NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS) for the Divisional Round

Can the road teams continue their recent success?

It was a fantastic Wild Card Weekend of the NFL playoffs with the road teams taking three of the four matchups. It was not the best round for the young quarterbacks so we'll see if Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff can pick up the slack. The spreads are wide-ranging for the four divisional playoff matchups with tight ones in the AFC and bigger ones in the NFC. Let's take a look at the four matchups after a 3-1 week last week.

 

Record 46-33-3 (3-1 in the playoffs)

 

Here are the NFL picks against the spread for the Divisional Round:

 

Indianapolis Colts (11-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), 4:35 p.m. ET (Sat.)

The Colts extended their streak to five straight wins after knocking off the Texans in Houston last week. They piled up 200 rushing yards in that one and the defense confused and harrassed Deshaun Watson. Everyone is pointing out how dangerous this team is, but really I challenge anyone to name someone on Indianapolis' defense other than All-Pro rookie linebacker Darius Leonard. I've been watching football for quite a while and don't know too many of them. Now they play their third straight road contest and head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. Kansas City limped down the stretch, losing two of its last three. Patrick Mahomes is probably the MVP of the league, but this team went 1-4-1 against the spread to end the regular season. There's also the specter of Andy Reid's playoff woes looming. I think that's why a lot of people are backing the Colts especially at the price of 5.5. I don't love either side in this contest, but I'm looking at the total which is 57. That is a really high total for both of these teams. Yes, I know that Kansas City's defense is exploitable, but I think that Indianapolis wants to control the clock so it doesn't end up in a shootout with Mahomes and company. Once again, the first game on Saturday is my least favorite but I'm looking at the under. I think the Colts' defense can slow down the Chiefs somewhat. SELECTION: Under 57 (Kansas City 28-24)

 

Dallas Cowboys (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (13-3), 8:15 p.m. ET (Sat.)

It pains me to say this as an Eagles fan, but once again I like Dallas on Saturday. The Cowboys didn't play great in their win over the Seahawks last week, but Pete Carroll's game plan was perplexing to say the least. They continued to try and run the ball instead of unleashing Russell Wilson, which is what everyone said Seattle had to do to win the game. Dallas' defense is going to be the difference in this one as Los Angeles limped down the stretch. The Rams lost their last two games against playoff teams, falling 15-6 at Chicago and 30-23 at home to the Eagles. Yes, they did win their final two contests but that was against the Cardinals and 49ers. Don't forget how many Cowboys fans will be at this game considering Dallas' training camp is in California. Todd Gurley did not show up on the injury report so that probably means he's healthy for the first time since the loss to Philadelphia. The Rams' defense has not been what he thought it was going to be in the preseason. I'll take the touchdown and say thank you very much.

SELECTION: Cowboys +7 (Dallas 27-21)

 

Los Angeles Chargers (13-4) at New England Patriots (11-5), 1:05 p.m. ET (Sun.)

For the third straight week, the Chargers are on the road as they take on the Patriots in New England. There's a chance for snow in the forecast which will make Foxborough an even tougher place to play. Yes, the Chargers have won six of their last seven and have shown a propensity to win on the road. However, I'm not picking against New England in this situation until I see the Patriots lose at home in the playoffs. They have spent the last two weeks hearing everyone tout the other teams' Super Bowl potential without much mention of themselves. Are they 100 percent healthy? No, they are not as Rob Gronkowski seems like a shell of himself and Tom Brady has shown his age at times. The Chargers' defense is going to be tough to move the ball on. Remember, last year these two teams played in New England, a game the Patriots won 21-13. In that one we saw both teams have some success gaining yards, but not putting up a ton of points. I'm not a huge Anthony Lynn guy, but you can't deny what he's done so far with this team. It's a great ATS battle with Los Angeles being 8-1 against the spread this season in road games, against a New England team that has covered 20 of its last 28 home contests including six of eight this year. Give me the under in this one with the Patriots winning. SELECTION: Under 47 (New England 21-17)

 

Philadelphia Eagles (10-7) at New Orleans Saints (13-3), 4:40 p.m. ET (Sun.)

The one thing I can say for this matchup is that it will not be 48-7 again like the regular season meeting went. The Eagles have pointed to that game as the turning point and it's probably true considering they've won six of seven since then. Nick Foles is instilling such confidence into this team that it's really hard to go against him. Foles threw two interceptions last week, but led the team down the field for the game-winning drive. The defense is back to clamping down on the run and the secondary is doing just enough to win. New Orleans is basically playing with two weeks off since a lot of starters didn't play in the 33-14 Week 17 loss to Carolina. We know how good Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are as an offensive trio. We also know how tough it is to win in the Superdome with those great fans. The one thing you can't quantify though is having a winning attitude and having things go your way. If Philadelphia can continue to control time of possession then that will reduce the number of possessions for Brees and company. New Orleans is only 13-12 against the spread at home the last three seasons. I think the Saints get the win, but I'll take the eight points and say thank you. SELECTION: Eagles +8 (New Orleans 24-20)

 

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

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