Welcome to the Sunday 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 Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point 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 Sunday’s Divisional Round matchups.
Recapping Wild Card Weekend
Wild Card round winners: Colts + 1 (lean), Colts moneyline, Seahawks +3
Wild Card round losers: None
ATS Picks: 1-0 (.1000)
ATS Leans: 1-0 (.1000)
Moneyline: 1-0 (.1000)
Sunday Divisional Round NFL Betting Picks
Los Angeles Chargers (1-0, 12-4 reg. season) vs. New England Patriots (0-0, 11-5 reg. season)
Over/Under Total: 47.5
How They Fared Last Time Out
The Chargers defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 21-7, in a road Wild Card matchup to earn their way into the Divisional Round. Philip Rivers threw for only 160 yards without a touchdown. However, he also stayed away from any miscues against the daunting Ravens defense. Los Angeles’ offensive line allowed just one sack. And the combination of Melvin Gordon (17 carries, 40 yards, one TD) and Austin Ekeler (11 carries, 29 yards) offered just enough to keep the chains moving on occasion. Mike Williams led the receivers with a modest 2-42 line. Then, an aggressive Chargers defense outperformed Baltimore’s more heralded unit. The Bolts took Lamar Jackson down on seven occasions and limited him to 248 total yards (194 passing, 54 rushing). They also held the potent running back duo of Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon to 36 yards on 14 rushes.
The Patriots last took the field in Week 17. That’s when they dismantled the New York Jets by a 38-3 score. New England clinched their first-round playoff bye with the win. Tom Brady threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns, hitting Julian Edelman, James White, Phillip Dorsett, and Rex Burkhead for his scores. Sony Michel paced the ground attack with 14 carries for 50 yards. Edelman (5-69) and Chris Hogan (6-64) were the top pass catchers. The Pats defense couldn’t goad the turnover-prone Sam Darnold into any interceptions, but they did sack him on four occasions and caused him to fumble once.
- Questionable: RB Melvin Gordon (knee)/FB Derek Watt (shoulder)
- Questionable: DE Deatrich Wise (ankle)
Regular Season Matchups
The Chargers and Patriots didn’t meet during the 2018 regular season.
Summing It Up
The Chargers may be one of the more under-publicized 12-4 teams in recent memory. For instance, Los Angeles saw the likes of the Chiefs, the Texans, and the Patriots grab more attention overall in the AFC. Yet all Los Angeles did was put together six- and four-game winning streaks and play impressively on both sides of the ball. The Chargers ranked in the top half of the league in both total yards per game (365.0) and opponent yards per game (327.5). They also finished the regular season with a stellar 7-1 road record before toppling the Ravens last Sunday at M & T Bank Stadium as well. Their one away loss was, all things considered, justifiable. They fell to the crosstown-rival Rams by a 35-23 score.
Five of the Chargers’ seven away wins were by eight points or more, so they weren’t just squeaking by outside of their home field. Then, they proved their ability to win in difficult road environments by edging the Chiefs and Steelers in their own backyards. A lot of their success when traveling was due to highly efficient defense as well. Los Angeles allowed the fifth-fewest points per game on the road (19.5). They also averaged the fifth-most sacks per contest (3.2) outside of ROKiT Field. And on the offensive side of the ball, the Chargers’ running game was also more effective. Their 122.5 ground yards per road tilt ranked eighth in that category and was 17.2 yards per contest than what they compiled at home.
For their part, the Patriots were a perfect 8-0 at home, so this shapes up as a battle of strength vs. strength. However, it’s worth noting that of the three playoff teams New England faced at Gillette Stadium, the Pats beat the Texans by seven in Deshaun Watson’s first regular-season game after ACL surgery in the opener and also squeaked by the Chiefs by a field goal. New England’s strong home metrics were partly boosted by 38-point tallies against division patsies Miami and New York. Moreover, in the latter Week 17 thrashing, the Jets appeared to be simply going through the motions.
New England’s offense should find some stiff opposition in a Los Angeles defense that’s gotten even better since Joey Bosa finally made his season debut in Week 11. The Chargers ranked in the top half of the NFL in both pass yards (233.6) and rush yards (108.7) allowed per road contest. Then, the Patriots’ punchless pass rush (30 sacks, second fewest in the NFL) is even less likely to find success versus a Los Angeles offensive line that was tied for the eighth-fewest sacks allowed. That combination could certainly be pivotal in helping the Chargers stay close. Perhaps most importantly, Rivers finished the regular season with a 32:12 TD:INT and his best completion percentage (68.3) since the 2013 season.
By the Numbers
The Chargers are 10-7 (58.8 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 5-1 mark (83.3 percent) against the spread as road underdogs. Then, Los Angeles is 8-5 (61.5 percent) versus the number in conference games this season.
The Patriots are 9-7 (56.2 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 6-2 (.750) mark versus the number as home favorites. Then, New England is 6-6 (50.0 percent) against the spread in conference games.
The Final Word
The Chargers more than proved their mettle in last week’s road playoff win over Baltimore. The environment may actually be a tad more palatable this week, even with the aura of Bill Belichick and Brady looming over this game. Los Angeles has the running game and defense to hang close in this spot, with even an outright upset not out of the realm of possibility. Even given Rivers’ past futility against the Belichick-Brady duo, there’s much less of a gap between this year’s Chargers and Patriots squads. I’m leaning strongly toward the Chargers keeping this very close throughout and sliding in under the manageable number.
