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Divisional Round Picks

Welcome to the Saturday Divisional Round edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll break down both games and analyze their profit potential at DraftKings SportsbookFanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports, and BetStars Sportsbook.

Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylinespoint spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.

Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.

Let’s take a quick look at how things went in the Wild Card Round and follow that up with a closer look at both of Saturday’s Divisional Round matchups.

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Recapping Wild Card Weekend

Wild Card round winners: Colts + 1 (lean), Colts moneyline, Seahawks +3

Wild Card round losers: None

Post-season record:

ATS Picks: 1-0 (.1000)

ATS Leans: 1-0 (.1000)

Moneyline: 1-0 (.1000)

Saturday Divisional Round NFL Betting Picks

Indianapolis Colts (1-0, 11-5 reg. season) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-0, 12-4 reg. season)

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Chiefs -5.5
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Chiefs -5.5
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Chiefs -5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Chiefs -5.5

Over/Under Total: 57.5

How They Fared Last Time Out

The Colts advanced to the Divisional Round with a 21-7 wild-card road win over the Houston Texans. Andrew Luck turned in an efficient line of 19-for-32, 222 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He added 29 yards on eight rushes. Marlon Mack was a vital component of Indy’s success. He turned 24 carries into 148 yards and a touchdown. T.Y. Hilton led the air attack with a 5-85 line. Then, Dontrelle Inman managed 53 yards and a touchdown on four grabs. Meanwhile, Eric Ebron continued his season-long red-zone success by logging a touchdown and three catches overall. The Indianapolis defense took Deshaun Watson down three times and defended seven of his passes.

The Chiefs last played in Week 17, closing out their stellar regular season with a 35-3 home thrashing of the Oakland Raiders. The victory clinched Kansas City the AFC West title and the conference’s No. 1 seed. Patrick Mahomes compiled 281 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 11.7 yards per attempt. The running back duo of Damien and Darrel Williams combined for 82 rushing yards and a touchdown. Tyreek Hill accounted for a touchdown on the ground and through the air, with his final receiving line checking in at 5-101. DeMarcus Robinson turned his only catch into an 89-yard score.

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Key Injuries

The Colts:

  • Questionable: WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle)/WR Dontrelle Inman (shoulder/finger)/WR Ryan Grant (toe)/ TE Eric Ebron (hip)/ DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)/ DE Tyquan Lewis (knee)/ DT Denico Autry (shoulder)/ S Malik Hooker (foot)

The Chiefs:

  • Questionable: RB Spencer Ware (hamstring)/ WR Sammy Watkins (foot)/ S Eric Berry (heel)

Regular Season Matchups

The Colts and Chiefs didn’t meet during the 2018 regular season.

Summing It Up

The Colts continued their remarkable run in the Wild Card Round. In an encouraging sign for their chances of advancing in the postseason, Indianapolis toughed out an impressive road win over Houston with two staples of playoff success: a running game and attacking defense. The challenge is exponentially tougher this week, however. The Chiefs forged a 7-1 home record this season. Kansas City also gave up the sixth-fewest points per game (18.0) at Arrowhead Stadium. Moreover, they countered by scoring the fourth-most points (32.4) per home contest.

In turn, the Colts were also a less effective offense when traveling. Indianapolis scored six full points less per game on the road (23.9) compared to at home (29.9). Taking a closer look, there’s a 36.9 passing-yards-per-game difference between the Colts’ road tally (258.1) and their home figure (295.0). Indy was only 4-4 on the road during the regular season. Three out of those four defeats were by more than Saturday’s five-point spread.

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The Chiefs’ defense has also been downright ferocious at home. For instance, KC gives up over 100 fewer passing yards per contest at home (221.4) than on the road (325.4). The Chiefs also averaged the second-most sacks per home game (3.9) in the NFL. And of Kansas City’s seven home wins, six were by more than Saturday’s five-point spread. Then, the Chiefs have a solid chance of getting Sammy Watkins back from his five-game absence due to a foot issue. The talented but oft-injured wideout has practiced in limited fashion the first two days of the week. His presence would give Kansas City’s air attack valued depth. The same applies to Spencer Ware, who also appears set to return from a hamstring injury. If he’s able to suit up, the Chiefs could trot out a three-headed backfield that also includes the effective Williams duo.

By the Numbers

The Colts are 9-7-1 (56.2 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 4-2 mark (66.7 percent) against the spread as road underdogs. Indianapolis is also 6-6-1 (50.0 percent) versus the number in conference games this season.

The Chiefs are 9-6-1 (60.0 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 4-4 (.500) mark versus the number as home favorites. Kansas City is also 8-4 (66.7 percent) against the spread in conference games.

The Final Word

Despite injuries and less flashy names, the Colts have the type of passing attack that can hang with the Chiefs for the better part of the game. Luck will press the Kansas City secondary throughout the contest while Mack should certainly find his fair share of running lanes. However, the Chiefs defense has been its best at home, and the psychological edge afforded by Arrowhead Stadium is legitimate. Clearly, KC is also the more rested squad, having enjoyed a first-round bye. While I see Indianapolis hanging tough for three-plus quarters, I envision KC having enough firepower to win by more than five points in front of a deafening crowd.

