Eight teams remain in the NFL playoffs. Find our NFL Division Finals 2021 picks on which four teams will win and move one step closer to Super Bowl LV.
Division Finals 2021 Betting Predictions
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Green Bay Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams
A quarterback recovering from a broken thumb and a defence potentially without the best player in football against the presumptive NFL MVP and top offence in the NFL – that is the Rams and Packers game in a nutshell. And when you put it that way, it is difficult to find a victory path for the Los Angeles Rams to upset the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers looks unstoppable this season, setting a career-high in passing touchdowns and absolutely torching opposes defences in Lambeau. Rodgers and his receiver Davante Adams have reached a new level this season, and even Jalen Ramsay – the Rams top cornerback – will have a difficult time keeping Adams out of the endzone.
Even if the Rams defence plays well and limits Green Bay to under 30 points this season (something only four teams did this season), we do not believe in the Rams offence. Goff is recovering from thumb surgery, which limited him to 9/19 passing and 155 yards in the Rams win over Seattle.
At times, his passes fluttered across the field and with colder weather forecasted in Green Bay, gripping the ball is more difficult. Cam Akers can help the Rams move the ball, but no one should bet on a rookie running back to beat Aaron Rodgers and the top-seed Packers.
Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens
Josh Allen’s abilities to make plays against the Ravens’ historically dominant rushing attack headlines the Saturday night matchup of the Divisional Round. As outstanding as Josh Allen and the Bills have played the last two months, the Bills rushing defence is their Achilles heel in this matchup.
The Bills defence allowed 164 rushing yards to the Colts – including 75 yards to Nyheim Hines on only six carries (an averaged of 12.5 yards per carry). The Bills have now allowed at least 140 rushing yards in three of their last four games. The Ravens have rushed for 1573 yards the last six games (including the postseason) – the most in a six-game stretch since 1950.
The Ravens’ ability to run the ball so effectively will limit the Bills’ number of possessions. The Raven’s rank sixth in the NFL, averaging drives that last 3:00. The Ravens’ defence is also getting healthy at the right time – meaning it will be more difficult for the Bills to move the ball on the limited drives they have.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns
Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball – that is how the Cleveland Browns can beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL Playoffs. The Browns ran the ball down the Steelers throat despite missing a few key offensive linemen. They should have their full contingent of starters back for the Chiefs game.
Picking against the Chiefs sounds crazy, but their below-average rushing defence (ranking in the bottom rank for yards allowed and yards per carry against) and the luck factor helping the Chiefs (Mahomes led the NFL this season with 16 dropped interceptions) means it may be time.
Baker Mayfield has played much better the second half this season and is overall one of the most effective quarterbacks this season when not under pressure. The Chiefs ranked 18th in sack percentage this season but did manage to get pressure on 24.2% of dropbacks – good enough for 10th in the league.
But even if the Chiefs cannot get pressure on Mayfield, do we like him to outduel Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Chiefs offence? Mayfield was extra sharp against Pittsburgh last week – when they failed to pressure him – tossing 263 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
Mayfield now has a 14-1 TD-INT ratio in his last ten games. We see enough reasons to take the Browns to win the game (or if you are feeling less risky, at least cover the 10/11-point spread).
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 2021 Divisional Round concludes with a game headlined by the oldest quarterback matchup in NFL playoff history. Brady and his Bucs lost twice to Brees and his Saints during the regular season, improving Brees’ record all-time against Tom Brady to 5-2. The big question now is whether Bree can improve to 6-2 and tie Peyton Manning for the most wins against Brady.
The one thing everyone will consistently bring up this week is how difficult it is to go 3-0 against one opponent in a single season. That sentence is completely overstated and, in fact, not true at all. Since the merger, teams with a 2-0 record against an opponent are 14-7 in the third meeting. Brees owns one of those 14 wins, sweeping the Carolina Panthers in 2017-18.
The Saints match up well against the Bucs. They have consistently shut down Mike Evans the last two seasons – including a game with only two yards and a complete shutout in another. They have sacked Brady six times this season and picked him off twice. They have also moved the ball effectively, scoring 72 points in their two wins.
It is up to Brady to carry this team to victory, but we do not think he can do it. Despite throwing for 381 yards last week, Brady did not look impressive. He floated some balls and underthrew some others.
He ended the day completing 55% of his passes – the third straight game against an NFC opponent (who made the playoffs) where he failed to complete 60% of his passes. Overall, we like Brees and the Saints to sweep the Bucs
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