NFL Playoff Odds, Picks, Predictions: Expert Likes Bengals-Chiefs Over/Under, 49ers-Rams Spread For Sunday
Getty Images. Pictured: 49ers WR Deebo Samuel, Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
Bengals-Chiefs Odds, Pick
|Time||3 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Find real-time NFL playoff odds here.|
Similar to last week’s Bills-Chiefs game, neither the Bengals nor the Chiefs have any chance of slowing down the opposing offense. These two played in the regular season with both teams putting up a combined 65 points on nearly 900 total yards. The Bengals put up 7.5 yards per play, while the Chiefs put up 7.1 yards per play.
If there’s anything that stands out about the first matchup, it’s that despite the game flying over the total of 51, the Chiefs scored just three second-half points — something I’m 100% confident won’t happen again on Sunday.
Despite the talks of improvement from this Chiefs defense, I’m really not buying it. Since Week 8 of the regular season, they’ve played the Giants, Raiders (twice), Cowboys (post-Dak Prescott injury), Broncos (twice; once with Drew Lock at QB), Chargers, Steelers, Bengals and Packers (without Aaron Rodgers). The Raiders, Broncos, Steelers and Bengals are 20th, 13th, 27th and 19th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, respectively. And while the Cowboys were sixth in offensive DVOA, their offense wasn’t the same after Prescott returned from injury. So outside of Prescott and Joe Burrow, none of those quarterbacks were in the top 10 in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play, and it’s no surprise Burrow carved Kansas City up for the most yardage the Chiefs have given up this year.
The Bengals have been fifth in EPA/play and third in Success Rate since Week 11 given the stellar play of Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. They’ve scored 32, 41, 22, 23, 41, 34 and 26 against the Raiders, Steelers, Chargers, Ravens, Chiefs and Raiders, respectively, during that span.
Nonetheless, I expect another solid offensive performance this weekend.
The Bengals are just 19th in defensive DVOA and 24th against the pass despite facing the 14th-ranked schedule of opposing offenses. This Bengals team gave up 34 points to the Jets, 41 points to the Browns and 41 points to the Chargers. In their wild-card game against the Raiders, the Bengals allowed five trips to the red zone.
In last week’s Divisional Round win, the Titans got whatever they wanted through the air, throwing for 8.5 yards per pass and 6.8 yards per play. But Ryan Tannehill’s three interceptions and the turnover on downs killed drives, surpassing their offensive output.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will likely have no problems scoring Sunday. I played the over 53.5 earlier this week (be sure to follow me in the Action App to keep up with all of my picks), but I’d still play the over to 55.
Pick: Over 54.5 (play to 55)
49ers-Rams Odds, Pick
|Time||6:40 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Find real-time NFL playoff odds here.|
One of the most common narratives you’ll likely hear this weekend is that it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season.
Despite this being conventional wisdom to many people, it’s simply not true.
Since the 1970 merger, there have been 22 instances in which an NFL team has swept its divisional foe in the regular season only to meet again in the postseason. The team that swept the regular-season matchups is 14-8 in those postseason meetings. Getting more granular, in four of those instances, the road team in that postseason meeting has completed the sweep.
The 49ers will be facing the Rams for the third time this season after winning the first two matchups. San Francisco has dominated Los Angeles in the Kyle Shanahan vs. Sean McVay era as the Niners are 7-3 against the Rams since 2017, winning the last six matchups with the last four victories coming as underdogs.
If the 49ers don’t already have an edge based on their previous dominance of the Rams, San Francisco will also have an extra day following its Divisional Round game last Saturday (Los Angeles played last Sunday).
Under Shanahan, the 49ers have thrived as underdogs with a 25-17 (60%) record against the spread (ATS), per our Action Labs data. It’s a role they’re very familiar with as they’re coming off three straight wins as underdogs after needing to win on the road at the Rams in Week 18 to make the playoffs before defeating the Cowboys in Dallas and the Packers in Green Bay to advance to their second NFC Championship Game in the last three seasons.
Trends aside, this is an ideal matchup for the 49ers given their ability to dominate in the run game and neutralize a Rams pass rush with Aaron Donald and Von Miller that ranks first in ESPN’s pass rush win rate and third in sacks (50). In their first two matchups of the season, the 49ers rushed for 156 yards and 135 yards on the ground. And in the second matchup, they controlled the time of possession for much of the second half.
Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel should generate yardage on the ground against this weak Rams linebacking unit while opening the offense for Jimmy Garoppolo and a 49ers passing game that should find some success against a Rams defense that struggles to defend the middle of the field.
While much will be made of Garoppolo’s struggles against the Packers in frozen temperatures, he’s had plenty of success against this Rams team. In the two previous meetings this season, he completed 38-of-51 attempts for 498 yards and three touchdowns. He led the 83-yard touchdown drive to send the Week 18 matchup to overtime, where he also led the game-winning drive to get the 49ers into the playoffs.
Nonetheless, I have faith in a 49ers offense that has out-gained the Rams in yards per play in both matchups this season.
Matthew Stafford struggled to close out the regular season, throwing eight interceptions and fumbling once in the final four games. Since the postseason started, he’s looked completely rejuvenated, completing 74.5% of his passes for 568 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers. That said, Stafford will face a much tougher matchup against Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Fred Warner and a 49ers defense that can generate pressure without blitzing.
Stafford has destroyed the blitz this season, just as he did last week against the Bucs, hitting Cooper Kupp with the game on the line. But it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the 49ers take a similar approach here — they pressured Stafford 15 times and sacked him five times in their 27-24 win in Week 18. With Rams LT Andrew Whitworth still banged up, their offensive line could have a long day.
The 49ers have had the Rams number, and I don’t see it changing here. I’ll back the 49ers at +3.5 and take them on the moneyline as well.
Pick: 49ers +3.5 (down to +3); ML +165
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