The Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs hope to secure second straight trips to the AFC Championship game this weekend. Dallas versus San Francisco and the Giants versus the Eagles join those two divisional round games in this weekend’s playoff game slate.
Before reading today’s divisional round preview, check out the recap of last week’s wild card round, PayPerHead’s NFL Wild Card playoff game preview, to see how our writeup compared to the wild card round games.
There were no real surprises about the 49ers, Bills, and Cowboys outcomes. But the other three games were great first round playoff games.
Super Wild Card Weekend Didn’t Disappoint
Baltimore had to replace quarterback Lamar Jackson with Tyler Huntley. It was Huntley’s first career playoff start. Huntley had started multiple games during the regular season.
Including starting against the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular season. As most pay per head agents will tell you, regular season games aren’t the same as the NFL Playoffs.
The Ravens were about to go ahead 24-17 in the fourth quarter with a quarterback sneak, but Huntley was stopped by linebacker Logan Wilson just inches from the goal line. The football bounced out of Huntley’s hands to pass rusher Sam Hubbard, who returned it for a go-ahead score for the Bengals.
The Giants defeated the Vikings on the road. Boy, did we get this one wrong. We thought the Vikings had everything in their favor and couldn’t understand why the odds makers only gave them -3. Quarterback Daniel Jones not only surprised everyone in his first NFL playoff start, but he became the first quarterback in NFL postseason history to throw for more than 300 yards and 2+ touchdowns while rushing for more than 70 yards.
Jacksonville likes to do things the hard way. They were down 27-0 in the first half, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence throwing four interceptions. But he turned that around by throwing four touchdown passes to overcome the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30. The odds makers were close with this one, making the Chargers 1-point favorites.
No. 2 San Francisco 49ers vs. No. 5 Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys had no problem handling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dak Prescott arguably had his best game last weekend, but it was after one of his worst. He completed 25 of 33 passes for 305 yards with no turnovers. Before that, he threw 15 interceptions in 12 games to lead the NFL.
How will they do against the 49ers? San Fran hasn’t lost since October, putting away the Seattle Seahawks in their latest game. But they’ve had the easiest strength schedule this year. Rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has looked great but hasn’t gone up against any top teams. And after the way the Cowboys lost in last year’s postseason matchup, I’m sure they’re looking to even the score.
The 49ers are the favorites at -3.5, but Prescott has more to prove than Purdy. Which team heads to the Super Bowl?
No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs
If Lawrence can refrain from throwing interceptions, at least in the first half, the Jags might make this one close. But who are we kidding? They’re going up against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. The Jaguars defense will have to play their best game. Kansas City has an 8.5-point spread against Jacksonville.
No. 6 New York Giants vs. No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles
At first glance, this looks like an easy bet. The No. 1 seed is going against No. 6. But then we go a little deeper. The Eagles haven’t looked great in their last three games. They lost to the Cowboys 40-34 in Week 16 and the Saints 20-10 in Week 17. They barely beat the Giants in Week 18 to keep their No. 1 seed.
On the other hand, the Giants have been improving their game with their recent win against the Vikings. The odds makers have the Eagles at -7.5, but I wonder if that’s optimistic for Philadelphia. Will their bye be enough to shut down the momentum of the Giants?
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals vs. No. 2 Buffalo Bills
I’m betting this will be the most-watched game of the NFL playoffs, barring the Super Bowl. Emotions will run high for the players on each team, along with all the fans. If Damar Hamlin shows up, it will just add to it. To top it off, the teams are evenly matched as top seeds with a couple of the best quarterbacks the NFL has to offer.
Buffalo is the favorite by five points, but you have to wonder how much of that is a hangover from the beginning of the season when everyone anticipated Buffalo to win it all. Josh Allen has 16 interceptions and six fumbles this season, the most in the NFL.
Cincinnati has lost three starters in the last three weeks. That’s tough to work with after starting the same offensive line through the first 16 weeks. But here are a couple of stats that might balance things out:
- Cincinnati is 0-3 this season whenever Joe Burrow has been sacked five or more times
- The Bengals are 13-1 when Burrow is sacked less than five times
You can read a couple of things into that.
- How often Burrow gets sacked tells you the outcome of the game.
- Burrow rarely gets sacked five or more times.
Here’s one more to make you think. Burrow is 6-0 in his career for the month of January. Of course, Tom Brady was 7-0 against the Dallas Cowboys before this past weekend. I’m predicting a close game.
NFL Divisional Playoffs Preview
Whichever way the divisional round playoff games go, they should be even wilder than the Super Wild Card weekend. This means you’ll have your players frantically making all kinds of bets. If you’re not already on the best bookie software on the internet, sign up with PayPerHead before the first game this weekend.
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