NFL Betting Predictions for 2018 NFC Divisional Round
It was an interesting Wild-Card Weekend in the NFL as both underdogs on Saturday, Tennessee and Atlanta, winning on the road. Sunday was chalk with both home favorites, Jacksonville and New Orleans, winning. Here’s a NFL betting prediction at the divisional round with a focus on the NFC. This writer will have individual game previews of the AFC games later this week.
NFL Betting Predictions for 2018 NFC Divisional Round
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— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) January 8, 2018
Next For Falcons: At Eagles
No team has reached the Super Bowl a year after losing the game since those Buffalo Bills teams lost four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s. The Atlanta Falcons, though, are now two wins from that accomplishment after their 26-13 win at the NFC West champion Rams on Saturday night.
Julio Jones scored the game’s final touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ win. Jones gained 1,444 receiving yards during the 2017 regular season, but he scored only one red-zone touchdown. The only players who have ever had as many yards receiving and as few red-zone TD catches in a season were Victor Cruz (1536 yards, 1 RZ-TD in 2011), Josh Gordon (1646, 1 in 2013), and Antonio Brown (1499, 1 in 2013.)
Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. That’s a 101.8 passer rating. Ryan’s rating has now reached triple digits in each of his last five postseason games. That ties Joe Flacco (Jan. 2013 – Jan. 2015) for the longest streak by any player in the last 10 years.
Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 29, 51, 25, and 54 yards without a miss. Bryant, who was 42 years, 222 days old on Saturday, is the oldest kicker to go 4-for-4 or better in a postseason game. The only other player to do that after his 38th birthday is Adam Vinatieri, who was perfect on four attempts for the Colts against the Bengals on Jan. 4, 2015 at the age of 42 years, 7 days.
What Can We Expect for Saturday’s
As the No. 6 seed, Atlanta now goes to No. 1 Philadelphia on Saturday as an opening 2.5-point favorite, which is historic (see below). The Eagles might be the weakest top seed in years because they lost superstar quarterback Carson Wentz to a season-ending ACL injury in a Week 14 win at the Rams. The Eagles’ offensive scoring output dropped by almost half in the three games backup Nick Foles has started — from 28.3 points to 15.7 points per game.
The Falcons and Eagles last played in Week 10 last year in Philly, a 24-15 Eagles win. Ryan Mathews ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He’s no longer with the Eagles. Wentz threw for 231 yards. Caleb Sturgis, also no longer with Philly, made three field goals, including a clutch kick from 48 yards to seal the win late. Jones had 10 catches for 135 yards to lead the Falcons. They settled for field goals of 38, 43 and 46 yards by Bryant before Ryan connected with Taylor Gabriel early in the fourth on a 76-yard TD pass to give Atlanta a 15-13 lead.
Next For Saints: At Vikings
The Sunday NFC divisional round game is NFC South champion New Orleans at NFC North winner Minnesota, which is -4. The Saints beat the Carolina Panthers for a third time this season on Sunday, 31-26. New Orleans has a stellar running back duo of Mark Ingram and likely NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara. The struggled vs. the Panthers but were the first tandem ever to both surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season as well as the first pair of running back teammates selected to the Pro Bowl together in at least 42 years. Kamara led the NFL with 6.1 yards per carry this season — and his 7.7 yards per offensive touch are the most in NFL history of any player with at least 200 touches in a season.
They will face the NFL’s top-rated Vikings defense. No team in the NFL this season allowed fewer points or yards than Minnesota. The Vikings were second in the league in both rushing and passing yards allowed, so there’s not one way to attack them that’s better than another. Safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes were just named First-Team All-Pros, while end Everson Griffen was a Second-Team All-Pro. The Vikings gave up a conversion on only 25% of their third downs this season.
Are the Saints a Safe NFL Betting Pick in the Divisional Round?
New Orleans’ season could end where it started: U.S. Bank Stadium, also the site of this year’s Super Bowl. In Week 1, the Saints lost at the Vikings 29-19. Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three scores. Stefon Diggs had seven receptions for 93 yards, two for scores and all in the first half, and Adam Thielen racked up 157 yards on nine catches.
A lot has changed since then, though. For one, the Saints looked awful the first two weeks of the season but are way better now. Two, Bradford is no longer the Vikings’ starting QB. He was injured in that game and only played half of one game since. Case Keenum has taken his job. Bradford underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Nov. 7 as a final effort to remedy the pain and swelling he was experiencing. In addition, the Vikings had rookie running back Dalvin Cook then, but he’s out for the season now. Cook had 127 yards on 22 carries vs. the Saints. New Orleans’ co-leading rusher that Monday night was Adrian Peterson and he’s not with the team these days.
Expert Prediction & NFL Betting Picks for the NFC Divisional Round
Atlanta is actually a slight favorite, which tells you that oddsmakers don’t much trust Foles. Philadelphia is the first No. 1 seed ever to be an underdog against a No. 6 seed. I see the Eagles winning by a field goal, however. New Orleans upsets Minnesota.