We’re down to eight teams vying to be crowned Super Bowl LIII champions, and now it’s time for the four top seeds to start their playoff paths to Atlanta. The Chiefs first attempt to put away the scorching-hot Colts on Saturday before the Rams look to reach their offensive ceiling and outscore the Cowboys. On Sunday, the Chargers and Patriots will battle on CBS for a spot in the AFC Championship Game, then the Eagles will hope the Nick Foles magic continues in a showdown with the Saints.
We’ll take you game by game to reveal how our experts picked the lines for the divisional round and show you all the great places you can find NFL picks talk throughout the week. Let’s get to it.
What NFL picks can you make with confidence during the divisional round? And which Super Bowl contenders go down hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has beaten 98 percent of experts over the past two years.
Colts at Chiefs
- Time: Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC), stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
- Open: Chiefs -5
- Current: Chiefs -5
As SportsLine’s No. 1 NFL expert, I’m 5-0 in my last five against-the-spread picks for or against Kansas City and 20-6-1 in my last 27 involving the Colts, including calling Indy covering at Houston and Tennessee the past two weeks. Moreover, I went a perfect 4-0 ATS on Wild Card Weekend! Over the past two-plus months, I’m 55-31-2 against the spread, returning nearly $2,100 to my NFL followers. I’ve got a pick up for this game and you can check it out over at SportsLine.
“I love what Andrew Luck, Frank Reich, and the Colts have done this season. They’ve now won 10 out of their past 11 games. But they’ve yet to face a team like the Chiefs in that span. The Chiefs are the league’s best team in terms of DVOA and yards per play. Andy Reid is masterful when he’s coming off a bye. I think we’ll see the Chiefs come out with a great game-plan and go up big early, and I’m not sure how the Colts will be able to catch up if they fall behind. Hanging with the Chiefs is like being forced to sprint for the duration of a marathon. I don’t think the Colts have it in them to do so.” — Sean Wagner-McGough, who’s taking the Chiefs to win and cover in this game
“The Colts are on a roll, which means they carry momentum into this one. But they are playing the league’s best offense in their building, which will be a real challenge for a young defense. I think Patrick Mahomes will have a good – not great – day, as the Chiefs will find a way to win this one late. The Colts will find a way to cover the spread … See Mahomes. See Andrew Luck. See a bad Chiefs defense. See plenty of passing. This one will get into the mid-60s.” — Pete Prisco on why the Colts with the points and the Over are two of his best bets this week
Cowboys at Rams
- Time: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX), stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
- Open: Rams -7
- Current: Rams -7
“Dallas is not great on the road. The Rams are going to crowd the box and make Dak Prescott beat them. He’s interception-prone. Jared Goff has thrown 22 TDs and only three INTs at home. The Cowboys just played the Seahawks, and teams that play Seattle get roughed up. The Rams are rested and ready.” — Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg, who’s 6-1-2 on his best bets over the last three weeks, on why the Rams covering is part of his three-team best-bet parlay at SportsLine this week.
“Wade Phillips vs. Jason Garrett is some delightful revenge. Sean McVay vs. Rod Marinelli is the match to watch though. The Cowboys snuffed out the Seahawks run game and Seattle didn’t adjust. Will McVay, the brilliant young offensive mind, be able to change up how Los Angeles approaches this game? Will he try and force Todd Gurley in the outside zone run scheme to set up Jared Goff? Or will the Rams come out throwing, knowing they can’t run against Dallas. I’m sold on the Cowboys defense right now and I think they pull off a stunning upset.” — Will Brinson, who is projecting the Cowboys win their way to the Super Bowl
“There isn’t a single defender in the league who can wreck a game like Aaron Donald. The $135 million man in the middle is the most unblockable player in the NFL, equally capable of beating defenders with a move to the inside or outside, with speed or with power, with technique or with athleticism. The numbers he had this year are straight out of a video game on Rookie mode: 59 tackles, a league-high 25 of them for a loss; 51 run stops, again the highest total in the league, per Pro Football Focus; 20.5 sacks, an NFL-best; and 106 pressures (sacks plus hits plus hurries), more than any other player in football. And all this as an interior lineman.” — Jared Dubin in his matchup breakdown of this game, in which he’s predicting the score to fall within a field goal
“The Cowboys should look to pull off the upset by pounding the ball on the ground against one of the worst rush defenses in the league, one that allowed a league-worst 5.1 yards per carry. Aside from their rush defense, the Rams are an elite team in all phases of the game, so they’ll pose a huge test for a Cowboys defense that just benefited from the Seahawks playing to their defensive strength for 60 minutes, for some reason. As good as the Cowboys defense has played this year, asking them to dominate on the road might be too tough to expect. Five of the seven times they gave up at least 350 yards of offense came on the road. On the other side, the Rams totaled more than 400 yards in seven of their eight home games, including going over 500 against two good defenses (Vikings, Chargers). If they can turn this game into a shootout, the Cowboys passing attack will need to find another gear to keep up.” — R.J. White, and I also revealed a scary trend for the home teams this weekend in my weekly tips column
Chargers at Patriots
Micah Roberts has worked in the Las Vegas sportsbook industry for 20 years, including a 13-year run as Station Casinos’ book director. Armed with an unmatched network of sources, Roberts is on a 49-38 run picking NFL spreads, and has been especially adept at picking games involving both these teams. Roberts is on an epic 15-6 run on against the spread picks involving the Chargers and has hit on five of seven involving the Patriots! Anyone who has followed him is way up. See which side he’s taking over at SportsLine.
