NFL Playoff Picks 2019: Odds, Prop Bets and Divisional-Round Predictions

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2019

Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck lead their teams into battle Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck lead their teams into battle Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.Uncredited/Associated Press

The Kansas City Chiefs had a 12-4 record, won the AFC West and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference playoff structure.

When they take the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts, that will mean nothing. Yes, they have home-field advantage, but that may be weighing on the players. The Chiefs have had a brutal playoff record, and they have been at their worst when playing at home.

The Chiefs have lost 11 of their past 12 playoff games, and they are 0-6 at Arrowhead Stadium. That's somewhat shocking because the Chiefs have one of the biggest home-field advantages during the regular season, as well as some of the loudest fans in the league.

If Kansas City fans are not the loudest in the NFL, they are almost certainly second to Seattle Seahawks followers. While that issue is hanging over the franchise, the Chiefs have one of the most explosive offenses in the league.

Start with second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw 50 TD passes during the regular season and demonstrated tremendous creativity, arm strength and playmaking ability. He has a couple of stars on his side in explosive in wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, and the Colts are going to have a difficult time keeping the Chiefs in check.

Indianapolis got off to a brutal start this season, but the Colts won nine of their last 10 regular-season games and beat the Houston Texans in Wild Card Round.

The Colts are 5.5-point underdogs, but they have every reason to believe in themselves. Andrew Luck returned after missing the 2017 season and threw 39 TD passes in the regular season. He received brilliant protection from an offensive line that is among the best in the league.

Indianapolis also started playing hard-hitting and effective defense, with rookie linebacker Darius Leonard raising his game to superstar level.

The belief here is that the Colts are playing better football than the Chiefs, and Kansas City will also have to battle the pressure that comes with their recent 1-11 playoff record.

The No. 6-seeded Colts win and advance to the AFC title game.

                   

Divisional Round Playoff Predictions

Saturday, January 12

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

When: 4:35 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: NBC and NBC Sports App

Odds and Over/Under: KC -5.5, 57

Prediction: Colts 35, Chiefs 24

              

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

When: 8:15 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: Fox and Fox Sports Go

Odds and Over/Under: LAR -7, 49

Prediction: Cowboys 30, Rams 23

                  

Sunday, January 13

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots

When: 1:05 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: CBS and CBS All Access

Odds and Over/Under: NE -4, 47.5

Prediction:  Chargers 28, Patriots 27

                

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints

When: 4:40 p.m. ET

TV and Live Stream: Fox and Fox Sports Go

Odds and Over/Under: NO -8, 51.5

Prediction: Saints 34, Eagles 20 

Point-spread information according to OddsShark.

             

Dallas at Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams were the best team in the NFL through the first half of the season. They displayed an electric offense featuring quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald keyed a defense that was capable of making game-changing plays.

While they were 8-0 during the first half of the season, they were just 5-3 in the second half, suffering losses to the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.

All three of those teams made the playoffs, but L.A.'s offense appeared to lose much of its edge, and the defense struggled. The Rams allowed 5.1 yards per carry, and their run defense has been the worst in the league.

That should play right into the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott is perhaps the best running back in the league, and he rushed for 137 yards in the Cowboys' wild-card win over the Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks had one of the best and most aggressive run defenses in the league during the regular season, and Elliott tore up that defense. He may be even more productive against the Rams.

If Elliott has a big game, that will make life much easier for QB Dak Prescott. The Cowboys are seven-point underdogs in the Saturday night game, and there's no reason they can't stay with the Rams. We expect the Cowboys not only to cover against Los Angeles but win to advance to the NFC title game.

                 

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots

The easiest thing in the world of predicting NFL postseason games is to say the New England Patriots will win their divisional playoff game and advance to the AFC title game.

That's what the Patriots do. They have won every divisional playoff game they have played since losing to the New York Jets in the divisional round in 2010.

However, this may not be the typical New England team that dominates in the divisional playoff, advances to the AFC title game and represents the AFC in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady is a 41-year-old quarterback who threw for 4,355 yards and 29 touchdowns in the regular season.

The Patriots are lacking big-time receivers, and the loss of Josh Gordon makes them a less dangerous offensive team. Julian Edelman, James White and Chris Hogan are all capable receivers, but New England is going to need tight end Rob Gronkowski to step up after an ordinary regular season.

While the Pats have not been impressive by their standards, the Los Angeles Chargers had the same 12-4 record as the Chiefs had during the season. Kansas City won the division and the top AFC seed because they had a better divisional record than the Chargers. That relegated Los Angeles to the No. 5 seed in the AFC.

Philip Rivers is a dominant quarterback who threw for 4,308 yards and 32 TD passes during the regular season. Running back Melvin Gordon is one of the best at his position in the league, and so is wideout Keenan Allen. Keeping Rivers, Gordon and Allen in check will be a difficult assignment for the Patriots defense.

The Chargers were 7-1 on the road in the regular season, and they defeated the Ravens in Baltimore in their wild-card game. That road record should give them confidence in this game.

Look for Los Angeles to figure out a way to win the game as a four-point underdog. New England's divisional playoff streak comes to an end.

                 

Philadelphia at New Orleans

The Philadelphia Eagles appear to have the most difficult assignment of any of the road teams in the divisional round.

The Eagles won their last three games during the regular season to earn a spot in the playoffs, and the defending Super Bowl champions beat the Chicago Bears in their wild-card game.

Going to the Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints may be the toughest assignment of the postseason, as the Saints have the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff structure.

They also beat the Eagles 48-7 in Week 11, and while Nick Foles and his teammates may play a better game on Sunday, it still seems like a huge order for a team that struggled throughout the majority of the season.

Drew Brees completed 74.4 percent of his passes during the regular season, threw for 3,992 yards and a 32-5 TD-interception ratio.

Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are a formidable combination at running back and receiver, and it seems like the Philadelphia express comes to a stop here.

The Saints win and cover the eight-point spread.

              

Prop Bets

This category picks up considerably in the playoffs, and there are a couple of prop bets OddsShark lists that are worthy of strong consideration.

One of those is the number of road teams that will win in the divisional round. In our predictions above, we like the Colts, Cowboys and Chargers to win their games, and a selection of three road teams winning pays off at a rate of +325 (wager $100 to win $325).

The other choices are none at +260, one at +160, two at +300 and four at +10,000. Three triumphant road teams is unusual, but we see all three winning and will take that prop bet.

The other prop bet to consider is the quarterback with the greatest number of passing yards in each divisional playoff game.

Mahomes and Luck are the two favorites at +250 and +300, respectively. Both have excellent chances of having huge games, but the choice here is Rivers at +550. He is rated seventh of the eight quarterbacks starting in the divisional round, ranking ahead of Prescott.

Look for the Chargers to have an excellent offensive game against the Pats and Rivers to overcome winter conditions and throw for more yards than any other quarterback in the divisional round.

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