Anthony’s Divisional Round Picks: Covering From Down Under

CeeDee LambChristian KirkChristian McCaffreyJalen HurtsJosh Allen

Opening Week is exciting. Super Bowl Sunday gives us closure. Wild Card Weekend gives us the largest spread of playoff games. Don’t get it twisted. The Divisional Round is the best weekend of the NFL season. Nowhere else does quality and quantity intersect just as well. This year, we get the best team in the AFC against the best story along with a divisional rivalry on Saturday. Sunday’s action includes a matchup between two historic franchises and two titans at quarterback. The only thing making these next two days more fun is winning money while enjoying it.

*All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise stated.*

Who will cover in Saturday’s games?

The first game of our NFL Divisional Round weekend happens to be the largest spread of the quartet. The Kansas City Chiefs are a well-oiled, well-rested machine; an offensive juggernaut waiting for a chance to entertain their home fans–the loudest in the sport.

Yet, there’s some pause for concern. Their defense is entirely average by EPA/Play, compared to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the AFC’s best defense since Week 14. Jacksonville’s incredible second half quieted the laundry list of complaints that preceded it, and have proved to the world that they can take down elite quarterbacks on the big stage.

The win probability charts may stay steadily in Chiefs colors for the duration of the game, but I expect this one to stay within single digits by triple zeroes. Patrick Mahomes is 7-4 against the spread in his playoff career, but the resilience of Trevor Lawrence has me optimistic. 

Will this be the week the Chiefs special teams unit comes back to bite them?

The Pick: Jaguars +9 (-110), Christian Kirk Over 62.5 Receiving Yards (-142)

Thanks to the New York Giants’ brand of football, the rivalry at hand, and the stakes of Saturday’s game, there’s a chance this one stays close. However, there may not be a larger talent differential in any match the rest of the season.

At every position except running back and maybe interior defensive line, the Philadelphia Eagles possess more talent. The birds are coached at least equally as well and possess the advantage at the almighty quarterback position, too. If you find yourself scrunching your brow at that final claim, take a moment to self-reflect and figure out the point in which you blurred the line between good and bad quarterbacks.

Few places are tougher to play than Philadelphia, and a week off this time of year can prove critical. There’s a reason the top seed in each conference has the best shot at the Super Bowl; they don’t lose to teams like the Giants when it counts. Think I’m wrong? Consider putting your money where your mouth is, and use Caesar’s unique promotion to prove me wrong: 100% UP TO $1,250 + 1,000 CREDITS.

Jalen Hurts will have New York’s linebackers in hell all night long. It’s just a matter of cooling down a hot offense, by any means necessary

The Pick: Eagles -7.5 (-110), Jalen Hurts To Score A Touchdown (-103)

What are the best bets for Sunday’s Divisional Round games?

I know the Cincinnati Bengals did not play their best last weekend. It took an improbable failed dunk attempt-turned big man touchdown for Cincinnati to beat a Baltimore team led by a backup quarterback.

Joe Burrow is surprisingly average come playoff time, having been bailed out by his defense multiple times in his young career. He’ll face Josh Allen, whose playoff prowess was most recently stunted by a now-defunct rule.

Still, I’m not confident in the Buffalo Bills. I think the talent gap the consensus has talked about in the trenches is overstated. Burrow’s improvements, along with Zac Taylor’s adjustments, have rendered the quick game reliable enough to counter lackluster offensive line play. The Bengals still have a surplus of weapons at their disposal, too. 

Buffalo, on the other hand, isn’t exactly surging in the target department. Aside from Stefon Diggs, no Bills offensive player scares you. Allen is still their best threat on the ground and I don’t anticipate the run game looking particularly good anyway. Cincinnati might have the best roster in the conference. Don’t forget, they’ve won nine consecutive (finished) games, including wins against Mahomes and some guy referred to as the GOAT.

Even the discourse angle points in Cincinnati’s favor. A win Sunday gives Bengals fans even more ammo to declare Burrow better than your favorite quarterback. Hopefully they just get away with the cover.

The Pick: Bengals +5.5 (-110), Josh Allen Over 7.5 Rushing Attempts (-139)

From every angle, this weekend’s finale between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers is shaping up to be a classic. Dak Prescott has temporarily staved off the toxic narrative that follows him, only to face rookie quarterback and media wonderkid, Brock Purdy.

We are lucky to watch Kyle Shanahan’s toolbox of concepts and stars against perhaps the league’s most dynamic defense. Its inverse, an explosive Cowboys offense against the league’s best defense, will be a treat, too.

America will be watching. Few, if any pairs of teams can boast to have as many combined fans as Dallas and San Francisco. Just as “That 70’s Show” gets a reboot, this NFC rivalry gets one, too. After facing off in last year’s Wild Card round, the series moves west.

There are reasons to fade Dallas. Their reputation precedes them. Their kicker just had the worst game of his life. They will almost certainly get out-coached. If that wasn’t enough, they are also dealing with a cross-country trip and two fewer days of rest.

Part of me is surprised the spread is not greater. The part writing this article, though, is rolling with America’s team. The 49ers have a ton of advantages this weekend, but quarterback isn’t one of them. In fact, the gap is substantial. I think that means something come Sunday.

The Pick: Cowboys +4 (-110), CeeDee Lamb AND Christian McCaffrey To Score (+250)

BASIC TIPS

This article largely features against the spread (ATS) bets, where a spread is determined. The favorite, say, Bills -5.5, must win by six or more points. The underdog, Bengals +5.5, must avoid losing by six. These will typically hover around -110 odds, meaning you’d need to place a $110 bet to win $100. These can be parlayed, or added to other bets, for more lucrative odds, though one would need each pick to hit in order to win.