NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions: Best Picks Against the Spread

Payton Matthews | Updated Jan 11, 2021

bucs vs saints 2021

Divisional Weekend is the last week this NFL season that features games on Saturday as there are two that day and two Sunday – one AFC matchup and one NFC each day.

Here’s a quick look at all of them with Sports Interaction’s NFL odds. Check back for individual game previews.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers, Saturday

The Rams were 3-point underdogs last Saturday at NFC West rival Seattle and weren’t able to start usual starting quarterback Jared Goff due to thumb surgery. Then, John Wolford went down with an injury and Goff was forced into action. He did just enough to lead Los Angeles to the 30-20 upset. The defence and the running of rookie Cam Akers were the big stories as Seattle was held to just 278 yards and 11 first downs, while Akers had 131 yards rushing and a TD on 28 carries. It’s not yet clear whether it will be Goff or Wolford starting here – we’d guess Goff. Top receiver Cooper Kupp and superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald both left vs. Seattle due to injury and didn’t return. Coach Sean McVay is optimistic on both for this week.

Green Bay had the NFC’s lone bye last week. In no surprise, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is likely to win a third NFL MVP Award, and wideout Davante Adams were both named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. Rodgers led the NFL in QB rating (121.5) and TD passes (48), while Adams led in TD catches (18) despite missing two games. The Packers didn’t play the Rams this season. The teams last met in 2018, a Rams 29-27 home victory. If Green Bay wins here, it hosts the NFC title game regardless of the other NFC result on Sunday.

Point spread: Packers -7.5

Pick ATS: Green Bay (alternate line of -7)

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills, Saturday

The winner here would go to Kansas City for the AFC title game if the Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. No teams are playing better than these two. Baltimore was a 3.5-point favourite at Tennessee on Sunday and won its sixth straight game, 20-13. The ground attack has been the key behind the Ravens’ surge, and they rushed for 236 yards on 35 carries Sunday. QB Lamar Jackson led with 136 yards and a TD on 16 carries in getting his first career playoff victory in his third try. Baltimore snapped a string of 21 straight games lost by the franchise in either the regular season or playoffs when trailing by 10 or more points. It should be noted that the biggest weakness of the Buffalo defence is against the run.

The Bills won their seventh straight game Saturday, 27-24 over Indianapolis – although Buffalo nearly blew a 24-10 fourth-quarter lead in its first playoff victory in 25 years. Josh Allen threw for 324 yards and two scores and led the team with 54 yards rushing and a TD. The Colts were able to rush for 163 yards and a score, so that’s the run defence we are talking about. Baltimore and Buffalo didn’t play this season. They did in Week 14 last year and the Ravens were 24-17 road victors.

Point spread: Bills -2.5

Pick ATS: Baltimore

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday

Despite playing without head coach Kevin Stefanski, who calls offensive plays, a few other assistant coaches and a handful of players on the COVID-19 list, the Browns were shocking 48-37 winners in Pittsburgh on Sunday night, the franchise’s first playoff win since following the 1994 season. Oh, and Cleveland was able to practice just once in full last week because the facility was shut down. It remains to be seen if Stefanski, etc., can return this week but if they didn’t test positive, they should. If Cleveland wins here, it goes to either Buffalo or Baltimore for the AFC title game.

Kansas City would host the AFC title game with a win as the Chiefs are the top seed in the conference and were on the bye last week. They should be about as healthy as possible, if not a bit rusty, as nearly every key starter also sat Week 17. These teams last played Week 9 of the 2018 season, with Kansas City winning 37-21 in Cleveland.

Point spread: Chiefs -10

Pick ATS: Cleveland (alternate line of +10.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints, Sunday

The winner of this game would visit Green Bay if the Packers win Saturday; if Green Bay loses to the Rams, the winner here would host the NFC title game. Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium is the host of Super Bowl 55. This surely will be the last meeting between all-time great quarterbacks Tom Brady of the Bucs and Drew Brees of the Saints. Brady will be playing next season, but Brees is all but a lock to retire.

New Orleans had little trouble Sunday in a 21-9 win over Chicago with star running back Alvin Kamara returning from the COVID list and top receiver Michael Thomas back off injured reserve. Both had a touchdown. Tampa Bay was pushed Saturday night at Washington but won 31-23. Brady threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns in his 42nd career playoff start and 31st win. The Saints won both meetings with Tampa Bay during the regular season.

Point spread: Saints -3

Pick ATS: Bucs (alternate line of +3.5)