AFC Divisional Round Predictions: Two More Upsets?

The best online sportsbooks, all found in one convenient site at Sportsbook Review, are hanging lines on all of this weekend’s divisional round NFL action but here we will hone in on the two AFC tilts and give you our opinions on both the side and total for both games as well as identify the best value on the AFC board. Without further ado, let’s roll!

Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC) – Colts (11-6 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) at Chiefs (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS)

If you knew what we knew about first-time playoff quarterbacks, you would be on the fade train with each and every opportunity. Just take a look at the bloodbath last weekend when first time postseason passers Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky all lost their respective games — as home chalk no less! Since 2002, home favorites starting quarterbacks with no playoff experience have gone 4-16 against the number, which means this isn’t an aberration or an outlier, this is a serious pattern.

And guess what, kids? It’s happening all over again this weekend as Patrick Mahomes, first-time postseason starter, will face the hottest gunslinger in the league in Andrew Luck, who is 14-7 against the spread as an underdog of 3½ or more since 2013. With all due respect to the best online sportsbooks, posting their lines over at Sportsbook Review, they’ve all got one thing in common – they’re hanging the wrong favorite!

The Chiefs are going to lose for several reasons and one just happens to be the aforementioned trend which will most assuredly add Mr. Mahomes as more credible evidence of its validity once the day is done. The long and short is that the Colts have an offense to match Kansas City’s prolific attack but they also have a defense that has tightened up as the season has progressed.

Indianapolis is 6-3 ATS on the road while the Chiefs are a middling 4-4 ATS at Arrowhead. Indianapolis is ferocious on both sides of the ball with the best offensive line in the game while the Chiefs own a defense that can best be described as … offensive. Lastly, a team doesn’t lose a weapon as potent as Kareem Hunt and not miss a beat. The Chiefs are simply not as good without Kareem Hunt in their backfield and his absence is just another reason to like Indy.

Look, we will never eschew the points but do yourselves a favor and put a few bucks on the Colts’ money line as well and get to cashin’ kids!

Best AFC Value: Colts ATS (+5)

Total Play: Over 57

Money Line: Colts

 

Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Chargers (13-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) at Patriots (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS)

The reports of the Patriots’ death have been greatly exaggerated. Tom Brady is no longer, terrific, Rob Gronkowski is a back injury away from retirement, Josh Gordon (now gone) was New England’s only speed merchant with talent and because there are so few legitimate targets, Julian Edelman is no longer as effective because defenses can smother him without worrying about getting beat by the rest of New England’s mediocre receiving corps. The funny thing is, all of the above is true.

However, there is nothing like experience and an Evil Genius wearing a hoodie. Bill Belichick is universally hailed as either the greatest, or among the greatest, NFL head coaches ever to roam the sidelines. Now he gets to prove it because for the first time since the 2001 season, when the Pats stunned the world with a Super Bowl upset of Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf, Belichick no longer has the loaded lineup that he has had in the past. Nevertheless, the Patriots will prevail because they have had two weeks to scrutinize each and every detail of the Chargers’ roster, game film, and play calling schemes. The Pats are rested, healthy, and Brady is 7-0 vs. the Chargers, including two of those victories coming in the postseason.

While the Ravens were getting mugged in Baltimore, the Patriots were kicking back and resting their weary bones in the hot tub of their choice. Let’s also note that as good as the Chargers have been on the road this season (7-1 straight up and against the number), the Patriots have been even better at the Razor, registering a perfect 8-0 mark straight up and 6-2 ATS. The most unheralded aspect of this contest is a New England defense that has allowed only 17 points or less in five of their last six games.

Oh, and lastly, the Bolts will have jetlag galore after making the cross-country pilgrimage three times within a week. They should have just stayed on the east coast after their win over the Ravens but no, they had to skedaddle back to La La. Better for us backing the Pats. This game will see the Patriots cover and the total to go low.

Side: Patriots ATS (-4)

Total: Under 46.5

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