Our Favorite NFL Divisional Round Predictions
With four NFL divisional round games this weekend, we searched the playoff odds and found our two favorite NFL picks.
First Half Total: Over 26.5 Points in Jaguars-Chiefs (-120)
We know Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs like to start fast at home in big games. They were up 21-3 in the first half of last year’s AFC Championship Game before losing in overtime. They were up 20-0 in the first half against the Jaguars in Week 10 as well.
You can count on Mahomes to deliver, but we are less sure about Trevor Lawrence, who threw four interceptions in his first playoff game before brushing it off to throw four touchdown passes in a 27-point comeback win against the Chargers.
Lawrence obviously has to start better this week, and chances are he will as the Chiefs rarely play the kind of tight coverage with their corners that the Jaguars were failing against with the Chargers and Asante Samuel Jr.
Look for Doug Pederson to have some tricks up his sleeve as an underdog, and this game should get off to a fine offensive pace and hit the first-half over with 27-plus points for your NFL bet of the week.
Read our NFL spreads page for more tips on spread picks.
Total: Over 45.5 Points in Cowboys-49ers (-115)
Since Week 7, these teams are the top two in the NFL in scoring with the Cowboys averaging 32.3 points per game and the 49ers averaging 30.8 points per game. While both defenses are also elite and great at takeaways, we have seen some high-scoring games down the stretch for both teams. Even the 49ers allowed the Raiders to score 34 points in Week 17 in Jarrett Stidham’s first start.
This was a 23-17 wild card game a year ago, but the 49ers are much better on offense, and if Dak Prescott can play like he looked last week and most of this season, then the Cowboys should get up to 24-plus points again as well.
But it has been shocking to see how much scoring the 49ers are accomplishing with Brock Purdy, a seventh-round rookie. He can become the first rookie ever to throw multiple touchdowns in eight straight games. He was the first rookie since Sammy Baugh in 1937 to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns in a playoff game last week.
Maybe a 49ers-Eagles game would be a defensive battle this postseason, but for Cowboys-49ers, look for the points and an easy over to hit. Just hope Dallas kicker Brett Maher does not mess up the over like he did last week by missing four straight extra points, an NFL first.
Read our NFL over/unders page for more advice on betting totals.
NFL Divisional Round Game Previews
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)
The Jaguars made history last week in the third-biggest playoff comeback in NFL history by winning despite a 5-0 loss in the turnover battle. That is not supposed to happen, but they got the job done and are now 7-1 since the bye week for Doug Pederson.
The Chiefs enjoyed their bye week and have won five straight, though this is the best team they will have faced since losing to the Bengals. The Chiefs beat Jacksonville 27-17 in Week 10 despite turning the ball over three times that day. This has been a problem for the Chiefs this year, but not many teams are talented enough to capitalize and hold Patrick Mahomes down for most of the game.
The Jaguars are playing with a lot more confidence than they had in Week 10 after a slow start to the year. They have shown they can rally back from a three or four-score deficit, and they are no longer the team that loses every game if you score 21 points against them.
Look for the Chiefs to get closer to 30 at least, but the Jaguars have a puncher’s chance as Pederson understands very well how to play as an underdog in the playoffs where he is 6-0 ATS and 5-1 SU.
New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)
If you are the underdog Giants, you have to ask yourself if Taylor Heinicke and the Commanders can win in this building when the Eagles were hot and 8-0, why can’t we do it too?
Division rematches can always be tough, and just ask the Bengals and Bills about that last week. Even the 49ers were pushed for three quarters by a lesser Seattle team before a turnover changed everything as it often does in the playoffs.
The Giants do not force many interceptions at all, and Jalen Hurts almost never throws them. But he did throw three picks in the worst game of his career against the Giants in 2021. He is a much better player this season, but again, division games can be tricky and we have not seen Hurts throw a touchdown since Week 14.
The Giants are playing their best offensive football of the season at the right time, and Daniel Jones looked great in Minnesota in his playoff debut. It is unlikely this team has another 2007 or 2011 type of Super Bowl run in them, but never count out the Giants as underdogs.
Philadelphia is hoping to get right tackle Lane Johnson back for this game. On a positive note, Hurts is no longer on the injury report and should be good to go after the bye week. But we will see if he can deliver in his first playoff start at home.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills (-5.5)
The Week 17 game was cancelled between these two, so we will finally see a Joe Burrow vs. Josh Allen game this week. The Bengals scraped by the Ravens in the wild card round thanks to the longest fumble return touchdown (98 yards) in playoff history delivered by Sam Hubbard after the Bengals stopped a quarterback sneak
The Bills had their own struggles with a division rival from Miami as they held on for a 34-31 win despite turning the ball over three times. The Bills have 30 giveaways in 17 games, which is exactly how the Bengals can steal this game on the road.
We know the quarterbacks are going to move the ball, but Burrow is dealing with three offensive line starters out with injuries. Hopefully, this game won’t look like Super Bowl 55 when the Chiefs could not overcome major offensive line injuries against the Buccaneers.
But the Bengals are not strong at that position to begin with, and they catch a break with Von Miller out for Buffalo. But Burrow is going to have to play fantastic to upset the Bills here. We know he is up to the task.
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
These are two of the seven teams in the NFL this year to win at least 12 games. But the 49ers are 0-1 against that group, losing 44-23 at home to the Chiefs in Week 7, the team’s most recent loss. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are 3-1 against those teams, the best record of any of the elite teams this year.
But the Cowboys have to end San Francisco’s 11-game winning streak by avoiding turnovers and getting pressure on rookie quarterback Brock Purdy. If they can do that, then they have a great chance in this game.
The 49ers have the top-ranked defense, but the Cowboys average a league-high 32.3 points per game since Dak Prescott returned in Week 7. These teams met in the wild card round last year, and it is the only playoff start of Prescott’s career where he was held under 22 points.
This has the makings to be a classic game with two elite teams on both sides of the ball and plenty of great talent. In that regard, it is the best matchup of the weekend.
Frequently asked questions about the NFL divisional round
The divisional round is the second round of the NFL playoffs. It used to be the first playoff game for the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, but starting in 2020, only the No. 1 seed gets a first-round bye. Now, all six winners from wild card weekend advance to a field with the two No. 1 seeds, who both host the lowest remaining seed.
There are eight teams in the divisional round with four in each conference.
The four winners will advance to the Conference Championship Games next weekend, hosted by the higher seeds. If the AFC Championship Game is Buffalo vs. Kansas City, then the game will be played at a neutral site – likely Atlanta – due to the cancelled game/Damar Hamlin situation that left the Bills with a 13-3 record and no chance to finish 14-3 like the Chiefs, who they defeated in Week 6.
Since realignment in 2002, the home teams have gone 4-0 in the divisional round in four of the last 20 seasons (80%). It last happened in the 2018 season. Home teams were 1-3 in last year’s divisional round, and it would have been 0-4 if the Chiefs did not rescue their season with 13 seconds left against Buffalo.