The Pick: Chiefs -5, Chiefs moneyline

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Dallas Cowboys (1-0, 10-6 reg. season) at Los Angeles Rams (0-0, 13-3 reg. season)

DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Rams -7
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Rams -7
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Rams -7.5
888 Sportsbook Odds: Rams -7

Over/Under Total: 49.5

How They Fared Last Time Out

The Cowboys earned their way to the Divisional Round with a 24-22 home win over the Seattle Seahawks. Dak Prescott completed 22 of 33 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He added 29 yards and another score on six rushes. A well-rested Ezekiel Elliott, who’d sat in Week 17, carried 26 times for 137 yards and a touchdown, adding four catches for 32 yards. After finishing the regular season on a down note, Amari Cooper led the pass catchers with a 7-106 line.

The Rams last took the field in Week 17, when they defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a 48-32 score. The victory secured Los Angeles the NFC’s No. 2 seed and the first-round playoff bye. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, with San Fran showing signs of life late by scoring 15 fourth-quarter points. Jared Goff completed an efficient 15 of 26 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns, with Brandin Cooks and Josh Reynolds each securing a pair. C.J. Anderson filled in for Todd Gurley for a second consecutive game and generated an impressive 23-132-1 line. The Rams defense sacked and intercepted Nick Mullens three times apiece.

Key Injuries 

The Cowboys

Questionable: WR Cole Beasley (ankle)/ WR Tavon Austin (groin)/ TE Blake Jarwin (ankle)/ DT Maliek Collins (illness)/ DT Tyrone Crawford (neck)/ DT David Irving (ankle)

The Rams

Questionable: RB Todd Gurley (knee)

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Regular Season Matchups

The Cowboys and Rams did not meet during the 2018 regular season.

Summing It Up

The Cowboys continued to deploy a potent concoction of a measured pace, an effective running game, a strong pass rush, and stingy secondary play to handle the Seahawks Saturday. Those are typically the components to winning postseason football. They’re also precisely the kind that give teams a fighting chance of remaining competitive on the road in the playoffs. Dallas will look to implement a similar plan versus the high-octane Rams. However, a ferocious pass rush masterminded by one of their former head coaches, Wade Phillips, could certainly spoil the party.

It’s also worth noting the Cowboys have been a drastically different offense away from the friendly confines of AT&T Stadium. Dallas is scoring an anemic 17.4 points per road tilt. That’s not only the seventh-lowest road figure in the NFL but also more than a touchdown less than the 24.9 points they averaged at home. Prescott was also a less potent field general on the road. He completed 63.7 percent of his throws outside his home field, as opposed to 72.2 percent on it. Then, his 8:5 TD:INT road ratio paled in comparison to his 14:3 home mark. Finally, his 85.6 road QB rating was dwarfed by his 109.5 home figure.

Therefore, Elliott could well be the weapon that keeps Dallas close enough for a cover. Elliott not only proved he could dominate on the ground and through the air this season but also was even more efficient on the road than at home. Zeke’s 5.1 yards per carry in away contests was a marked improvement over his 4.4 figure at home. Plus, the Rams gave up a robust 4.9 yards per carry to RBs this season. They also yielded 16 total touchdowns (12 rushing, four receiving) to the position.

Dallas’ defense also has the talent to help keep Saturday’s game within a touchdown. In fact, the Cowboys were ranked in the top half of the NFL in points (22.0) and rushing yards (118.8) allowed per road game. Dallas limited running backs to a stingy 3.8 yards per carry overall. Those are especially relevant numbers when considering the challenge presented by Gurley. Then, the Cowboys defense was a tough out through the air as well. The Cowboys allowed the seventh-fewest receptions (180) to wide receivers. Their overall stoutness is exemplified by the fact they rank in the top half of the NFL in both yards per drive (31.7) and points per drive (1.9) allowed.

By the Numbers

The Cowboys are 9-7-1 (56.2 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 4-3 mark (57.1 percent) versus the number as road underdogs. Dallas is also 7-5-1 (58.3 percent) against the spread in conference games.

The Rams are 7-8-1 (46.7 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 3-4-1 mark (42.9 percent) versus the number as home favorites. Los Angeles is also 5-7 (41.7 percent) against the spread in conference games.

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The Final Word

The Rams are a dominant home team, and they’ll certainly be well-rested. However, the spread is a sizable one, and it’s just over a touchdown, making it a bit more challenging to cover. The Cowboys have defied expectations all season and have the two hallmarks of postseason success at their disposal: a strong running game and defense. Los Angeles has been a bit less efficient on offense since Cooper Kupp‘s season-ending injury, and Dallas plays at a deliberate pace that could disrupt their rhythm further. While I still see a Los Angeles victory here, I’m leaning strongly toward the Cowboys coming in under the number.

The Lean: Cowboys +7.5

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