NFL Playoff Odds 2018: Divisional-Round Picks and Super Bowl Predictions

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 11, 2018

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs runs up field after making a reception during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

The stage is set for the NFL's divisional round as the final eight teams will battle on Saturday and Sunday for the right to play in the conference championships.

Below, you'll find the remaining postseason schedule, game-by-game picks and analysis on how the rest of the playoffs may develop. All spreads and over/under totals are via OddsShark.


Divisional Round

Saturday, January 13, at 4:35 p.m. ET on NBC: Atlanta Falcons (-3, 41 O/U) at Philadelphia Eagles

Saturday, January 13, at 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5, 47.5 O/U)

Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5, 41 O/U)

Sunday, January 14, at 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-5, 46.5 O/U)


Conference Championships

Sunday, January 21, at 3 p.m. ET: AFC Championship Game on CBS (Lowest-seeded AFC team at highest-seeded AFC team)

Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. ET: NFC Championship Game on Fox (Lowest-seeded NFC team at highest-seeded NFC team)


Super Bowl LII

Sunday, February 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET: AFC champion vs. NFC champion on NBC (game will be played in Minneapolis)


Super Bowl LII Odds (via OddsShark, from January 7)

New England Patriots: 7-4

Minnesota Vikings: 15-4

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6-1

New Orleans Saints: 13-2

Atlanta Falcons: 8-1

Philadelphia Eagles: 12-1

Jacksonville Jaguars: 16-1

Tennessee Titans: 40-1


Divisional-Round Predictions

Falcons 27, Eagles 13

The Atlanta Falcons have given up just 23 combined points against the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams in their past two games.

Their performance against L.A., who led the league with 29.9 points per game, was particularly impressive, as Atlanta held the Rams to just one touchdown.

Given how well the Falcons defense has played lately, coupled with the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles offense sans injured quarterback Carson Wentz struggled mightily in their last two regular-season games, it's hard to bet against Atlanta here.

The hot Falcons defense should register another strong performance en route to an NFC Championship appearance.


Patriots 42, Titans 17

The New England Patriots just have too many offensive weapons for the Tennessee Titans to keep track of on Saturday.

If the Titans key in on tight end Rob Gronkowski, then maybe quarterback Tom Brady hits wideout Brandin Cooks deep.

If the Titans guard against the deep ball, then Gronkowski and running back Dion Lewis could have a field day catching short passes for four quarters.

The Tennessee offense sprung to life in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday, but the Titans haven't scored more than 24 points in a game since October 16. They'd need much more than that to win here.

Look for Gronkowski to be the Patriots' star in a big win.


Steelers 20, Jaguars 10

This game should feature a heavy dose of Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who only rushed 15 times when he faced the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 30-9 loss in Week 5.

Given that the Steelers are 6-0 when Bell rushes 25 or more times in a game, per Pro Football Reference, Pittsburgh must look to feed him early and often.

The Steelers are also a much different team than when they played Jacksonville in October. They have gone 10-1 since that game and likely would be 11-0 if this play was ruled a touchdown catch.

Meanwhile, the Jags offense has shown no signs of life in the past two weeks, scoring just 20 total points against the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. The problem is that they are now facing a much tougher defense in Pittsburgh, and at its home field no less.

Behind a ball-control offense and a tough defense, Pittsburgh will win a low-scoring affair.


Vikings 24, Saints 16

This is a rematch of the first Monday Night Football game of the year, when the Sam Bradford-led Vikings defeated the Saints 29-19.

Back then, neither team had lofty preseason expectations, but Minnesota and New Orleans have defied the odds and emerged as strong postseason contenders.

The bet here is on the Vikings defense emerging and slowing down a Saints team that is great at home (7-1) but just average on the road (4-4). On the flip side, the Vikings are a strong home team (7-1) and shut down every offense in its own building. According to Evan Silva of Rotoworld, the Vikings haven't allowed more than 19 points in their stadium since Week 16 of last season.

The Vikings' home-field advantage and strong defense will catapult them to their first conference championship appearance since the 2000 season.


Conference Championship Predictions

Patriots 24, Steelers 21

This has the potential to be the game of the year. The regular-season version of this contest (a 27-24 Patriots win) arguably was thus far.

There are two notable differences from that contest. First, this matchup would be played at New England this time. Second, Steelers wideout Antonio Brown should be playing the entire game after suffering a calf injury the first go-around, which forced him to leave the matchup in the first half.

This is a coin flip on paper, but the guess here is that Patriots running back Dion Lewis (who Football Outsiders ranked first among all rushers in defense-adjusted yards above replacement) continues his torrid late-season pace and is the difference-maker in another New England Super Bowl berth.


Vikings 20, Falcons 19

The Vikings would continue the trend of facing an NFC South opponent for the second time this season if this matchup comes to fruition.

Both defenses stood tall when Minnesota and Atlanta met down south, with the Vikings coming away with a 14-9 win.

With the way the two defenses have played lately, it's hard to project a shootout. That being said, these offenses are too talented to combine for just two touchdowns and three field goals yet again.

The difference will be the play of Vikings wideouts Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who have emerged as two of the best pass-catchers in the game. Although the Falcons slowed down the Rams attack last Sunday, L.A. wideouts Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp still went off for a combined 17 catches, 211 yards and a touchdown.

Look for the Vikings passing attack to be the difference in landing Minnesota its first Super Bowl berth since the 1976 season.


Super Bowl LII Predictions

Vikings 21, Patriots 20

On a neutral field (or in Gillette Stadium), the edge goes to the Patriots. However, if the Vikings make it this far, they'll be playing on their home field at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

As noted before, the Vikings perform well at home (only one loss) and shut down opposing offenses on a weekly basis (per Team Rankings, they only allowed 12.5 points per game when hosting, which is a league-best mark). 

The Patriots offense is near-impossible to game-plan against, but the Vikings have the personnel to match up with them. Per Football Outsiders, the Vikings finished in the top five in run- and pass-defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). Overall, they ended up as the second-ranked defense behind only Jacksonville.

This Super Bowl matchup has the potential to be a classic, and in the end, the pick here is that the Vikings take home their first Lombardi Trophy.


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