Wild Card Weekend came and went, and it was a doozy. Three of four games were competitive and came down to the last seconds, and now we should get some excellent matchups in the divisional round as well.
Even with the great matchups on paper, the oddsmakers aren't making any of the lines that close. Maybe it's because three of the four teams that won in the first round of the playoffs were wild cards? The best seed to come out of Wild Card Weekend was Dallas, who was the worst division winner in the NFC as the No. 4 seed.
Whatever the case, there are four pretty large spreads for the divisional round games, which you can stream on fuboTV (Try for free). Let's dive in and take a look at them. If you've got thoughts or early picks, hit me on Twitter @WillBrinson. And if you want to hear our podcast recap of the wild card round, hit up the subscribe page for the Pick Six Podcast, our daily NFL show, hosted by yours truly.
All lines via Westgate
Sat. Jan. 12, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC)
Once you dig into the numbers and the matchup a little bit, perhaps it shouldn't be that shocking to see the Chiefs, the AFC"s No. 1 seed, as big favorites here. They stormed out to a huge start at home, covering their first three games and laying waste to the NFL. But then the Chiefs cooled down against the number, as many teams often do when they're covering spreads early: Kansas City was 1-4 against the spread at home their final five games of the season. They also suffered their only loss -- in a crazy, last-minute meltdown to the Chargers -- at home during that stretch. Their only cover at home down the stretch was a Week 17 blasting of the helpless Raiders.
When looking at this matchup, it's also understandable why the Colts wouldn't be big 'dogs. Frank Reich has been tremendous coaching Indianapolis this season and the Colts have Andrew Luck. Were it not for Patrick Mahomes, Luck might very well be in the MVP conversation. The Colts also possess a formula to mess with the Chiefs, thanks to a dominant offensive line and ground game that's come alive down the stretch. Marlon Mack is finally becoming a feature back, averaging 110 yards a game and five yards per carry over the final three regular season games and the playoff win over the Texans. Pounding the ball, chewing up clock and keeping Mahomes off the field is a recipe to mess with the Chiefs.
At the same time, bet against the Chiefs at your own peril: Mahomes and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce can light up a defense. Andy Reid with multiple weeks to prepare for a matchup (a.k.a. ANDY REID OFF THE BYE!) is tough to stop.
The over/under of 57 is by far the highest of the playoffs so far -- we saw Colts-Texans peak out around 49 or so, but it never came close to hitting. The Chiefs averaged 32.8 points per game at home and the Colts are more than willing to score some points and get in a shootout, which probably explains why this line is moving up.
Also moving up? The Chiefs as favorites. It's moved to Chiefs -6 in some places already. I'd be surprised if it hit a full touchdown, but could see it lingering in the 6 or 6.5 range over the next week.
Sat., Jan. 12, 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
Wow. This line is really high. Right? The Rams have been one of the best teams in football all year long, but laying seven points in a divisional-round game is pretty substantial. Only two non-Patriots teams have covered a divisional round spread of seven points or more this decade (the 2014 Seahawks beat the Bears and the 2010 Bears beat the Seahawks) and the Rams, for as good as they are, limped into the playoffs. They lost to the Bears in Chicago on Sunday night in Week 14 and then to the Eagles at home the next Sunday night. Los Angeles clinched a bye with wins over the Cardinals and 49ers, but the Cowboys are a much better team and match up fairly well against them.
The Rams rank low against the run (28th in DVOA) and the Cowboys love to run. The Rams want to establish the run and the Cowboys are great against the run (fifth in DVOA). The one big difference between the Seahawks and the Rams? You would assume Sean McVay will have a plan in place to get receivers open down the field against a susceptible Cowboys secondary.
This is a pretty high over-under though. We could see some fireworks on Saturday night if Vegas is right here.
Chargers at Patriots (-4.5), O/U 48
Sun., Jan. 13, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Another semi-surprising line, because the Pats, who have dominated football for nearly two decades, are less than a touchdown favorite at home. It's probably because the Chargers have looked like one of the best teams in football and just put together an impressive effort against Baltimore in the wild-card round. Lamar Jackson and Co. nearly came back, but the Chargers largely dominated that game with defense.
Tom Brady is a little different than Jackson, though. Jackson was the youngest quarterback ever to start a playoff game, while Brady will be breaking his own record for oldest quarterback to start a playoff game. The Patriots can beat you by passing, beat you by running and have had two weeks to get rested and to gameplan.
New England has hosted a divisional round game 12 times (!!!) since 2001 and has only been less than a touchdown favorite once since 2005, when they were a 4.5-point favorite over Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Even more impressively, they've only failed to cover once at home in the divisional round since 2011, when they beat the Ravens by four points (35-31) after the 2014 season. New England has won seven straight divisional games at home. This run they're on is pretty ridiculous. Fade Bill Belichick and Brady in the playoffs at your own peril, especially off a bye at home.
The over/under is kind of low here, but the Chargers are a methodical team and you'd think the Pats play better defense at home? As it turns out, though, the last eight divisional matchups in New England have gone over the total.
Eagles at Saints (-9), O/U 51.5
Sun. Jan. 13, 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX)
A lot of points here too, although much less surprising given the Saints' history in the playoffs when they have homefield advantage. This is kind of interesting: the Saints are 2-0 ATS as a touchdown favorite or more in home playoff games since 2001 and 0-3 ATS in that same span as a favorite of less than a touchdown. Those games were last year against the Panthers (Carolina covered late), the overtime win over the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and a thriller against Andy Reid and the Eagles after the 2006 season.
Philadelphia is scary, man. Nick Foles and the Eagles DON'T STOP BELIEVING and just keep winning playoff games. I mean, I don't know how else you explain what happened against the Bears, where Chicago was clearly a better team for most of the game and Philadelphia just kept making plays and Foles just kept producing magic. Vegas clearly believes this is where the miracle run ends.
The total is interesting here, because the over is 5-0 in the Saints home playoff games since 2001. New Orleans has scored 31, 45, 31, 45, 27 in those games. If you assume they can get to 38 against the Eagles defense (which isn't crazy), then you just need two touchdowns from Foles and Philly's offense. Foles is a better quarterback indoors, so this might be a play to look at.