The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs have arrived, and the first four of the final eight teams battling for the right to lift the Lombardi will be on the field Saturday, with the remaining four playing Sunday.
For fans of the Seattle Seahawks, it’s not uncommon to be sitting watching other teams play in the divisional round, as the Hawks have only advanced past the Wild Card once in the past seven seasons. However, with the team have opted to move on from head coach Pete Carroll after fourteen seasons the offseason brings new uncertainties and unknowns, not the least of which is who will be leading Seattle on the sidelines during the 2024 season. In any case, with a pair of games both days this weekend, fans can sit back and enjoy the football without the stress of worrying about how Dan Quinn or Raheem Morris or whoever is going to mess up the 2024 season. Thus, turning the attention to the quartet of games to be played Saturday and Sunday, here are the predictions for how those games turn out.
(All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook)
Texans @ Ravens — 1:30pm — ESPN/ABC/ESPN+ — O/U 43.5
Yes, the Houston Texans are a great story and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is playing phenomenally in Bobby Slowik’s offense, and that’s all nice, but Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens have come absolutely locked in when facing high level competition this season. The victories over playoff teams this year for the Ravens include a 28-3 whooping of the Cleveland Browns, a 38-6 win over the Detroit Lions, a 33-19 victory over the San Francisco 49ers and a 56-19 thumping of the Miami Dolphins.
In short, the Texans started their 2023 season with a loss to the Ravens, and that’s likely how they will end their season as well, probably a low scoring battle that fails to hit the over.
The Pick: Under 43.5, Ravens win and cover
Packers @ 49ers — 5:15pm — FOX — O/U 50.5
This is a matchup of two storied rivals rekindled, as both teams look to advance to the NFC Conference Championship Game on the back of their young signal caller. For the San Francisco 49ers it’s Brock Purdy, whose production is phenomenal, but who is not making anyone forget about Joe Montana or Steve Young. On the other side of the field it’s Jordan Love who has absolutely burst onto the scene in recent weeks in his first year as a starter for the Green Bay Packers, and he is absolutely helping fans forget Aaron Rodgers.
With all that in mind, the Niners are playing at home and well rested coming off a bye, and while it would be great to watch them lose, they’re double digit favorites in this game because they are likely going to win. At least it should be a high scoring affair that is enjoyable to watch and should hit the over.
The Pick: Over 50.5, 49ers to win but fail to cover
Bucs @ Lions — 12:00pm — NBC — O/U 49.5
Ford Field was absolutely on fire during the Wild Card Round and there is zero doubt that the fans of the Detroit Lions will be out in force cheering their team on in hopes of advancing to the NFC Championship Game. The Lions have just a single playoff win this millennium, but quarterback Jared Goff has plenty of playoff experience from his time in Los Angeles and should be able to carry the Lions to victory.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t go down without a fight, and they have the ability to score with any team in the league given their receiver trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and David Moore. However, while Baker Mayfield and the Bucs might be able to keep it close, expect the Lions to win and for the over to hit.
The Pick: Over 49.5, Lions to win and cover
Chiefs @ Bills — 3:30pm — CBS — O/U 45.5
Twice in the past three seasons Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills have had their season come to an end with a playoff loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Both of those losses were at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, though, and Sunday the two teams will be playing at Highmark Stadium in Buffalo. The showdown will be just the fourth time in his career that Mahomes plays somewhere other than Arrowhead during the postseason, with the three prior starts coming on the neutral fields of Super Bowls LIV, LV and LVII.
The temperature is not expected to get above freezing during the game Sunday, and that should keep the scoring low enough they don’t reach the over, and Josh Allen finally gets his signature postseason win over Mahomes.
The Pick: Under 45.5, Bills to win and cover