Since we found out the eight teams who would be playing in the NFL divisional round this weekend, the point spreads on each of the four matchups have shifted. On Saturday, the Colts take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the afternoon, and then the Cowboys play the Rams in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in prime time. On Sunday, New England welcomes the Chargers in an early afternoon affair, followed by a late afternoon matchup between New Orleans and Philadelphia down in the Big Easy. We have updated NFL betting point spreads for each game as well as our up-to-the-minute prediction for each matchup.
NFL Divisional Round ATS Picks
You can only pick one. 💪
— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2019
Saturday, January 12
Indianapolis (+5) at Kansas City (4:35pm ET, NBC)
This game might end up with the highest point total of the four matchups. Why? We have two terrific quarterbacks playing at a high level right now in Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes. We have at least one defense that has been giving up points in bunches right now, in Kansas City — and the Chiefs’ scheme could torch the Colts as well. Luck has T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron as his two top targets, while Mahomes has Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The Colts have the better defense of the two teams right now, but the Chiefs have the higher ceiling as far as scoring points go. At this time of year, defenses tend to slow the game down and deliver wins, which is why I’m picking Indianapolis to cover in this game.
Dallas (+6.5) at Los Angeles Rams (8:15pm ET, FOX)
Which version of the Dallas offense will show up this week? Will it be the slow, grinding unit that only put up eight points against Carolina in the opener and got outclassed by Tennessee in the early going? Or will it be the dynamic unit that hung 36 on the Giants and 24 on the Seahawks last week? The Cowboys are getting terrific work out of Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, and the key is Dak Prescott’s arm. If he can hang in the pocket and throw accurately, while mixing in some runs, Dallas can move the ball effectively. If he holds onto the ball too long in the pocket and takes sacks (or even strip-sacks), the Cowboys will be in big trouble.
The Rams have some similar questions to answer. Can they play with more confidence in the postseason after that surprising home loss to Atlanta in the wild card round last year? Can they stop the run? Can Jared Goff stop throwing interceptions — a problem that has just crept up in the last few weeks? The Cowboys come in on more of a roll on both sides of the ball, which is why I’m picking Dallas to cover here.
Sunday, January 13
Los Angeles Chargers (+4) at New England (1:05pm ET, CBS)
Can the Chargers really come into New England and win a playoff game? A lot of observers think so. After all, Philip Rivers seems to have overcome that bad interception bug. The Chargers have a legitimate pass rush and a bruising secondary. Their running game, with Melvin Gordon, is solid. But a lot of teams have come to Gillette Stadium with big ideas of victory and come away empty. Consider Jacksonville last year, leading in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship, only to see Tom Brady lead the game-winning drive and send the Jaguars home — and end Blake Bortles’ last full season at the helm.
The Patriots are definitely down on both sides of the ball. The tailback tandem of Sony Michel and James White, though, gives them some stability and keeps them from having to rely on Brady to do all the work. This feels like a swan song for Gronk and maybe Julian Edelman, which could mean monster performances from each of them. I like the Patriots to come back and win this late…which is why I’m picking the Chargers to cover in a heartbreaking loss.
Philadelphia (+7.5) at New Orleans (4:40pm ET, FOX)
This point spread opened at nine and has slid down since then, thanks to the heavy action on the Eagles’ side. The problem here is that I don’t think Philadelphia’s pass rush will be able to bother Drew Brees the way it did Mitch Trubisky, because Brees is so good at getting rid of the ball quickly. The Saints also have two elite tailbacks in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to take the pressure off Brees. Then there’s that New Orleans defense, which was tops against the run this year. Add the fact that this game is in New Orleans, one of the toughest road environments in the NFL, and I like New Orleans to cover.