This article is an early betting preview for this week’s Division Round games. I’ll include my personal power ratings, Super Bowl odds, and mini-game previews with recent trends. I’ll also include my bets and leans for the week at the end of the article.
My power ratings are designed to be a starting point for point-spread betting between two teams. They take into account recent performances, long-term injuries, coaching, and strength of schedule. These ratings are intended to help predict performances in the present, but they’re not necessarily predictive for the rest of the season.
I will take my Power Ratings into account when I make my weekly against the spread picks for the week, but I’ll also consider current injury reports, home-field advantage, weather, and other factors that may be relevant. I’m currently baking in a one and a half to two-point advantage for home teams. I hope you find these ratings useful and good luck with your wagers!
|Rank||Team||Power Rating||Record (ATS)||Ratings Change||Pre-Wild Card Super Bowl Odds||Pre-Divisional Round Super Bowl Odds|
|1.||Kansas City Chiefs||9.5||14-2 (7-9)||+.5||+225||+200|
|2.||Buffalo Bills||7.5||14-3 (11-6)||—||+700||+600|
|3.||Green Bay Packers||7.5||13-3 (10-6)||+.5||+450||+375|
|4.||Baltimore Ravens||7||12-5 (11-6)||—||+1100||+800|
|5.||New Orleans Saints||6.5||13-4 (10-7)||—||+750||+600|
|6.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6.5||12-5 (9-8)||+.5||+1000||+900|
|7.||Los Angeles Rams||4||11-6 (10-7)||+1||+3300||+2000|
|8.||Cleveland Browns||3.5||12-5 (7-10)||+.5||+5000||+3000|
Divisional Round Matchups
(6) Los Angeles Rams (+2000 SB odds) at (1) Green Bay Packers (+375)
Spread: Packers -7
Time: 4:35 p.m., Saturday
The Rams have consistently demonstrated they have the best defense in the league this season, and they did it again in their dominant 30-20 victory over the Seahawks as three-point road underdogs in the Wild Card Round. Los Angeles has now kept five straight opponents to 20 or fewer points, something it’s done in 11-of-17 games this season. The Rams will face their toughest test of the season against a Packers offense that’s posted 30+ points in 12-of-16 games this season. The Packers have played over the total in five straight playoff games while the Rams snapped a four-game under streak last week. The Rams have plenty of injury situations to monitor this week between Aaron Donald (ribs), Cooper Kupp (knee), Jared Goff (thumb), and John Wolford (neck). Donald’s situation is critical since he’s arguably the most valuable defender in the entire league, and the Packers will be playing just their second game since they lost LT David Bakhtiari (ACL) for the season.
Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur closed out their second consecutive 13-3 season to start their careers together, and they’re +120 favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl with three games remaining in the NFC. While the Rams will head into this game a bit banged up, the Packers had the chance to rest for the first time since their Week 5 bye in early October. Green Bay won six straight games to end the regular season to chase down the Saints for the NFC’s top seed and the conference’s only bye. The Packers covered in 4-of-6 games in that span with four of their wins coming by 14+ points, three of which came against playoff teams (Bears x2 and Titans).
(5) Baltimore Ravens (+800 SB odds) at (2) Buffalo Bills (+600)
- Spread: Bills -2.5
- Total: 50
- Time: 8:15 p.m., Saturday
The Bills and the Ravens both enter with identical 11-6 ATS records, and the Dolphins are the only other team with 11 ATS victories in 2020. Buffalo did have its eight-game cover streak snapped last week against the Colts. They still won outright for the eighth time in that nine-game span with their only loss coming on the Hail Murray pass against Arizona in Week 10. Buffalo was in a position to grab the ATS victory last week before it allowed a pair of quick scores to Indianapolis in the fourth quarter after holding two different double-digit leads in the final 12 minutes. The Bills may have lost Zack Moss for the season after he got carted off with an ankle injury against the Colts. The Ravens just held the Titans to 13 points in the Wild Card Round, and they’ll be tasked with making Josh Allen uncomfortable this week. The Ravens blitz at a league-high 44.1% rate and Allen’s 8.6 YPA when kept clean drops to 6.6 YPA when under pressure.
Baltimore’s defense impressed last week but its offense left something to be desired. The Ravens muscled out just 20 points against a Titans’ defense that gave up 79 combined points to the Texans and the Packers in Weeks 16-17. The Ravens’ offense looked dead in the water until Lamar Jackson pulled out a superhuman 48-yard touchdown run on a third-and-9 play in which the Titans seemingly had him contained in the pocket. The Ravens now have six consecutive outright victories and seven straight ATS covers since a pair of outright losses to the Patriots and the Titans in Weeks 10-11. The Ravens finished the regular season with the league’s best point differential (+165) despite six teams owning better records than them. Lamar has 80+ rushing yards in five of his last six games after reaching that mark just twice in his first 10 games.
