Dajani Dimes had an average week in the wild card round, as we went 5-1 straight up, but 3-3 against the spread. As SportsLine's Allan Bell tried to tell me last week, teams that won the past 24 NFL playoff games went 21-3 against the spread. If favorites win straight up, they are covering. Sure enough, all six teams that won in Super Wild Card Weekend went 6-0 ATS. That's something to keep in mind again this week, as the point spreads in the divisional round are smaller.
It's very possible this will be the most entertaining round of the NFL playoffs. The Tennessee Titans get a chance to make a statement proving they are truly the best team in the AFC, Matthew Stafford goes head to head with Tom Brady and we get an AFC Championship Game rematch in the Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs.
Let's jump into some ATS playoff picks. Credit to the CBS Sports research team for providing the information found in this column.
2022 Playoffs ATS: 3-3
2022 Playoffs straight up: 5-1
2021 Top five picks record: 45-45
2021 Overall ATS record: 132-139-1
2021 Straight up record: 171-100-1
(4) Cincinnati Bengals at (1) Tennessee Titans
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
The Bengals are a much more scary matchup for the Titans than the Las Vegas Raiders would have been. If you had to point out a weakness on the Titans, it has to be the secondary/pass defense. Tennessee finished the regular season with the eighth-worst pass defense in the NFL, and the Bengals have a legitimate "big three" at receiver with Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and a great quarterback in Joe Burrow tossing the rock. The Bengals have what it takes to pull off an upset, but the Titans are the No. 1 seed in the AFC for a reason.
Nissan Stadium is going to be rocking on Saturday, and it's mostly because Derrick Henry is expected to make his return to the field. It's fair to question if he will look like the same dynamic playmaker after two-and-a-half months off, but Tennessee is going to run the ball no matter who's taking it from Ryan Tannehill. This Bengals defensive line has some issues worth worrying about. Larry Ogunjobi was placed on injured reserve, Mike Daniels is dealing with a groin injury, Josh Tupou has a knee injury and Trey Hendrickson is in concussion protocol.
I'm taking the Titans. The 3.5-point line is a bit weird, but as we discussed in the intro, winning teams are covering. The Bengals are 0-7 all time in road playoff games as well.
The pick: Titans -3.5
Projected score: Titans 27-23
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(6) San Francisco 49ers at (1) Green Bay Packers
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox)
The 49ers had a chance to make a statement against the Dallas Cowboys. They won the game, but they didn't make the statement they could have. Dallas scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and came 24 yards and a couple good decisions away from pulling off the comeback. The quarterback sneak call with no timeouts, not knowing how the ball gets spotted in hurry-up and all the penalties were something. Even so, the 49ers almost blew a 16-point lead at the end.
The Packers are probably the best team in the NFL, and Green Bay is entering the postseason healthier as well. The Packers and 49ers have met eight times in the playoffs since 1995. The winner of a Green Bay-San Francisco postseason matchup has advanced to the Super Bowl a whopping four times -- with the most recent coming in the 2019 NFC Championship Game. It's worth mentioning that Aaron Rodgers is 0-3 against San Fran in the playoffs. That will change this week.
The pick: Packers -6
Projected score: Packers 28-21
(4) Los Angeles Rams at (2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
Both of these teams coasted in Super Wild Card Weekend, but the Rams' win over the Arizona Cardinals was certainly surprising. Sean McVay's squad recorded a 23-point victory, and the defense made Kyler Murray look like a rookie again. The Bucs could return Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones or both this week, but I also believe this could be the week where Brady feels the losses of Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown more.
Mike Evans had no problem last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, catching nine passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. The other wide receivers didn't do much, however. Tyler Johnson caught two of three targets for 30 yards and Breshad Perriman caught just one pass for 5 yards on three targets. We saw both have a couple miscommunications with Brady as well. If L.A. contains Evans and Rob Gronkowski, that could lead to a loss for the Bucs. Additionally, the Buccaneers are dealing with several notable injuries which we all should keep an eye on as we inch closer to kickoff.
Stafford has won two of his last three starts against Brady. He's going to have to play turnover-free football, but I have the Rams upsetting the Bucs this week.
The pick: Rams +3
Projected score: Rams 29-24
(3) Buffalo Bills at (2) Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
We get an AFC Championship Game rematch in the divisional round, as the Chiefs host the Bills. I'm hopeful this is a shootout that goes down to the wire, because both offenses looked unstoppable last weekend. The Bills scored 47 points against the New England Patriots! They scored touchdowns on all seven offensive drives (not including kneel-downs), they averaged 12.3 yards per pass, converted every third down they wanted to and Josh Allen had more touchdown passes than incompletions. Like Allen, Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdowns to go along with 404 yards and one pick in the blowout win over the Steelers. Jerick McKinnon reintroduced himself to the NFL world in a big way, as he accounted for 142 yards of total offense and a touchdown.
If you recall, the Bills blew out the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 5. Allen had three passing touchdowns in the 38-20 victory, with two of them going for 35-plus yards. Mahomes and the Chiefs remember that loss, and they will get their revenge here in the divisional round.
The pick: Chiefs -1.5
Projected score: Chiefs 35-31