NFL

NFL Betting Guide: Divisional Round (Sunday)

The high-stakes, single-elimination drama of the NFL's postseason is here.

We're down to eight teams and four games to decide which teams are geared towards Super Bowl LVI.

Sunday's action starts with the star-studded Los Angeles Rams visiting the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then, the weekend concludes with the highly-anticipated AFC showdown between the high-flying Buffalo Bills and the Midwest juggernaut Kansas City Chiefs.

In the most voluminous period of NFL betting, where is the sharp money? What do the wise guys think? Is the public on the wrong side? Let's find out.

Note: All lines come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and lines and/or projections may have changed since the publishing of this article.

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Spread: Buccaneers -3.0
Total: 48.0

Both the Rams and Bucs cruise into this game after total laughers where the opposing offenses just showed up failing to execute wide-open plays, so this one is a tough read for certain.

The visiting L.A. Rams seemingly have less to stress. Matthew Stafford got the playoff-win monkey off his back, and they've got a lot in their favor. Their running game got a massive boost with the return of Cam Akers on Monday, their star-studded receiving corps led by Odell Beckham (yes, the one that plays the more valuable role on the perimeter) is firing on all cylinders, and their menacing 35% pressure rate collected 10 hurries against Arizona.

They'll need every bit of it to dethrone the GOAT. Even without Chris Godwin, Tom Brady and the Bucs embarrassed Philadelphia defensively and could see a boon with potentially both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones back in the lineup in this one.

With the seventh-best offense and fifth-best defense per numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, the Rams are the best remaining team in the NFC, according to the model. Tampa Bay was the best overall offense in the NFL, but they ranked just 12th overall defensively. With home field in the Bucs' direction, it's no surprise to see this one so close.

Ultimately, this comes down to one singular aspect, personally -- the health of the Bucs' offensive line. Both Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs would have been non-participants in Wednesday's practice, and Wirfs particularly seems in serious doubt for the contest. Tampa ceded three sacks after Wirfs' injury on Sunday, and the Eagles didn't have Von Miller and Aaron Donald rushing at their 44-year old quarterback.

Without Miller, the Rams trumped the Bucs 34-24 in Los Angeles earlier this season. That was at full health as well. Even with the game now in Tampa, the improved Rams' pass rush and running game should take a lot of the load off of a Stafford-Sean McVay combination that I don't quite trust compared to their counterparts.

As far as the total, it should side with your projection for the winner. The Rams were just 21st in seconds per play this season, and they'll drastically slow down the pace in a positive script. Tampa Bay was fifth in that same category and prefers to play fast. I will say, with a clear forecast, it's interesting the total is so much lower than the previous match with the Rams' defensive additions.

I'm holding a unit on the under until word becomes clear on the Bucs' offensive line, but I am confidently ready to deploy one on the red-hot Rams moneyline (+124) to dethrone the defending champs.

Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Rams 24-20

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Spread: Chiefs -1.5
Total: 54.5

In the most anticipated game of the weekend, I have the most conviction.

The Bills' nearly flawless win over the Patriots turned a lot of doubters into believers. Josh Allen composed the single highest-rated game on PFF for a quarterback this year against a Belichick-led defense. There really shouldn't have been much doubt in the first place.

I was as nervous as any for them when Tre'Davious White went down on Thanksgiving. Still, they maintained the top overall defense in numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics for the entire season, and Allen led the third-ranked offense by those same metrics. They didn't bring their fastball some weeks, but when the Bills have this season, they've bludgeoned teams to a league-best +231 point differential. For my money, they're the best team in the NFL.

Then, there's the Chiefs. numberFire's second-best offense, per their schedule-adjusted metrics, isn't really the question mark for them after hanging 42 points on a solid Steelers defense. The question has been numberFire's 22nd-ranked defense all season, and that concern hasn't exactly been alleviated by closing the season allowing at least 24 points to every quarterback not named Ben Roethlisberger since December 12th.

Buffalo routed Kansas City -- in Kansas City -- 38-20 in October. The Bills' running game led by Devin Singletary has improved significantly since their first matchup. Therefore, there's really just one defense I trust to get stops in this bout, and they'll be wearing white. I'll be deploying two full units on Buffalo's moneyline. It comes at a little better price (+108) than the -110 spread.

Considering the Kansas City offense is hot entering the rematch, and these two teams are top-10 squads in both early-down, first-half pass rate, and seconds per play, the high total is deserved. Our model and I agree, though, that it's a tough one to project as a result. The model has this game going over the 54.5-point total just 51.43% of the time and makes no official pick.

Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Bills 31-24