Divisional Round Picks
Favorites should all advance, underdogs likely to cover.
Last week, I was 3-3 picking outright winners and 3-2 picking winners against the spread. Now come my Divisional Round picks.
Patrick Mahomes goes on the road in the playoffs for the first time ever. We know he can deal with pressure. He’s won Super Bowls on neutral sites. He’s won road games against elite teams. Interestingly, though, he has only played at Bills Stadium once, which was a 26-17 Chiefs win in 2020, the first ever matchup between him and Josh Allen.
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I believe the Bills have a higher upside than the Chiefs, and if they play their A-game (an if, to be sure), they cannot lose. The Chiefs are consistently playing “meh, pretty good” football this season, but they rarely step up to beat a great team that is playing great.
If I am right and Allen ends up beating Mahomes, then people will push the narrative that Mahomes can’t win on the road in the playoffs! That’s silly. This is one game, and the Bills have the more talented team this year. The chances of either side are almost like a coin flip (sorry, Bills fans!).
The Texans at Ravens game is another interesting one. My numbers based on team rankings show the Texans should be closer to the Ravens in terms of talent than the Packers are to the Niners. My first instinct was to pick the Texans to keep it within the 9.5-point spread. But upon analysis, I decided Stroud should have a down game against the Ravens defense, one of the toughest he’s faced all season. The Texans faced an easy schedule, especially down the stretch.
In fact, Stroud has only faced three top-ten pass defenses all season, and his passing yards in those games are down almost half of what he throws for against bottom 20 defenses.
I included my detailed explanation in my longer piece for RotoBaller: Free NFL Betting Picks for the Divisional Round - Best Bets, Expert Odds and Predictions