We’re into the second round of the 2019-20 NFL postseason, and oddsmakers are constantly adjusting lines to account for all the action coming in on both sides of the spread.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Divisional Round Bets Against The Spread
Tennessee Titans (+9.5) at Baltimore Ravens
It’s important not to overreact to the Titans taking down a flawed Patriots team on the road. Yet the poise and execution of Mike Vrabel’s squad has to be taken into account. This team is not going to be intimidated by a physical Ravens team and should push right back against a Baltimore defense that ranked 30th against the run according to Football Outsiders when weighed against their schedule. Derrick Henry helped the Titans post the best TD/FG ratio (6.25) in the red zone by far this year, with second place posting a 3.42 ratio. The Ravens defense allowed the second-lowest ratio, but might not be able to stop the league’s best rusher if the Titans offense gets going.
We can’t expect Lamar Jackson to shrink under the lights of his first playoff game. The likely MVP has simply been too good, but is a polished enough passer to routinely burn the Titans weak secondary? Tennessee ranked 10th in DVOA rush defense and allowed just 1 rushing TD to QBs this year. They were vulnerable against TEs, so Mark Andrews will likely be a factor in the red zone.
Yet overall, Tennessee allowed the ninth-fewest points per drive (1.8) this season and was never listed as a double-digit underdog this season because of its solid defense. The Titans went 6-3 ATS on the road and 3-0 ATS with a rest disadvantage. With Henry controlling the pace of play, they can keep Jackson off the field and give themselves a chance in the Divisional Round.
Seattle Seahawks (+4) at Green Bay Packers
The Seahawks are 8-1 on the road this year and 6-2-1 ATS in those games. Since 13 of their 17 games this season have been decided by one score or fewer, a blowout loss seems quite unlikely. These teams are basically mirror images with middling defenses and shallow depth at the skill positions, but they both have Hall of Fame QBs that have erased those deficiencies at times with late-game heroics. Russell Wilson is 9-5 in the postseason, but 3-4 on the road. And Aaron Rodgers is 10-7 in the postseason, but just 3-2 at Lambeau Field.
Seattle suffered two bad division losses towards the end of the season because of a banged up offensive line that couldn’t protect Wilson. While it may appear that the Packers have a great pass rush because LBs Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith each have 12-plus sacks, their defensive line generated the second-lowest adjusted sack rate (5%) in the NFL this season. Wilson took 31 sacks over eight road starts this season, but completed 70.46% of his passes with a 107.2 passer rating in those games.
Rodgers was typically efficient with a 101.6 passer rating and 14:2 TD:INT ratio at Lambeau this year. Davante Adams and Rodgers should be able to exploit Seattle’s base defense, but not if Jadeveon Clowney and company can generate consistent pressure. The Seahawks defense has been great when Clowney is healthy and should keep this game close enough for an exciting finish. Since there is a good chance that a one-possession game goes north of the 4-point spread, we recommended teasing this line up towards 6 points or taking Seattle (+170 on DraftKings Sportsbook) on the moneyline in a virtual toss up situation.
Minnesota Vikings (+7) at San Francisco 49ers
After shocking the football world by winning in overtime at New Orleans when they were listed as 8-point underdogs, the Vikings are touchdown dogs once again. This line is surprisingly large considering Minnesota’s performance in the Wild Card round and San Francisco’s modest 61.4% chance to win the game according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. The Niners were 3-1 ATS with a rest advantage this season, but went 3-4-1 ATS at home (including 1-3-1 over their last five home games).
Minnesota has covered in four of its last five games and looks like a different team when Dalvin Cook is healthy. While the Vikings are 0-13-1 outdoors against winning teams since 2016, they played the Chiefs (26-23) and Seahawks (37-30) close this year and went 5-4 ATS on the road.
San Francisco’s fierce pass rush will make life tough for Kirk Cousins, but he executed against pressure with aplomb thanks in part to Adam Thielen’s first productive game in months. Minnesota’s defense allowed just 1 TD to TEs (no other team allowed fewer than 3) this season, so the Vikings speedy LBs may be able to cover George Kittle. After holding the Saints RBs to 42 rushing yards last week, the Vikes can limit the 49ers run game and force Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them. That formula has led to a few high-profile wins for the Niners, but they’ve almost always been close.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) vs Houston Texans
Underdogs have ruled against the spread this postseason and bettors should be very wary of taking home favorites, especially when the spread is hovering around double digits. That being said, the Chiefs are in a smash spot this Sunday against a Texans team that required overtime to come back and beat an offensively clueless Bills squad. The Chiefs are second in drive success rate and points per drive this year and their numbers are down overall because Patrick Mahomes wasn’t healthy during the middle of the season. With a week off to recover and extra time for Bye-Week Master Andy Reid to prepare, Mahomes should shred a Texans secondary that ranked 26th in DVOA pass defense and coughed up the third-most passing TDs (33) this season.
On the other side of the ball, Kansas City’s surging defense should key in on DeAndre Hopkins and limit a one-dimensional Texans offense. The Chiefs allowed just 10.4 PPG and 292.2 YPG while winning their final five regular season games by an average of 18.2 PPG. They held opposing QBs to a 79.0 passer rating with 16 sacks at home this season, and Deshaun Watson’s been under constant siege over the past few years. KC is most vulnerable against the run, so Houston’s best bet is to slow the game down with a steady diet of Carlos Hyde. But the Chiefs held Houston to 53 rushing yards in Week 6 and kept the Broncos, Patriots, Raiders, and Titans under 4 YPC during the second half of the season.
We still recommend teasing this line down below a TD and potentially parlaying the Chiefs with some of the underdogs on Divisional Round weekend as a safer play that could still yield good returns. Andy Reid’s teams are just 20-19 in the playoffs, but this is only his second go around with Mahomes under center.
This article was originally published Thursday morning. Lines are subject to change.
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