NFL Betting Preview: What Are the Top Divisional Round Bets on Saturday?
It's Round 2 y'all, and the big boys are coming to play on Saturday's two games of the Divisional Round.
According to our schedule-adjusted metrics, we will see four of the six best teams in the NFL, so we should be in for two outstanding games. For our appetizer, the third-ranked Los Angeles Rams will travel into the nasty confines of Lambeau Field and attempt to knock off the fourth-ranked Green Bay Packers. In our nightcap, the long-suffering Buffalo Bills (fifth) host the Lamar Jackson-led Baltimore Ravens (sixth).
Let's dive into what our model thinks could be some intriguing betting angles for these contests.
Two of the NFC's heavyweights over the last few seasons will square off in chilly Green Bay, where the Packers hope to continue their offensive assault. They will definitely be facing a stiff test, as the Rams boast the league's top-ranked defense, per our numbers. Green Bay enters as 7.0-point favorites over the Rams on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Aaron Rodgers spearheads Green Bay's offense, and he has played brilliantly this campaign. Rodgers has tossed 48 touchdown passes against only 5 picks and has done so in an efficient manner. His Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back of 0.39 is one of the league's best and is well above the league average of 0.13. That's a bit of a terrifying proposition for Aaron Donald and the D of the Rams, but this defense is certainly something special. Only the Josh Allen-led Bills have topped 30 points against Los Angeles this season.
For the Rams to stay in this game, Jared Goff will have to play at a higher level than he has been. While he certainly has a valid excuse for his poor play as of late -- the quarterback broke his thumb and will have three screws permanently in the thumb -- Goff has struggled this season to the tune of a 0.09 Passing NEP per drop back, generating only 20 touchdown passes against 13 interceptions. If there is a silver lining for this offense, it lies with the emergence of rookie running back Cam Akers down the stretch, as he posted 131 rushing yards and a score last week in a win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Per our oddsFire tool, the betting public is siding with the home team in a massive way -- 82% of bets and 87% of cash have come in on the Packers to cover as 7.0-point favorites. With the total at a paltry 45.5 points thanks to that stiff Los Angeles D, money continues to pour in on the over as 70% of the cash is backing it. Our algorithm agrees with the betting public -- we project the over to hit 60.39% of the time, and we have the Packers covering 7.0 points 59.17% of the time.
-- The Rams have been an against-the-spread (ATS) monster on the road as of late, rocking a 13-6 mark in their last 19 road tilts.
-- Points have been bountiful for the Packers in the playoffs. The over has been smashed in each of their last five postseason contests.
-- Head-to-head, this series has been dominated recently by the Pack. They have covered the spread in each of the last six matchups between these two.
Two of the league's most unique, high-flying offenses are set to take center stage Saturday night, and the main dish looks as tasty as the appetizer does with the Ravens traveling to Buffalo in this AFC tilt. Buffalo is a 2.5-point home favorite in a spread that has inched toward the Ravens.
If there's a team hotter than the Ravens right now, I'm unsure who that could be as Baltimore is winners of their last six contests. Lamar Jackson shed the label that he can't win a playoff game, beating the Tennessee Titans a week ago with a season-best 136 rushing yards. As a team, the Ravens' rushing attack, which includes a sprinkling of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, has now logged over 230 rushing yards in five of the six games during their winning streak. This will be an interesting test, as only two teams allowed more rushing touchdowns in 2020 than the Bills did.
Josh Allen has been amazing in this crazy 2020 season. Allen leads the league's most efficient offense, per our metrics, with a Passing NEP per drop back of 0.32, throwing for more than 4,500 passing yards this season. He is likely to connect plenty with Stefon Diggs, who was the NFL's leader in catches (127) and receiving yards (1,525). One area of concern for Buffalo is the running game, as Zack Moss is out, leaving Devin Singletary to carry the mail, though Allen does his thing on the ground, as well.
The betting public is backing Buffalo, with 68% of bets and 70% of cash supporting the Bills to cover, according to oddsFire. As far as our algorithm is concerned, we give some love to the Bills, projecting them to cover 2.5 points 60% of the time. Another decent value -- by our model -- is the total. which is 49.0 points. We have the over hitting 53.3% of the time.
-- Something has to give. The Bills have been outstanding ATS recently, covering in eight of their last nine, while Baltimore has covered in seven straight.
-- Lamar Jackson and crew have relished the role of underdog. They are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games as 'dogs.