“In [the 2007 season], it’s the greatest ‘what if’ in the history of the National Football League. I held this from that day. Chargers were +9.5 in Foxborough against the 17-0 Patriots. I bet the Chargers, they lost 21-12 but they covered the spread. … Now, 11 years later, it’s time for Philip Rivers and the Chargers to finish what they should have started. Let’s get Norv Turner on the sideline. Let’s get LaDainian Tomlinson on the sideline. Get the good juju there for the Chargers, ’cause they’ve got the blueprint to stop the New England Patriots and Tom Brady — Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram — Brady’s 41, and they are going to slam Brady to the ground early and often, and it’s the Philip Rivers game. Rivers will outplay Brady, the Chargers will go into Foxborough and beat the Patriots.” — Nick Kostos, who will be joined by a cavalcade of NFL betting experts on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at noon ET for SportsLine’s NFL preview, where the team goes through the NFL slate each week and shares what you have to know before placing your bets. Be sure to join them on Sunday over at CBS Sports HQ, your 24/7 home for news, analysis, Fantasy and gambling insight, and more.
“There are a lot reasons to like the Chargers in this game. They’re undefeated outside of Los Angeles this year (8-0), Philip Rivers looks unstoppable and they arguably have the more talented roster. The problem with all of this is that I really only have one rule when it comes to picking playoff games and that rule is never pick against the Patriots in the divisional round. Since 2011, the Patriots are 7-0 in the divisional round and they’ve scored an average of 37.1 points in those games. The thing I like about the Patriots this year is that I think they’ll come out of their playoff bye completely refreshed. With Rob Gronkowski‘s body falling apart and Tom Brady getting aches where 41-year-olds get aches, no team needed the bye more than New England and they got it, and I don’t think they’re going to waste it.” — John Breech on why he thinks the Patriots will cover
“There are reasons to like the Chargers; they have the No. 8 defense (10th in run defense, 10th in pass defense) and the No. 3 offense (first in rushing, fifth in passing). The Patriots, meanwhile, are No. 5 in offense (ninth in passing, fourth in rushing) but just No. 16 in defense (19th in run defense, 14th in pass defense). And unlike previous years, where special teams was a decided liability for the Chargers, it’s now … replacement level. Given recent history, that’s a win in our book. Kicker Michael Badgley made 94 percent of his attempts in the regular season and was 5 of 6 against the Ravens in the wild-card round. In a game that could be decided by a field goal, that’s huge.” — Ryan Wilson on why he’s taking the Chargers to pull off the upset
Eagles at Saints
- Time: Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX), stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
- Open: Saints -8
- Current: Saints -8
A West Coast-based analyst who’s won numerous handicapping contests, Josh Nagel has his finger on the Eagles pulse: All-time at SportsLine, he’s 8-2 in against the spread picks involving the defending Super Bowl champions. That’s an insane 80 percent cash rate! That includes nailing both of his Eagles picks this season. Nagel went with Philly (-5.5) in its 28-13 win over the Redskins on Dec. 3, and took the Eagles (-1) in their season-opening 18-12 win over the Falcons. You can see which side of this game he likes over at SportsLine.
“I like the Saints in this matchup, but the spread is just too large. I think New Orleans and Drew Brees are better equipped to take advantage of the Eagles makeshift secondary than Mitch Trubisky and the Bears were, particularly at home in the Superdome. It’s just, I think the Eagles will have success on offense too. The Saints defense has been great against the run this year, but it’s been susceptible to passing attacks, and I think Nick Foles and company can exploit them there as well. Which is one of the biggest reasons I don’t want to touch this spread, because I think the Eagles are good enough to cover, but I don’t want to bet against the Saints at home in a playoff game. Thankfully we have this total, which I believe is just a little too low.” — Tom Fornelli, who’s making the Over in this matchup one of his best bets
Nick Kostos: “You look at the line, and the line tells you to take the New Orleans Saints. Obviously, all the pub right now is on the Eagles. The narrative is that Nick Foles is the greatest quarterback of all-time, which is obviously so preposterous that I’m not going to spend another second on it. But really, how do you go against them though? Foles might not actually be Joe Montana, but he plays like him in these big spots here. It’s very difficult to bet against the Eagles here … but I think I have to.”
Pete Prisco: “I’m on the Nick Foles train not because of Nick Foles, I’m on the Eagles because the biggest difference in the Eagles over the last month has been the play of their offensive line and defensive line, and that usually travels in the postseason. I think the Eagles are the play here.”
R.J. White: “I’ve got one player prop for you: Alvin Kamara +170 to score two or more TDs in this game.”
Will Brinson: “Wow!”
White: “And the reason is he’s scored in nine games this year, but six of them he scored twice. And then you look at what the Eagles have been doing, they have trouble adjusting in-game. Look at the guys they’ve played recently … People are scoring on them over and over doing the same things and it’s working, and for whatever reason they’re not getting their adjustments.”
Brinson: “When you look at what Sean Payton and Drew Brees have done at home in the playoffs, they’re 5-0 at home in the playoffs all-time … They’ve never not covered one with Brees and Payton. When you look at Drew Brees and Sean Payton over the last 10 years with two weeks to prepare for an opponent, it’s 11 games — 10 in the regular season, one in the playoffs — they’re 9-2 and 10-1 against the spread, and in those games they have a point different of plus-116.”
That’s from Friday’s edition of the Pick Six Podcast, hosted by Will Brinson five days a week and featuring nothing but NFL talk, from recapping games to insider buzz to picks and everything else you want to know. Listen to the divisional round picks pod below and subscribe!
Thanks for reading, and good luck on your playoff picks!