NFL Pick'em: Divisional Round

Written by John Ferguson
January 9, 2020
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NFL Picks: Divisional Round

Well, the wild card-round certainly lived up to its name last week. So many things went sideways in those games and many top experts had a huge whiff even in straight-up picks last week, myself included. I don't feel too bad about it though as even the expert consensus picks over at BettingPros lost 13 units going 0-4 straight up. We have to trust the process that was successful all season though and start from scratch analyzing all of the exciting action we will see with the top seeds coming off a bye. We have two days worth of games again this weekend as well, so if you plan on placing bets, don't sleep on the Saturday slate. Let's get to those picks! 

For more info see FantasyData's Latest NFL Odds page here.

Saturday Slate

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-7) (O/U 44)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Vikings are averaging 25.5 PPG overall this season but just 18.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The 49ers have allowed 19.4 PPG overall this season and 27 PPG over their last three games.
  • The 49ers are averaging 29.9 PPG overall this season (second-most in NFL) and 32.4 PPG at home.
  • The Vikings have allowed 19 PPG this season. 
  • The Vikings are 10-7 ATS this season. They're 5-4 ATS on the road and 3-2 ATS as the underdog. They're 4-1 ATS in their last five games. They're 4-3 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The 49ers are 9-6-1 ATS this season. They're 3-4-1 ATS at home and 4-6-1 ATS as the favorite. They're 4-2 ATS in their last six games. They're 4-3-1 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The OVER has hit in six of the last nine games for the Vikings.
  • The OVER has hit in seven of the last 10 games for the 49ers.

You can basically copy and paste the narrative from last week with the Vikes against the Saints and apply it here to their matchup against the Niners now. If we had a lock pick last week, it would have been taking the Saints over the Vikings but as part of a stunning weekend of football, that didn't happen. The Vikings defense did a superb job of shutting down Drew Brees and the Saints and the team won its first road playoff game in over a decade. Now the Vikes will have the task of traveling all the way to Santa Clara to face a rested 49ers team. Despite Kirk Cousins proving doubters wrong last week that he can't be clutch, the Vikes are again huge underdogs in this game.

The 49ers have trends on their side having beaten the Vikings at home in nine of their last 10 matchups. This is the first time we have seen the Niners in the playoffs since their solid run between the 2011-13 seasons while the Vikings have been here in two of the last three seasons. The Niners finished their last two games of the regular season strong with wins against the Rams and Seahawks, but some injuries on defense crept up and this once elite defensive unit suddenly had some serious question marks. Their 29-22 loss against the Falcons in Week 15 was their most recent speed bump as well as giving up 46 points to a Saints team that the Vikings just beat. Call it a knee-jerk reaction, but I can't bet against the Vikes ATS again this week. You also can't predict another miracle with them getting another huge upset either, though.

My Final Prediction: 49ers win 27-24

My Picks: Vikings +7, Over 44

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (-9.5) (O/U 46.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Titans are averaging 24.8 PPG overall this season and 27.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Ravens have allowed 17.6 PPG overall this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Ravens are averaging 33.2 PPG overall this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Titans have allowed 20.2 PPG this season. 
  • The Titans are 9-7-1 ATS this season. They're 6-3 ATS on the road and 4-3 ATS as the underdog. They're 6-2 ATS in their last eight games. They're 2-1 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The Ravens are 10-6 ATS this season. They're 4-4 ATS at home and 7-5 ATS as the favorite. They're 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games. They're 9-4 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The OVER has hit in nine of the last 11 games for the Titans.
  • The UNDER has hit in four of the last seven games for the Ravens.

derrick henry.jpgThe Titans were part of quite possibly the biggest upset last week as they marched into Foxborough and handed the great Brady/Belichick duo a big fat "L." They did it on the back of the regular season rushing king, Derrick Henry, who will now go up against a similarly stout rushing offense in the Ravens. I was really pulling for the Titans to make it into the preseason over the Steelers, but talk about a gauntlet. First, they had to face the Pats in New England, and now they have to travel to Baltimore against a Ravens team who has completely owned home primetime games as we have seen plastered all over the media this week. In case you have missed that, the Ravens are 14-1 in their last 15 home primetime games and have won 12 straight. The Titans are already kind of playing on borrowed time here, but they're really about the hit the buzzsaw.