(6) Cleveland Browns (+300 SB odds) at (1) Kansas City Chiefs (+200)
- Spread: Chiefs -9.5
- Total: 55.5
- Time: 3:05 p.m., Sunday
The Browns (7-10 ATS) and the Chiefs (7-9) are the only teams remaining in the playoffs who own losing ATS records. Cleveland finally got their point differential back to dead-even with their 11-point victory (48-37) over the Steelers as five-point road underdogs. Cleveland became the first team to score 28 points in the first quarter of a playoff game, and they picked up the franchise’s first playoff victory since the 1994 season under Bill Belichick. This game could feature some fireworks like Cleveland’s last three contests against playoff-caliber offenses. They’ve played games that featured 85 combined points against the Steelers, 89 combined points against the Ravens, and 76 combined points against the Titans since the beginning of December.
The Chiefs enter the Divisional Round as the clear favorites (+200) to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but they played below their lofty expectations to close out the season. It’s been two months since the Chiefs looked truly dominant as they haven’t won a game by more than one score since they wiped out the Jets 35-9 in Week 8 on the first day of November. They’ve failed to cover in seven of their last eight games heading into the playoffs with their only ATS victory coming by half a point in a 32-29 victory over the Saints in Week 15. Andy Reid’s teams have been excellent coming out of bye weeks despite their failed cover in a 35-31 victory against the Raiders after their Week 10 bye earlier this season. Including the playoffs, Reid’s teams are 24-5 straight up and 20-9 ATS after byes.
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+900 SB odds) at (2) New Orleans Saints (+600)
- Spread: Saints -3
- Total: 51.5
- Time: 6:40 p.m., Sunday
Part three of this trilogy will hopefully be more compelling than the original and the sequel from earlier this season. The Saints beat the Buccaneers 34-23 in the season opener as four-point home favorites before they ripped Tampa Bay 38-3 as three-point road underdogs on Sunday Night Football in Week 9. Tom Brady took a season-high three sacks in each of those contests, and he needed 74 attempts to post 448/2 passing (6.1 YPA) with five INTs. Brady’s weaponry is better this time around with Antonio Brown fully integrated into the lineup after he made his 2020 debut against the Saints in Week 9. Ronald Jones is uncertain for this weekend after a pre-existing quad injury swelled up on their flight to Washington last week.
The Buccaneers survived a scare from a frisky Washington squad led by Taylor Heinicke last week, but they failed to cover as 10-point road favorites in their 31-23 victory. The Buccaneers will get some much-needed defensive help with LB Devin White and DL Steve McLendon activated off the COVID-19 list on Monday. The Saints have covered in eight of their last 10 games after getting their two best offensive players back last week in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The Saints have held five opponents to single-digit point production during their 10-game hot streak, including against the Bears last week in their 21-9 victory as 11-point home favorites. Kamara and Thomas combined for 189 of New Orleans’ 385 total yards, and they punched in two of their three scores against the Bears. Brees has nine touchdown passes with no interceptions on 97 total attempts (9.3% TD rate) in three meetings against Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers in 2019-20.
Brolley’s Early Bets
For complete write-ups check out the Divisional Round Best Bets article.
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) vs. Cleveland Browns
Over 55.5 points Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Small parlay: Chiefs -9.5/over 55.5 points Cle-KC
Brolley’s Early Leans
Los Angeles Rams (+7) — Los Angeles’ quarterback situation (and rightfully so) is the only reason this line is higher than it would have been just a few weeks ago. I believe the Packers would’ve come in as 3-to-4 point favorites before Jared Goff’s thumb injury in Week 16. Bookmakers gave Rams’ bettors three-points of line value last week when Seattle opened as 4.5-point home favorites against the Rams after closing Week 16 as 1.5-point home favorites against LA. I’m inclined to take the line value with the Rams once again this week since it worked out well last week against Seattle. I agree with the early money that’s come on the Rams to start the week, but I’m going to wait this game out until I get a better sense of the injury situations for Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and these Rams quarterbacks.
New Orleans Saints (-3) — My power rating and my eyes are telling me to bet on the Buccaneers, but this matchup has been an absolute nightmare for Tom Brady and company this season. I’m going to ride this game out to see where this line goes because I think the Buccaneers will get plenty of public support. I would guess this line will settle at -3 this week and I’m comfortable laying that number, but I’m not in a rush to bet it just in case some -2.5s pop up at some point,