Divisional Round Predictions
By: Grant Poarch
This week has felt so long because I have been waiting for these games since the last ones ended. A week ago, there were a couple of blowouts but for the most part there was entertaining football. As for my predictions, though, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. I went 3-3 on the money line and 4-2 on the spread. That brings my overall record on the year to 170-108 on the money line and 148-131 on the spread.
Look for a big dog to go down this weekend and some damn good football to be played. With that said, fade me at your own risk and tail me at your inevitable benefit. The odds listed are provided by DraftKings.
1/20: Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens (-9.5, O/U 43.5), 4:30PM EST, ESPN/ABC
Will Lamar silence the critics or will C.J. Stroud pull off the upset? Either way this game goes, I see it being a close one. This is too big of a spread. Vegas knows all but I’m not sure they have figured out how good C.J. Stroud is. All year long Stroud has been balling out and I see that continuing this afternoon.
Will Stroud ball out enough to win this game? I think he does. As much as I don’t feel great about fading this Ravens team. They have been legit all year long but I do have concerns. The first of those concerns is the Ravens’ defense. I know they are incredible. However, they are going to get picked apart by Stroud. Beyond that, I have concerns about Lamar Jackson. I’m not sure how it is possible for him to have not won a playoff game yet. I don’t buy into the narrative that he couldn’t ever do it but in this instance I see him coming up short. He hasn’t played in nearly three weeks now due to sitting out in the season finale against the Steelers and they benefitting from having a first-round bye.
I can’t wait for this game. It should be a good one and have outstanding quarterback play on both sides. That said, C.J. Stroud as this big of an underdog is too good to pass up. Give me the Cinderella story in this one.
Prediction: Houston wins, Houston covers +9.5
1/20: Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers (-10, O/U 50.5), 8:15PM EST, FOX
Wouldn’t it be wild if both one-seeds go down today? The reason why I think this one will be closer than people expect is the same reason why Houston will keep things close against Baltimore. Jordan Love has been balling out and I see that continuing today. San Francisco’s defense is no joke but they will struggle against Jordan Love.
While Jordan Love will have success, so will the San Francisco offense. Green Bay will have no answers for Christian McCaffery. I see him scoring at least one touchdown with a minimum of 100 yards total today. If McCaffery can go off the way I think he will, Brock Purdy’s job is going to be a lot easier.
The 49ers are a team of destiny this year. Sure, they have had their low moments but mostly they have looked like the dominant team I thought they were. They might not have a dominant moment today but make no mistake about who will be advancing to the NFC title game.
Prediction: San Francisco wins, Green Bay covers +10
1/21: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions (-6, O/U 49.5), 3:00PM EST, NBC
The ticket prices to this game are higher than Snoop. The crowd will be louder than an airplane. The Lions will be roaring like the kings they are. It is playoff football in Detroit. This is Detroit’s moment. Maybe they won’t win the Super Bowl but they will win this one. I faded them last week and I was proved wrong (at least on the moneyline… I won the spread fading them).
Tampa Bay is simply getting too much hype. They won the worst division in the NFL off a tiebreaker and beat what might have been the worst team in the entire playoffs in the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, don’t get me wrong. This team is scrappy. Tampa Bay is probably not the most comfortable opponent for the Lions due to their differences in play style. However, I see the Detroit defense making life uncomfortable for Baker Mayfield. Furthermore, the defense will make enough stops, especially in the running game, to give them the edge.
This game rides on the shoulders of Jared Goff. That makes me nervous but with the way Detroit has embraced him… anything is possible. Goff will do everything that Jalen Hurts couldn’t a week ago. He will push the ball downfield and hit Amon Ra St. Brown for big gains all game long. Give me the Lions in a close one.
Prediction: Detroit wins, Tampa Bay covers +6
1/21: Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills (-2.5, O/U 45.5), 6:30PM EST, CBS
The fact that Patrick Mahomes has not played in a road playoff game in his entire career is insane. That said, he will have his hands full this time. Josh Allen has the Bills as what appears to be the hottest team in the league. Buffalo is sure to be rocking and the team is sure to play their “A” game.
This is Josh Allen’s moment. When we look back on his career after he retires, we are going to look back on this game as the one that solidified him as one of the all-time greats. He is going to expose the Chiefs for the frauds they have been this season. Although KC’s defense has been good this year, they will get picked apart by Allen with Diggs going off as well.
On the other side of the ball, Mahomes will likely keep this close for a while due to the injury report from Buffalo being longer than Christmas. Beyond that, Mahomes at plus odds seems like a trap. He will continue to show us why is he is great but he wil get outdueled in the end.
Prediction: Buffalo wins, Buffalo covers -2.5