This article is designed to be an early betting preview for this week’s playoff 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.
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||Super Bowl LV Odds|
|1.||Kansas City Chiefs||8.5||14-2 (7-9)||—||+225|
|2.||Buffalo Bills||7.5||13-3 (11-5)||+.5||+700|
|3.||Green Bay Packers||7||13-3 (10-6)||+.5||+450|
|4.||Baltimore Ravens||7||11-5 (10-6)||+.5||+1100|
|5.||New Orleans Saints||6.5||12-4 (9-7)||+.5||+750|
|6.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||11-5 (9-7)||+.5||+1000|
|7.||Seattle Seahawks||4.5||12-4 (8-8)||-.5||+1300|
|8.||Pittsburgh Steelers||4||12-4 (10-6)||+.5||+2200|
|9.||Indianapolis Colts||4||11-5 (8-8)||-.5||+4000|
|10.||Tennessee Titans||3.5||11-5 (7-9)||—||+2800|
|11.||Los Angeles Rams||3||10-6 (9-7)||+.5||+3300|
|12.||Cleveland Browns||3||11-5 (6-10)||-.5||+5000|
|13.||Chicago Bears||1||8-8 (8-8)||-.5||+10000|
(1) Kansas City Chiefs (SB odds +225)
The Chiefs enter the playoffs as the clear favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but they’re playing below their lofty expectations. It’s been two months since the Chiefs looked truly dominant. 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 over November. They’ve failed to cover in seven of their last eight games heading into the plays with their only ATS victory coming by half a point in a 32-29 victory over the Saints in Week 15.
Wild Card Matchups
(7) Indianapolis Colts (+4000) at (2) Buffalo Bills (+700)
Spread: Bills -6.5
Time: 1:05 p.m., Saturday
The Bills enter the playoffs with an NFL-best 11-5 ATS record thanks to an eight-game cover streak to end the season. They have seven outright victories in that span, which all came by double digits, and their only loss came on the Hail Murray play against Arizona in Week 10. The Bills have yet to be favored by more than seven points during their hot streak but that’s likely to come to an end this week with early money coming on the Bills. Josh Allen threw for three touchdowns in one half last week against the Dolphins so he’s accounted for 3+ touchdowns in nine of his 16 games this season.
Indianapolis isn‘t exactly charging into the playoffs with some shaky second-half performances in the last two weeks against the Steelers and the Jaguars. The Colts have won four of their last five games to finish the regular season, but they’ve dropped three straight games against the spread. The Colts and their 39-year-old quarterback will head outdoors for the sixth time this season. They own a 2-3 ATS and straight-up record in outdoor games this season, and the early forecast for Orchard Park has temperatures sitting below freezing on Saturday.
(5) Baltimore Ravens (+1100) at (4) Tennessee Titans (+2800)
- Spread: Ravens -3.5
- Total: 54.5
- Time: 1:05 p.m., Sunday
The Ravens and the Titans will square off in the most anticipated matchup of Wild Card weekend. The Titans, of course, stunned the top-seeded Ravens 28-12 as 10-point road underdogs in the Divisional Round last season to end Lamar Jackson’s MVP season. Derrick Henry then rumbled for 133 rushing yards and the game-winning overtime touchdown in Tennessee’s 30-24 victory over the Ravens as six-point road underdogs. The Titans come into the playoffs having dropped consecutive games against the spread as they’ve given up 78 combined points to the Texans and the Packers.
The Ravens are storming into the playoffs with five consecutive outright victories and six straight ATS covers since dropping consecutive games outright to the Patriots and the Titans in Weeks 10-11. The Ravens have won four of their last five games by 14+ points and they have the league’s best point differential (+165) despite six teams owning better records than them. Lamar Jackson has returned to his running ways with 80+ rushing yards in four of his last five games after reaching that mark just twice in his first 10 games. Jackson is the most dynamic running QB and he’ll square off against the eighth player to run for 2000 yards in a season as Henry became the first player to reach 2K rushing yards since Adrian Peterson did it in 2012.
(6) Cleveland Browns (+5000) at (3) Pittsburgh Steelers (+2200)
- Spread: Steelers -4
- Total: 46.5
- Time: 8:15 p.m., Sunday
The Browns own an 11-5 record but they’re the only team in the playoffs with a negative point differential (-11). In fact, they’re just the ninth team in the Super Bowl to reach 10+ victories with a negative point differential. They joined the 2012 Colts as the only 11-win team to have a negative point differential. Cleveland backed into the playoffs by barely squeaking past the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers in Week 17, which came a week after they lost to the Jets in Week 16 without their entire WR corps.
The Steelers aren’t exactly surging into the playoffs either with just two strong quarters of offensive football with Ben Roethlisberger in Weeks 12-16. Pittsburgh and Cleveland have played twice this season but it’s difficult to take much from those contests. The Steelers ran the Browns off the field in a 38-7 victory back in Week 6 when Nick Chubb was injured and when the Steelers were humming both offensively and defensively. Pittsburgh then rested key players last week while the Browns were clearly looking to limit Chubb’s work as he saw a five-week low 44% snap share. Both defenses will be a little weaker this week with DE Olivier Vernon (Achilles) and CB Joe Haden (COVID-19) out of the lineup. The Steelers have covered four of their five matchups against Baker Mayfield in his first three seasons.
