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January 22, 2022

Divisional round NFL playoff picks

Eagles NFL
012222PatrickMahomesJoshAllen Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes vs. Josh Allen feels like the next great NFL quarterback rivalry.

For the gambling enthusiasts, here are my divisional round NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread — with all divisional round lines coming via Sidelines.io.

Bengalslogo2020

Bengals at Titans (-3.5): The intrigue of this game is centered around Derrick Henry's return to the field after missing the final nine games of the regular season. Understandably, many are looking at that like, "Uh oh, a fresh Derrick Henry late in the season is trouble!" 

And I do agree with that sentiment, however, I think it's also worth pointing out that Henry has gotten out to slow-ish starts in the first game of the season each year, and his tendency is to start dominating once he has a game or two under his belt. A look at each of his Week 1 numbers from when he became the focal point of Tennessee's run game in 2018, until now.

Year, Week 1 opponent Rushes Yards YPC TD 
2018, at Dolphins 10 26 2.6 
2019, at Browns 19 84 4.4 
2020, at Broncos 31 116 3.7 
2021, Cardinals 17 58 3.4 
TOTAL 77 284 3.7 


Defensively, I like the Bengals' chances of at least slowing Henry down. Offensively, Joe Burrow and Cincinnati's young, fun offense is rolling.

051020PackersLogo2020

49ers at Packers (-5.5): If you'll recall in the 2019 NFC Championship Game, the Niners ran for 285 yards, while Jimmy Garoppolo only attempted 8 passes. The Packers simply got steamrolled all day, and couldn't do anything about it. In 2021, their run defense remains a concern, as they allowed 4.7 yards per carry during the regular season, which was third-worst in the NFL.

The Niners have an efficient run game, paired with guys like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle making plays after they have the ball in their hands in the passing game. It's an offense that should be super easy for any reasonably competent quarterback to execute against a shaky Packers defense.

I love this matchup for the 49ers, except for the part where Garoppolo stinks, and the Packers are undefeated at home.


MORE: Eagles stay or go: Jonathan GannonWTS: Gannon the 'front-runner' for Texans job. Should he be? Who would replace him? | Previewing the Eagles' next calendar year, in stick figure form


051020BuccaneersLogo2020

Rams at Buccaneers (-2.5): I'm taking the Bucs in this game, because, well, Tom Brady has 35 career playoff wins, and Matthew Stafford has one. Stafford also looked like one quarterback during the first half-ish of the regular season, and a completely different one down the stretch:

 Matthew
Stafford
Comp-Att
(Comp %) 
Yards
(YPA) 
TD-INT Rating 
First 8 games 188-273 (68.9%) 2477 (9.1) 22-4 118.0 
Last 9 games 216-328 (65.9%) 2409 (7.3) 19-13 90.4 


In the wild card round, Stafford's numbers were excellent in a game in which he only attempted 17 passes against the no-show Cardinals. That's a step in the right direction, but not enough to sell me that he's back to his early season form.

My HUGE concern for the Bucs is that center Ryan Jensen and RT Tristan Wirfs are both questionable with ankle injuries. If they can't go, the Bucs' offensive line will be vulnerable against Aaron Donald and Von Miller.

It looks like Jensen will be a go, but I can't imagine Wirfs returns in time for Sunday. Here's what he looked like last Sunday against Ryan Kerrigan:

And here's what he looked like in practice on Friday:

Kerrigan dominated Wirfs' backup, Josh Wells. What's Miller going to do to him?

Still, Brady will find a way against a Rams defense missing both starting safeties.

090920ChiefsLogo2020

Bills at Chiefs (-1.5): The Bills have the misfortune of facing the Chiefs at Arrowhead as a result of the Titans earning the 1 seed in the AFC. It's too bad that one of these two teams will be eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs, because they might be the two best teams in the NFL right now.

These two teams met Week 5, when the Bills smoked the Chiefs in Kansas City, at a time when the Chiefs looked nothing like a team that had just gone to two straight Super Bowls. They have since regained their championship form, so I wouldn't put too much stock in that game, other than maybe a little confidence on the Bills' side that they now know they can win there.

I think the winner of this game will win the Super Bowl. I'm just going to watch and enjoy.


• Picks against the spread: Bengals (+3.5), Buccaneers (-2.5).

• Eagles picks: 13-5

• 2021 season, straight up: 175-102-1 (0.631)
• 2021 season, ATS: 43-39-1 (0.524)
• 2020 season, straight up: 169-81-1 (0.675)
• 2020 season, ATS: 45-37-3 (0.547)
• 2019 season, straight up: 160-107-1 (0.601)
• 2019 season, ATS: 42-35-3 (0.544)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS:  41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

• Last 7 years, ATS: 294-243-13 (0.546)

Some links provided in this content are sponsored by Sidelines.io, a PhillyVoice.com Sports Betting Partner, independently created by PhillyVoice. 21+ Please gamble responsibly.


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