The Lean: Chargers +4
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 9-7 reg. season) at New Orleans Saints (0-0, 13-3 reg. season)
Over/Under Total: 51.0
How They Fared Last Time Out
The Eagles earned their way to the Divisional Round with a hard-fought 16-15 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Nick Foles worked his postseason magic yet again, leading a 12-play, 60-yard march that culminated in a two-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate with 56 seconds remaining. Philadelphia’s special teams then came through on the Bears’ last-gasp drive, partly blocking a Cody Parkey 43-yard field goal attempt with 10 seconds remaining. Foles finished with 266 yards and two touchdowns although he also threw a pair of interceptions. Alshon Jeffery led the way on the receiving front against his old squad, totaling six catches for 82 yards.
The Saints fielded a preseason-worthy team the last time they took the field in Week 17. New Orleans dropped a 33-14 decision at home to the Carolina Panthers. But given the circumstances, there weren’t many conclusions to draw from that outcome. Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara both sat for the Saints while Mark Ingram (19 snaps) saw an abbreviated workload, totaling 28 yards on five rushes and adding a 2-15 line through the air. Michael Thomas was the one Saints front-line player to see close to a normal amount of playing time, posting a 5-29 tally on 41 snaps.
- Out: QB Carson Wentz (back)
- Questionable: WR Alshon Jeffery (ribs)/ WR Golden Tate (knee)/ WR Mike Wallace (fibula)/ DE Michael Bennett (foot)/ CB Sidney Jones (hamstring)
Regular Season Matchups
The Saints notched a 48-7 home victory over the Eagles in Week 11. Brees racked up 363 passing yards and four touchdowns without an interception, averaging 12.1 yards per attempt. The game served as rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith‘s NFL coming-out party. Notably, he finished with a 10-157-1 line. Michael Thomas totaled four receptions, 92 yards, and a score. Ingram led the way on the ground with 16 rushes for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Meanwhile, Kamara notched a 37-yard receiving score on his only reception. The New Orleans defense sacked and intercepted Carson Wentz on three occasions apiece.
Summing It Up
The Eagles were besieged by injuries early and often this season, which led to an extremely rocky road back to the postseason for the defending Super Bowl champs. In fact, Philly didn’t punch their ticket to the playoffs until disposing of short-handed Washington in Week 17 by a 24-0 score. The Eagles notched wins in five of the last six games overall. Outside of the Week 17 triumph, only one other victory during that stretch unfolded on the road. That said, it notably came in the form of a huge upset versus the Rams.
Nick Foles started the final three games of the regular season and last week’s playoff win over the Bears. With four straight victories under his belt, he comes into Sunday’s contest with plenty of momentum. However, he’ll run into a hornet’s nest in the form of a Saints defense that’s been elite at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans is allowing the second-fewest points per game at home (18.5). They’re also yielding the third-fewest rushing yards per contest of any team on its home field (85.9). Of course, having been dismantled by the Saints in the aforementioned Week 11 matchup, Philadelphia has felt the wrath of that unit firsthand.
For their part, the Eagles were a lot less prolific on offense this season, regardless who was under center. Philly averaged a modest 22.5 points per game, compared to 29.0 per contest in 2017. The Eagles put up fewer yards per game on the road (345.7) than at home (379.2). Unsurprisingly, a similar disparity reared its head in passing yards (254.2, compared to 280.6 at home) and rushing yards per game (91.4, compared to 98.6 at home).
The Saints also present as one of the worst matchups in the league for Zach Ertz, arguably the Eagles’ most productive healthy offensive player. New Orleans allowed the third-fewest catches (55) and receiving yards (626) to tight ends this season. Moreover, Philadelphia’s struggles in protecting the passer (40 sacks allowed) also spell trouble against a Saints defense that racked up the third-most sacks (49) in the NFL.
Finally, the fact that the Eagles are also markedly worse on defense when traveling further makes a case for a potential double-digit loss in this spot. Philly allowed the sixth-most total yards per road contest (393.7), including the second-most pass yards per game (303.3). Indeed, the latter figure is especially worrisome when facing Brees. The MVP candidate completed 76.3 percent of his passes while generating a 21:1 TD:INT across seven home games.
By the Numbers
The Eagles are 8-9 (47.1 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 2-2 mark (50.0 percent) versus the number as road underdogs. Then, Philadelphia is 6-7 (46.2 percent) against the spread in conference games.
The Saints are 10-6 (62.5 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 3-4 mark (42.9 percent) versus the number as home favorites. Then, New Orleans is 8-4 (66.7 percent) against the spread in conference games.
The Final Word
The Eagles, and Foles specifically, have made a habit of defying late-season odds for two straight years. Nevertheless, we predict the carriage turns into a pumpkin in this spot. The Saints are well-rested and will take their game up a level in a home environment that can be virtually impossible for opposing teams to overcome, especially in the postseason. New Orleans also has too many weapons for Philadelphia. In fact, the Saints’ ground game could prove to be the Eagles’ undoing here. This number is a hefty one to cover, but I see the Saints as at least 10 points better than the defending champs by game’s end.
The Pick: Saints -8, Saints moneyline