NFL Playoff Picks 2018: Odds, Prop Bets and Divisional-Round Predictions

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 13, 2018

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 24:  Wide receiver Rishard Matthews #18 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball during a NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at Nissan Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

The NFL playoff field is down to eight teams, and all of them will face off in divisional-round contests on Saturday or Sunday.

Here's a look at some spreads and over/under totals via OddsShark, as well as some picks for the quartet of contests. We'll also offer three best bets on a few OddsChecker props.

          

NFL Playoff Bracket and Schedule

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, 48.5 O/U)

Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 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 on CBS (lowest-seeded AFC team at highest-seeded AFC team)

Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. ET: NFC Championship 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)

       

Picks

Falcons 27, Eagles 13

Patriots 42, Titans 17

Steelers 20, Jaguars 10

Vikings 24, Saints 16

      

Best-Bet Props     

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeGarrette Blount Rushes for Under 34.5 Yards: 5-6

There are two reasons to believe Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount won't surpass 34.5 rushing yards.

First, he's the clear backup to Jay Ajayi at this point. In their last full game together before the end of the regular season (a 19-10 win over the Oakland Raiders on Christmas), Ajayi touched the ball 16 times while Blount amassed just five carries and one reception.

The second problem is that the game script may not go the Eagles' way. It's possible that the Falcons, who are 7-2 in their last nine games and playing great football right now, jump out to an early lead, which could force Philadelphia to pass more in hopes of getting back in the ballgame.

That means less Blount, who is not a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

In the event the Eagles do take an early lead, then we could see a ton of Ajayi and Blount as they run downhill all game and keep the passing to a minimum. However, the guess here is that the Eagles fall behind early and play catch-up for four quarters.

           

New England Patriots WR Brandin Cooks Accumulates Fewer Than 70 Receiving Yards: 10-11

This isn't an indictment on Patriots wideout Brandin Cooks, who is one of the most dangerous deep threats in the game. It's more of a commentary on the rest of the Pats offense since there are just too many mouths to feed.

On any given day, there could be a new hero. The No. 1 option is tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is arguably having the best season of his career. However, running back Dion Lewis has emerged as a massive problem to opposing defenses, and wideouts Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan are still in the mix.

Also, running back and Super Bowl LI hero James White can break off a big gain after catching a pass out of the backfield at any given time.

On the flip side, the problem with picking the under on 70 receiving yards for Cooks is that it's not out of the realm of possibility that he hauls in a long touchdown catch and hits the over on just one play.

However, if the game script is in New England's favor and they have a safe lead over the Tennessee Titans for the majority of the game, then it's hard to see quarterback Tom Brady launching multiple deep balls to Cooks. Likely, they'll dink and dunk all over the field to multiple receivers and slowly put the Titans away.

Therefore, the pick is for Cooks to finish under 70 receiving yards.

       

Tennessee Titans WR Rishard Matthews Accumulates More Than 49.5 Receiving Yards: 10-11

The Patriots are 13.5-point favorites over the Titans, per OddsShark. Of course, it wouldn't be unprecedented to see a double-digit underdog stay close (or even win outright), but the Titans' backs are against the wall against a New England Patriots team that went 13-3 and is looking to tie the record for most Super Bowls (six, currently held by the Pittsburgh Steelers).

The Titans' best chance to win is through a punishing ground game led by running back Derrick Henry and a tough offensive line. Quarterback Marcus Mariota could also use his scrambling ability (he had 10 rushes against the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday). If the offense is clicking, then the Titans' pass-catchers may not be featured as much.

However, if the Patriots jump out to a big lead, which is a definite possibility, then Tennessee may be forced to go through the air. The Pats have a bend-but-don't-break defense: They give up a lot of yardage (366, which is 29th in the NFL) but they don't allow many points (18.5, which ranks fifth).

Therefore, we could see some big stat lines from players like Titans wideout Rishard Matthews, who led Tennessee with four receiving touchdowns and finished second in receiving yards with 795.

The former Miami Dolphin has been quiet lately (just four catches in his previous three games), but he's posted a few solid games this year, namely a five-catch, 113-yard, one-touchdown performance against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense.

It's hard to predict that Matthews will reach those numbers again, but the guess here is that he will surpass 50 and safely go over this prop bet.

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