Will Underdogs Bark in the NFL Playoffs Divisional Round?

NFL Jan 20, 2023

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round: Will the Underdogs Bark or Bite their Backers?

We're down to the final eight contenders. The NFL divisional round gets played this weekend, with two games each day on Saturday and Sunday.

Historically, the top-seeded teams coming off a bye week have dominated, since they enjoy the home-field advantage, extra prep time, and the luxury of playing the lowest-seeded opponents. These advantages will clearly favour both Kansas City and Philadelphia.

The big question is, will the Chiefs and Eagles cover high pointspreads? Moreover, what about the generous number of points being given to Cincinnati and Dallas in the other two games? Are those two live underdogs worth taking?

Here's our breakdown of all four playoff games:



Sat: 4:30 ET / 1:30 PT -- JAX at KC (Chiefs -8.5 / Total - 53)

No team is a bigger shock than the Jaguars. They were 150-1 to win the Super Bowl, and now are just three victories in a row away from the impossible dream. The Jaguars have won six consecutive games and also won 8 of the 13 games in which they were underdogs this season. However, these two teams are in completely different classes, both in talent and experience. In the Patrick Mahomes era, KC is 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS at home in the playoffs and 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in the Divisional and Wild Card rounds, covering the spread by an average margin of 6.9 points. Our Pick: Chiefs

Sat: 8:15 ET / 5:15 PT -- NYG at PHI (Eagles -7.5 / Total - 48)

The other surprise team is the Giants, who were 100-1 to win the Super Bowl according to preseason odds. The Giants were the best team in the NFL against the spread this season, covering 14 of 18 games. That includes an 11-2 record as underdogs. It's also worth noting the UNDER is 33-16-1 in all Giants' games since 2020, the most profitable team to the UNDER. Meanwhile, the Eagles went 14-3 SU this season and won 14 of 15 games started by QB Jalen Hurts. Philadephia also dominated NYG in both games this season. The Eagles likely win this game, but covering more than a TD will be far tougher. Our Pick: Giants

Sun: 3:00 ET / Noon PT -- CIN at BUF (Bills -5.5 / Total - 48.5)

The Bengals look like a solid underdog bet. Cincinnati has won its last nine games (12-3 ATS in their last 15, and 20-5 ATS in their last 25 games). Betting markets continue to underestimate the Bengals. The question is -- injuries. Cincy is banged up. Their fate could depend on if they can field a healthy team and slow down the Bills, who enjoy a decisive home-field advantage. Buffalo won their last eight games, scoring 32-35-35-34 in the last four. However, Buffalo is just 3-7-1 ATS since their bye week. Our Pick: Bengals

Sun: 6:30 ET / 3:30 PT -- DAL at SFO (49ers -4 / Total - 46)

The Cowboys are notorious for playoff collapses, but they did shake the stigma of losing by winning last weekend. Now, the competition gets much tougher. San Francisco won its last 11 games (9-2 ATS). The 49ers are also 9-1 ATS as a home favorite this season. The biggest surprise has been QB Brock Purdy, who is playing like the reincarnation of Montana and Young. He's a perfect 6-0 in games started and has thrown 2+ TD passes in each game. This is an intriguing matchup because you never know which Dallas team might show up. This is a very tough game to predict. Our Pick: Flip a coin. Since the Dallas kicker missed four XPs last week, we'll take SFO.