(1) Green Bay Packers (SB odds +450)
Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur closed out their second consecutive 13-3 season to start their careers together, and they enter this year’s NFC playoffs as +165 favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Green Bay won six straight games to chase down the Saints for the NFC’s top seed and only bye. The Packers covered 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).
Wild Card Matchups
(6) Los Angeles Rams (+3300) at (3) Seattle Seahawks (+1300)
- Spread: Seahawks -4.5
- Total: 42.5
- Time: 4:40 p.m., Saturday
The big question hanging over this game will be the status of Jared Goff, who had surgery last week on his throwing thumb. His status might swing this line in either direction, but it shouldn’t matter too much since he was averaging just 5.9 YPA with a putrid 3.0% TD rate in his last 10 games. The Seahawks just beat the Rams 20-9 in this matchup two weeks ago with Goff playing poorly through his thumb injury. Seattle closed as 1.5-point home favorites in that contest so the move from Goff to John Wolford has moved this line by a full field goal. Wolford averaged 6.1 YPA with 231 scoreless yards and an INT in their victory over the Cardinal last week.
The Rams have played under the total in four straight games in nine of their last 11 games since the calendars flipped to October. The Seahawks needed 34 combined fourth-quarter points with the 49ers last week to snap a seven-game under streak in Weeks 10-16. The Seahawks could be scrambling on defense this week with S Jamal Adams (shoulder) and DT Jarran Reed (abdomen) picking up injuries last week while the Rams could get LT Andrew Whitworth back. The Seahawks have been terrible as big favorites since their smoking hot four-game start to the season. They’re 1-6 ATS in their last seven games as 3.5-point favorites or more with their lone victory coming against a Jets team that no-showed in Week 14. The home team has won the last four meetings in this series over the last two seasons
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1000) at (4) Washington Football Team (+10000)
- Spread: Buccaneers -8
- Total: 45.5
- Time: 8:15 p.m., Saturday
The Buccaneers got the most coveted Wild Card Round matchup by locking up the fifth seed with a victory over the Falcons in the season finale. Tampa’s reward is a matchup with the Football Team, which became the fifth team to win a division with a losing record. Ron Rivera’s 2014 Carolina Panthers were the last team to do it, and those Panthers and the 2010 Seahawks each won in the Wild Card Round — the 1982 Lions and the 1982 Browns each lost their first games in the playoffs.
The Football Team has played under the total in five straight games with none of their games in that time reaching 41+ combined points. They also dropped consecutive games against the spread after running off a five-game ATS win streak in Week 11-15. Washington hasn’t lost by eight or more points since the Rams beat them 30-10 with Kyle Allen at quarterback in Week 5. Mike Evans’ status will be the big story of the week after he hyperextended his knee going for an end-zone target in the season finale. The Buccaneers ended the season on a 4-1 ATS, which included three straight covers as seven-point favorites or more. Tom Brady is averaging 8.4 YPA in each of those games with 15 total TD passes, and this game will likely come down to Washington’s front four getting Brady off his spot with their 8.2% sack rate (4th-best).
(7) Chicago Bears (+10000) at (2) New Orleans Saints (+750)
- Spread: Saints -9.5
- Total: 47.5
- Time: 4:40 p.m., Sunday
The Saints gave away their chance to host the NFC playoffs with their unexpected loss to the Eagles in Jalen Hurts’ first NFL start in Week 14. They also lost their chance for an opening-round bye, but they’ll get the weakest Wild Card team in either conference. The Bears muscled around some inferior opponents in Weeks 14-16 by out-scoring the Jaguars, the Vikings, and the Texans 110-54. The Packers put Mitch Trubisky and company back in their place with a convincing 35-16 victory in the season finale as Chicago managed just 4.8 yards per play.
The Bears did hang tight with the Saints in an overtime loss at Soldier Field in Week 8 but that was with Nick Foles at quarterback. That game also came before the Saints flipped the switch for the rest of the season the following week in their 38-3 victory over the Buccaneers. The Saints have covered in seven of their last nine games since they last played the Bears, and they’re expected to get their two best offensive players back this week in Alvin Kamara (COVID-19) and Michael Thomas (ankle). The Bears lost significant pieces to injuries in Week 17 with LB Roquan Smith (elbow) and WR Darnell Mooney (ankle) each leaving early.
Brolley’s Early Bets
Buffalo Bills (-6.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts
Los Angeles Rams (+5) at Seattle Seahawks
New Orleans Saints (-8.5) vs. Chicago Bears
Cleveland Browns (+4.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Brolley’s Early Leans
Baltimore Ravens -3.5 — The early betting momentum has been with the Titans early in the week, driving this line down from -4 to -3.5. I’ll be waiting this line out to see if any -3s start to pop for the Ravens later in the week.
Washington Football Team +8 — I’m not expecting Washington to get a whole lot of betting support so I’m holding out hope that this line gets to double-digits. I’m expecting the Buccaneers to win this week, but Washington’s defense should be able to keep this one relatively close especially if Mike Evans is unable to play this week.