NFL Playoffs Sportsbook Picks
The theme of the round-of-8 games is young vs. experienced. The young includes the Eagles, Titans, Jaguars, and Vikings, with their lack of playoff experience and very iffy quarterback situations — Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, and Casse Keenum.
They’ll square off against proven commodities in Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Drew Brees — all of whom have played in the Super Bowl. All this sets up for a must-see divisional round. Here’s our betting predictions, with all odds courtesy of Bovada!
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles
It doesn’t get any more oddball than this line. A sixth seed is favored on the road (in a hostile environment no less) against the conference’s top seed. Odd because that’s a first-time occurrence in NFL history. No one believes in Nick Foles, obviously.
His performance his last two starts since Carson Wentz’ injury shows you why. Foles followed a 59.4 quarterback rating in week 16 with a 9.3 outing in week 17. 9.3! Single digit! He completed less than 50 percent of his throws and tossed two interceptions in that span, as well.
Add us to the list of Foles doubters. While we don’t think Atlanta, a dome team, will come into the bitter cold Philadelphia and blow them out, they should be able to cover three points regardless.
The Falcons’ 26-13 dismantling of the Rams last week was mighty impressive, particularly their speedy defense containing the high-flying Los Angeles offense. Atlanta has peaked at the right time, winning seven of their last nine (with both losses coming to New Orleans and Minnesota).
Over/under 48 points: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
History shows us no one holds a grudge better than Tom Brady. It also tells us no one exacts revenge more than Brady, either.
The latest slight for Brady is a scathing ESPN report that suggests his maniac ego has created a rift in New England’s power circle of him, Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft. As he proved after deflategate, spygate, and being passed up in the NFL Draft, Brady always gets the last laugh. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Brady single-handedly drop 40 points on the Titans.
However, we also expect to Tennesee to get in the end zone themselves. Marcus Mariota carried them to a stunning victory over the heavily-favored Chiefs a week ago, as Mariota passed and caught his own touchdown plus threw a key block in the waning moments to close out the comeback win. He’ll don the superhero cap once again on Saturday and help Brady push this game past the over easily.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5)
Back in week 5, Roethlisberger tossed a career-high five interceptions leading to a 30-9 beatdown at the hands of the then-unknown “Sacksonville” defense. Well, week 5 was lightyears ago in NFL time.
Akin to Brady, I expect Roethlisberger to be out for blood on Sunday. He’ll have the services back of Antonio Brown, who missed the season’s final two games with a torn calf. As bright as cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s future is, he’s still too green to realize Brown in January will be a much tougher test than a relatively-meaningless October matchup.
Also, we don’t trust Blake Bortles to look like any semblance of a playoff-caliber quarterback. Bortles became just the second signal caller to finish a postseason game with more yards rushing (88) than passing (87) in last week’s 10-3 win over Buffalo. No matter how good Sacksonville’s defense is, you’re going to have to score points to keep up with Big Ben.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Viking (-4)
Let’s call this one what it is, the de facto NFC Championship game. Whoever wins can practically book their trip to Super Bowl 52 (or for Minnesota, stay home and become the first team to host and play in the Super Bowl).
We can guarantee this one will be a dogfight that comes down to the final possession. Under such circumstances, New Orleans +4 is the go-to pick. Heck, we’re confident enough to believe the Saints win the game if you want to go with the more gutsy moneyline bet.
We don’t know about you, but something about Drew Brees instills more confidence then Case Keenum. After torching a good Carolina defense for 376 yards passing in the wildcard round, he’ll be ready against an even scarier Minnesota defense.
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