We know the story with the Ravens already. How do you stop Lamar Jackson? Well, earlier in the season and last year it was by forcing him the beat you in the passing game and shut down the run. But, that hasn't exactly worked this season as the kid threw five TD passes in a single game three times this season. There really hasn't been a clear answer as to how you beat the Ravens in the last three months. The Titans have enough mojo and a strong enough offense all around to make me question this monster spread and that also makes me lean towards the over, but I don't think you can count on another outright upset.

My Final Prediction: Ravens win 28-20

My Picks: Titans +9.5, Over 46.5

Sunday Slate

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) (O/U 51)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Texans are averaging 23.5 PPG overall this season but just 19.7 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 19.2 PPG overall this season and just 9 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Chiefs are averaging 28.2 PPG this season.
  • The Texans have allowed 23.8 PPG this season.
  • The Texans are 8-8-1 ATS this season. They're 4-2-1 ATS on the road and 6-3 ATS as the underdog. They're 3-5 ATS in their last eight games. They're 5-4 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The Chiefs are 10-5-1 ATS this season -- tied for best in NFL. They're 4-3-1 ATS at home and 8-4-1 ATS as the favorite (tied for best in the league). They're 6-2 ATS in their last eight games. They're 2-6 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The UNDER has hit in seven of the last 10 games for the Texans.
  • The UNDER has hit in five of the last six games for the Chiefs.

Last week was a huge hurdle for the Texans to leap as they had struggled to get past the wild card round before. It took extra time, but they eventually came away with the win with Josh Allen basically doing everything in his power to try and give the Texans the game in the second half. Now, though, is where the Texans hit a wall. The team has never made it past the divisional round in franchise history. To do so, they will need to take on a rested Pat Mahomes-led Chiefs offense in Kansas City with a defense that was surging in the second half of the season. These teams did meet earlier this season and it's the only game this weekend that is a rematch. The Texans won that game 31-24 but that was when Mahomes was injured and before the Chiefs defense found its footing. Things won't be quite as easy this time around.

On the other hand here, Andy Reid is no stranger to choking in the playoffs. He has a tremendous track record of leading dominant teams through the regular season and folding like cheap lawn furniture come playoffs. They faltered in this round against the Pats in overtime last season and that was the first time the franchise had even made it that far since the early 90s. So, it hasn't just been an Andy Reid thing for the Chiefs as a franchise. This is another game that seems to have an unnecessarily large spread though in my opinion. We know the Texans defense and secondary especially is not great, but nearly 10 point underdogs against a team they beat once this season just doesn't feel right to me.

My Final Prediction: Chiefs win 26-20

My Picks: Texans +9.5, Under 51

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-4) (O/U 47)

Matchup Notes:

  • The Seahawks are averaging 24.8 PPG overall this season but just 17 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Packers have allowed 19.6 PPG overall this season and just 14.3 PPG over their last three games.
  • The Packers are averaging 23.5 PPG this season.
  • The Seahawks have allowed 23.9 PPG overall this season but just 19.8 PPG on the road. 
  • The Seahawks are 8-8-1 ATS this season. They're 6-2-1 ATS on the road and 4-2 ATS as the underdog. They're 1-4 ATS in their last five games and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against the Packers. They're 9-7 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The Packers are 10-6 ATS this season. They're 5-3 ATS at home (tied for best in NFL) and 7-5 ATS as the favorite. They're 10-5-1 ATS in the playoffs since 2009.
  • The UNDER or PUSH has hit in four of the last five games for the Seahawks.
  • The UNDER has hit in seven of the last eight games for the Packers.

Russell Wilson.jpgThe Seahawks basically won the battle of last man standing against the Eagles last week as injury woes continued to play out with Carson Wentz leaving in the first quarter of that game. There wasn't much in the way of fireworks in that game as both offenses struggled to get anything going but the Seahawks still managed a fairly easy yet unimpressive win. Now they will face an all too familiar foe in the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field which hasn't been a kind venue to the Hawks. They have lost eight straight here, continue to have no running game, and their passing offense hasn't been heard from in weeks.

The Packers also haven't seen elite form from their passing game compared to what we have been used to with Aaron Rodgers under center. That didn't keep them from finishing the season fairly strong though having won their last five games while only allowing 20 points once during that span. The Packers have faired better than the Seahawks in the past in the Divisional Round having made it to the Conference Round twice since winning the Super Bowl back in 2010. Health alone should put the Packers on top in this one but in a blustery day in Green Bay where it could feel like single-digits in temperature, I wouldn't anticipate too much of a rout. The Seahawks have also allowed fewer points on the road this season compared to at home.

My Final Prediction: Packers win 23-17

My Picks: Packers -4, Under 47


John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.