2018 NFC Divisional Round Betting Prediction

Posted by Rogelio Aguas on January 10, 2018 in

In the wild card round last week, the Atlanta Falcons — who did not qualify for the postseason until Week 17 of the regular season — went out to Los Angeles and delivered a 26-13 thumping of the NFC West champion Rams. They now head to Philadelphia to take on the top-seeded Eagles in the first game of the divisional round of the playoffs, set to kick off on Saturday afternoon at 4:35 Eastern time. The other wild card winners in the NFC, the New Orleans Saints, held off the Carolina Panthers at home and face the Minnesota Vikings up north. Take a look at our NFL playoffs bettting predictions for each of these NFC Divisional tilts.

2018 NFC Divisional Round Betting Prediction

First, let’s consider the Falcons and Eagles. No team holding the top seed has ever been the underdog in a divisional-round game before, but that’s where the Eagles are. Quarterback Carson Wentz blew out an ACL and is done for the season, and backup Nick Foles has led the offense to about half the points (15.7 as opposed to 28.3) per game — and that includes a big win over the New York Giants. It also includes a 19-point game against Oakland (with six points coming from the defense) and a shutout at the hands of Dallas in the season finale. Can the Eagles make it to the Super Bowl with Nick Foles running the offense? Can they even get past the Falcons?

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles have been one of the top teams in the league this year. They held Oakland to 10 points and Dallas to just six in the last two games of the regular season. However, Philadelphia also permitted seven touchdown passes over their last four games, tied for third most in the league. They may have used the bye to solve that problem — and we’ll see when the high-flying Atlanta offense shows up on Saturday afternoon.

Atlanta comes in having won seven of their last nine. The only reason why they struggled to make the postseason was a stretch late in the first half of the season where they dropped four of five games. A lot of people associate the Falcons with video-game style offense, but they played an old school game focusing on shutdown defense and controlling the time of possession and field position battles — and they doubled up the Rams. I don’t see the Eagles riding Nick Foles to a playoff win here, no matter how well the Eagle defense comes to play.

What About New Orleans and Minnesota?

Then we have the Saints’ trip north to take on the Minnesota Vikings. It’s important to remember that the Saints started the season with two losses before righting the ship. They had a glut of running backs until they sent Adrian Peterson to Arizona and got a solid tandem performance from Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. We know that Drew Brees can throw the ball — he is bound for the Hall of Fame, and he completed pass after clutch pass against the Panthers. However, the issue that the Saints has comes in their secondary. Cam Newton was able to complete a number of passes down the field to keep drives alive — and the Saints’ secondary committed a number of pass interference penalties that kept drives alive for the Panthers. That can’t happen against the Vikings.

We do have that result from Week One to look back at when we consider this game. Sam Bradford (remember him?) threw for 346 yards and three scores as the Vikings rolled to a 29-19 home win. However, the Saints have shored up their defense significantly — and the Vikings have had to go with Case Keenum at quarterback. It is Keenum’s emergence as a confident downfield passer, though, that has been key in Minnesota’s run to the postseason. I see the Vikings winning this one straight up, but it could go down to the game’s final possession.