Saturday final scores
The first day of the divisional round is a wrap. We opened with the Kansas City Chiefs rolling the Indianapolis Colts to advance to the AFC title game. The Chiefs jumped out to a 17-0 lead and looked ready to roll. The Colts blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-7 and seeming to swing the momentum. The Chiefs responded with a touchdown and then the Colts missed a field goal to close out the half. It was a bad omen. They shut down the Chiefs offense for much of the second half, but just could not consistently moved the ball and eventually lose 31-13. The Chiefs host the winner of Sunday’s matchup between the Chargers and Patriots.
The second game of the day saw the Los Angeles Rams hold off the Dallas Cowboys late. Dallas fought the Rams close in the first and fourth quarters, but the Rams ground game dominated in the second and third quarter and built a lead the Cowboys could not come back against. The Rams won 30-22 and will face the winner of Eagles-Saints in the NFC title game.
The 2019 NFL playoffs continue on Saturday with the division round getting underway. Divisional round football is usually the best weekend of the playoffs. You get the top two teams in each conference back in action, and we often get more competitive action.
Last weekend’s wild card matchups brought three road upsets and a narrow win for the fourth home team. The Colts, Chargers, and Eagles all went on the road and sprung upsets, while the Cowboys beat the Seahawks by two points. Underdogs are 14-1 ATS in the last 15 playoff games, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for upsets. I ended up going 1-3 against the spread, missing out on .500 thanks to Sebastian Janikowski injuring his hamstring.
The Chiefs host the Colts to open the divisional weekend. Patrick Mahomes is the favorite to take home the MVP award at the NFL Honors program the night before the Super Bowl, but he faces a tough test this weekend. The Chiefs are five point favorites, but it’s worth noting that dating back to 2013, quarterbacks making their first career playoff start at 4-10-1 against the spread and 4-11 straight up. The first time starter on a favored team is 3-3 straight up, but still just 1-5 against the spread. The Chiefs offense is better than the Colts, but the Colts defense is significantly better than the Chiefs. I’m going to take the points, and am still considering a moneyline wager.
The second game on Saturday features the Rams hosting the Cowboys. Dallas is a seven point underdog, and the public money is coming in on Dak & Co. They finished the season fairly well while the Rams stumbled a bit. LA’s defense has not lived up to its preseason billing, but is still middle of the pack and has Aaron Donald. On offense, they’ll have Todd Gurley back. The public has done well thus far, but I see the Cowboys running into a wall in this one. I’m going to lay the points with LA.
On Sunday, the Chargers look to continue their strong run as they head east again to face the Patriots. New England is a four point favorite, with the largest percentage of public money on LA. It brought the spread down from five to four, and continues to come in. Normally sportsbooks are rooting against New England, but that’s not going to be the case this weekend. And I’m sticking with the public on this one. The Chargers have been more efficient both on offense and on defense. Road games are never easy, but I think we see them give the Patriots a rough time at Foxboro. An upset would not be shocking, but they’ll at least cover.
The weekend wraps up with the Saints hosting the always dangerous Nick Foles-led Eagles. This game brings the biggest spread of the weekend, with the Saints sitting at -8. A majority of the public is riding the Eagles once again, which brought the line down a point to a point and a half, depending on your sportsbook of choice. The Saints are the very clearly better team, but the Eagles remaining perpetually scary. I think I have to buy into the narrative and take the points.
All times PT
NFL Divisional Round
Saturday, January 12
Sunday, January 13
Sunday, January 20
NFC: FOX, 12:05 p.m.
AFC: CBS, 3:40 p.m.
Super Bowl 52
Sunday, February 3
NFC champion versus AFC champion, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (CBS, 3:30 p.m.)