After the six-game extravaganza of Wild Card weekend, the NFL settles into its more conventional form this week with a four-game Divisional Round setup. There are pros and cons to that but, if nothing else, the Divisional Round has long been a favorite of die-hards, with eight high-level teams on display and plenty of time to dive into each matchup. That is also true in this space and, after a strong close to the regular season and a 3-2 mark last week, the focus is on keeping the ball rolling.
Before we dive into the five selections for this week, let’s take stock of the 18-week progress.
- Wild Card: 3-2
- 2020 Season: 46-42-2
Come get these winners.
Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers UNDER 45.5 points
I was preparing to have the Rams in this spot but, once the number crept under seven, that was a no-go. Either way, I do like Los Angeles to at least slow Aaron Rodgers down a little bit, as the Rams are truly an elite defensive team. From there, Sean McVay doesn’t seem to have overwhelming confidence in Jared Goff and this should be a steady diet of Cam Akers and company, which keeps the clock churning.
Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills UNDER 49.5 points
The side is right where it should be, but the total is a touch high. Baltimore’s defense was really impressive a week ago in stopping Tennessee and, last week aside, Buffalo has been improved defensively in the back half of the season. The Ravens should lean on their running game and, while an Under involving Josh Allen is scary, you have to play the number sometimes.
Cleveland Browns (+10) over Kansas City Chiefs
I don’t want to talk about it. It’s hard to make five picks on a four-game slate and this number should be 8-ish, not 10. The Chiefs will be the public side by kickoff. The Browns are healthier than they were a week ago. That’s all I have.
[Ed. Note: BRRROOOOOOOWWWWWWNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSS]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) over New Orleans Saints
The Saints dominated the two previous matchups and that isn’t fun to think about. I do think this line indicates a real disparity between the two teams that I don’t think is there, since the full three-point swing doesn’t really happen for home-field advantage right. Moreover, I don’t trust the Saints offense, as they were clunky at best against a Bears defense that isn’t as good as the Bucs defense. In fact…
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints UNDER 52 points
We had to double-dip at least once this week, and the nightcap gets the call. The Saints averaged 36 points per game in the two previous meetings and, if that happens, we’re going down in flames on both. That New Orleans offense isn’t on the field right now in my view and, while I like the Bucs to cover as a dog, the Saints do have a defense that I trust. If it was 49, I’d lay off. At 52, let’s rock.