matchup that resulted in the game being canceled, both units now face off against each other and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
With a majority of trends for this divisional round weekend involving underdogs, which don’t apply as much in this matchup against two teams with similar DVOA, we instead turn our focus towards the head-to-head trends.
Their recent head-to-head trends call for this one to be a high scoring affair with the over hitting 70% of the time in their last 10 meetings against each other. With the total sitting just slightly under the key number of 49, taking the over of 48.5 may be worth a look.
This issue this time around is that the Bengals are facing serious injury uncertainty on their offensive line. With three starters potentially being out, this gives the Bills defense a massive advantage in limiting the production of star quarterback Joe Burrow. With that said, I backed the Bills at -4 and would look to play them live around there should the opportunity present itself.
Bet: Bills -4
Cowboys vs 49ers
Divisional Round Trends: Fade home favorites
Head-to-head trends: Over is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings against each other, road team is 4-1-1 ATS in their last six meetings
Like the Bengals and Bills, Divisional round trends are less relevant in this matchup as both teams have a pretty similar DVOA rating. While the 49ers do come in on a longer winning streak, they also come in with the easiest strength of schedule on the season. The true question for this matchup us what version of the 49ers defense we’ll see and what version of the Cowboys offense we’ll see.
Their head-to-head trends lean towards their favor as the Cowboys come into this one as a +4 underdog on the road. Their elite offensive ability to both punish on the ground and through the air can keep the 49ers defense reeling, giving Dallas the opportunity to sustain drives down the field.
They also possess the second-best defense in the NFL per Overall Def DVOA, fielding a second level that is capable of limiting the production of their playmakers like Deebo and Aiyuk.
I have this as a tight one, hopefully not coming down to a Brett Maher game winning field goal. Back the Cowboys at +3.5 or higher in what will be a thrilling conclusion to the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Bet: Cowboys +4