Super Wild Card Weekend is in the books. While we saw our fair share of blowouts throughout the weekend, we were in the midst of our own sizable victory as we started the postseason on a promising 5-1 ATS run. We nearly had a perfect slate, but we bet on the wrong NFC West club on Monday night with the Cardinals completely falling on their faces against the Rams. That certainly wasn't the note we wanted to end on, but it was an extremely profitable slate nonetheless.
Now, we'll shift our attention to a divisional round that has four heavy-hitter games on deck for us. We'll look to stay hot as we roll out our latest picks.
2021 regular season
Locks of the Week ATS: 50-36-4
Playoffs (through Wild Card Weekend)
I loved the way Joe Burrow looked last week against the Raiders in his first taste of playoff action. The moment didn't seem too big for him and he played well, which was to be expected given what we saw out of him during his days at LSU. While Burrow may have checked some boxes for him, the Raiders were able to run the football on the Bengals as Josh Jacobs averaged 6.3 yards per carry. With the Bengals placing starting defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi on injured reserve, running lanes could be even more open for the Titans, who are expected to get Derrick Henry back in the fold. If Henry is healthy and the running back we've grown accustomed to seeing, Tennessee could (literally) run away with this game.
That said, I think Cincinnati keeps this game close enough to take the field goal hook at +3.5. The Bengals have covered in five straight coming into this matchup and are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games.
Projected score: Titans 27, Bengals 24
The pick: Bengals +3.5
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The 49ers were able to pull off the upset against the Cowboys in Dallas, but it was tough to feel great about them coming out of that win. San Francisco was essentially begging the Cowboys to come back in that matchup with Jimmy Garoppolo making a number of mistakes that -- against a better opponent -- would have sent them home. The Packers, under Aaron Rodgers, are the type of team that the 49ers cannot make those types of late-game mistakes against because that quarterback will be able to make you pay. Rodgers hasn't been able to beat the Niners in the playoffs in the three previous games they've gone head-to-head in his career, but I believe that changes this postseason.
The Packers were an NFL-best 7-1 ATS at home this season and are 4-0 ATS in their previous four trips to the divisional round. San Francisco has been a strong road team (6-4 ATS), but I believe this team will have some late-game mistakes that ultimately prove to be its undoing. It also doesn't help that they may not have star pass rusher Nick Bosa (concussion) to pressure Rodgers.
Projected score: Packers 30, 49ers 21
The pick: Packers -6
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Both of these teams turned in strong performances in the wild card round, each winning by multiple scores. While the Rams defeated the Bucs in their regular-season matchup, I do think the calculus changes with this game being played at Raymond James Stadium. At home, the Buccaneers averaged an NFL-best 409.8 yards per game and an average margin of victory of 16.1 points, which also topped the league.
The Rams were also a statistically strong team on the road this year but were under .500 away from SoFi Stadium against the spread. Against teams with a winning record, L.A. was also 2-5 ATS over their last seven games.
I see Tom Brady being able to negate the Rams pass rush with quick throws from the pocket and pick his way down the field to build up enough of a winning margin that goes above this field goal spread.
Projected score: Buccaneers 30, Rams 24
The pick: Buccaneers -3
This is arguably the best game on the divisional slate as it's a rematch of the AFC Championship from a season ago. Both of these quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen threw five touchdowns in their playoff wins last week, so we could be gearing up for a wild shootout. With that in mind, I do think this could be a situation where Buffalo not having star cornerback Tre'Davious White finally comes back to bite them. Sure, they didn't need White against a Mac Jones-led Patriots team last week, but they certainly could use a talent like that to slow down Mahomes.
Because this line is under the field goal threshold at just Chiefs -2, I don't mind laying the points here with Kansas City. Andy Reid's team has been stellar at home as of late, going 5-0 ATS in their previous five games at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are also 6-1 ATS in their last six home playoff games.
Projected score: Chiefs 30, Bills 26
The pick: Chiefs -2