Jimmy McGinty previews the NFL Divisional Playoff action with bets starting on Saturday with the Chiefs and the Rams.
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Everyone is high on the Colts after watching them deliver with relative ease when they needed to over the past two weeks. Their strong OL was the perfect foil to the Texans strength up front. The Texans were also a drastically overrated side. Prior to that they faced limited offenses such as Tennessee and NYG. In fact, the Colts have had the easiest schedule in the NFL over the past 10wks. They’re going to come crashing down this week when they face an elite offense, at home, off a bye.
The Colts have been bad against the pass, despite not facing many top sides. Patrick Mahomes, Hill, Kelce etc. will rack up the yards. Kelce in particular should have a big outing – the Colts are awful versus tight-ends.
Saying all that, the Chiefs defense is miserable enough. Marlon Mack will run all over them but only if the Colts don’t fall too far behind. The spread is 5.5pts. Despite the Chiefs owning a terrible defense all season they covered that margin in 9 of their 12 wins! The 4 losses came against other playoff sides – they took care of weak sides with ease. The Colts are good but aren’t special. Mahomes will shred them.
1pt KC Chiefs -5.5pts
2pts KC Chiefs total over 31pts – 19/20 Betway
Dallas Cowboys at LA Rams
There is a coaching mismatch here and the superior coach has had an extra week to plan. Sean McVay’s side faces a really strong Cowboys defense but he’ll be able to scheme around it.
The Cowboys, at home, limped past Seattle last week. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the two weakest teams in the playoffs. Seattle’s run heavy approach was ideal for Dallas. Now facing the dynamic Rams offense this limited Cowboys side will get shown-up.
Defensively the Rams aren’t great against the run so Zeke could have a big outing but hopefully the favourites start well and force Dallas to move away from the run. Amari Cooper is the other key piece for the Cowboys – Rams will hope Aqib Talib will hold him relatively well. Cole Beasley, not practicing all week, is a big loss if he’s out. If the Rams get going early and get a decent lead I think they could get home comfortably enough.
2pts LA Rams -7pts 10/11
1pt LA Rams 7-12pts winning margin 9/2 SkyBet (generally 4s)
LA Chargers at NE Patriots
I said last week that the Chargers are the only side I’d fancy to go into New England or Kansas City and get a result once they could get over Baltimore. They did that with ease and I’m not deserting them now. A side who are 12-2 in their last 14 games (one loss by 1pt and the other one avenged last wknd) are quite possibly the best team in the League. Seriously, don’t let the 5th seed thing distract you, the Chargers are legit.
The Patriots finished with a similar 11-5 record but faced a simple schedule. Jets, Bills and Dolphins all twice were easy affairs obviously but even the perceived better teams Steelers, Packers & Vikings were miserable when it mattered. Note they lost to Lions, Dolphins, Titans – bad sides. Major weaknesses in this Patriots side may not yet have been fully exposed – the Chargers with loads of attacking options can do that.
Hunter Henry might return in a good match-up as the Patriots are poor in coverage in the middle of the field (similarly Austin Ekeler might have a big outing too). The Patriots are weak against the run which is ideal for the Chargers here as Stephen Gilmore will limit Keenan Allen so establishing the run, especially in the cold weather, may suit.
On the other side of the ball - The Chargers are good against the run so Brady will need to deliver. Desmond King will match-up against Edelman which straight up is a big match-up positive for LAC. The Patriots, lacking receiving talent, rely on Edelman but he faces a talented corner here. Oh and Brady will be under constant pressure (Bosa & Ingram are quality) to make it worse. The Chargers have injury issues at line-backer so I’d be amazing if James White doesn’t have a big receiving day coming out of the backfield.
The Chargers have been terrific on the road all season, 7-1 regular season and winning in Baltimore last weekend. Having no homefield advantage helps I guess! Going into Foxboro won’t faze them like it would others.
3pts LA Chargers +4pts 20/21 Paddy Power
1pt Chargers moneyline 7/4
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
Recent playoff experience may have helped the Eagles last week when facing playoff debutants Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky. No such advantage when you’ve to go to New Orleans to face Brees & Payton.
Last week the Eagles had a perfect matchup as their strong run defense faced a run heavy Bears side and the Eagles weak secondary wasn’t strongly tested by the average-at-best Trubisky. Different story 7 days on. Brees and co will shred this Eagles secondary. The Eagles defensive line wasn’t effective last week which must be a worry as Brees with time is lethal.
Nick Foles has recently had a higher passer rating under pressure than in a clean pocket. ‘Foles magic’ can’t sustain that. Regression is coming. If they get behind to the high scoring Saints and Foles is really forced to chase the game this could be ugly. Last year when Foles led his side all the way he had a strong running game to lean on. That’s not there this year and it won’t be rediscovered against the league leading run defense in New Orleans.
Alshon Jeffery has been the go-to guy for Philly of late but he’ll be locked down by Marshon Lattimore here. The Eagles are very bad against receiving running backs – Alvin Kamara is the best there is. There’s so much in this matchup that points towards the Saints blowing out the Eagles.
2pts NO Saints -8pts 10/11
1pt NO Saints 31-40pts winning margin 11/1 – Paddy Power
1pt fourfold – Saints, Chiefs, Rams, Chargers – best price 5.9/1 Betfair Sportsbook