Nfl divisional picks

NFL Divisional Round Expert Picks, Best Bets Against the Spread

One of the best sports weekends of the year is upon us, as we have our four NFL Divisional Round matchups. Below are our experts picking the games against the spread this season, along with each of their picks against the spread and best bets for this weekend’s slate.

Season Standings
Meyer: 128-109-8
Gramling: 124-113-8
Traina: 119-118-8

BEST BETS

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers: Under 47 Points

I assume this number is sitting unreasonably high because of the name-brand quarterbacks. However, the Packers have undoubtedly taken on an identity of a defense-first team, and they’ll probably be happy to lean on their rushing attack against a Seattle defense that’s known primarily for the lack of a pass rush, but was quietly terrible against the run as well. The Seahawks also remain one of the NFL’s last true run-first offenses, and are in the middle of their annual late-season offensive slump (21 points or fewer in four of the past five games).

For their part, the Packers topped 24 points once in the second half of the regular season. Neither Aaron Rodgers nor Russell Wilson put the ball in danger, so you’re unlikely to get any cheap, short fields. Throw in the cold weather, and this one is shaping up to be a slog. —Gary Gramling

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens: Over 47 Points

Yes, the Titans shut down the Patriots last week, but the Ravens are not the old, talent-deprived Patriots. You can be sure Tennessee will allow more than 13 points this week. The Ravens led the NFL in scoring this season with 33.2 points per game. The Titans weren’t too shabby themselves, putting up 25.1 points per game. Tennessee’s offense, though, really took off after Ryan Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota. Yes, you’re going to get a lot of Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry running the ball, which means the clock will be moving constantly in this game, but that won’t slow down what will take place on the scoreboard.—Jimmy Traina

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-7)

The Vikings needed a perfect gameplan, signature performance from Kirk Cousins and a lackluster Drew Brees game (at least through three quarters) just to escape in overtime against the Saints. Now Minnesota has a West Coast game just six days after a road game in New Orleans. The Vikings are pretty banged up too, with star wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen the most notable names on this week’s injury report.

I expect Kyle Shanahan to attack the Vikings’ biggest weakness, its secondary, on defense more than Sean Payton did—and after watching Drew Brees’s deep ball, I understand why. It is Jimmy Garoppolo’s first playoff game, which scares me a bit, but no football mind puts his offensive players in better positions to succeed than Shanahan.

The 49ers defense is also getting a huge boost, with Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt all slated to return. San Francisco’s ferocious defensive line should have the edge in the trenches here, and with Minnesota’s banged-up wideouts, it could be a very tough day for Cousins. —Max Meyer

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