After an exciting weekend of Wild Card action, just eight teams remain in the battle to become Super Bowl champions.
More importantly for the gambling public, there’s just seven games of professional football remaining before we have to resort to gambling on basketball and baseball as we wait for the 2018 preseason. Thankfully, as the slates get shorter, our gambling options grow far wider, with props and side bets available on every game remaining on the NFL schedule.
Last week we went 3-1 against the spread as every underdog was able to cover the number, with two of them winning outright. Unfortunately, our prop bet picks were slightly less successful, resulting in our winnings being cut down to a meager $US65. That said, had Marcus Mariota completed one more pass and Tyrod Taylor gained just one more yard rushing, we’d be sitting pretty with $US275 in our pockets. I’m not crying over lost wages, but rather trying to take comfort in the fact that it feels like we’re trending in the right direction.
All that said, let’s get to the bets for the Divisional Round! There’s several intriguing matchups on the board and plenty of prop bets for those feeling lucky.
Below are our best bets for this weekend of NFL action. All lines come courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook.
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET)
The bet: Eagles +3 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: I’m an Eagles fan by trade so take this with a grain of salt – I won’t deny I’m a homer when it comes to this team. The Eagles looked less than impressive in their past two games with Nick Foles at quarterback, but I have reason to believe they are the right side in this one.
First off, Philadelphia has had two weeks to prepare for this game. Had the team looked good at the end of the season, I would fear that they come out looking rusty. Instead, I think they come out inspired – with the extra reps Foles will hopefully look reasonable under center, and if the rest of the team can play strong around him, I don’t see Foles throwing them out of the game.
But more importantly, I think the conversation around the Falcons heading into this game has become too comfortable. One win over a Rams team that hadn’t seen the playoffs in ages and now everyone seems to think that the Falcons are destined for another trip to the Super Bowl. I don’t buy it. Atlanta is a strong team, but they do have flaws. Plus, this might be my last chance of the season to bet a home underdog, and I’m not going to miss it.
Will Julio Jones score a touchdown?
The bet: Yes, Julio Jones will score a touchdown ($US50 to win $US75)
The logic: I thought these odds were way too low at first, but looking at the numbers, Jones found the end zone in just two games throughout the entirety of the regular season. Still, I’m taking him to score in Philly on Saturday – he was able to reel one in last week against the Rams, and it serves as a reasonable hedge should the Eagles fall apart.
Over/Under 4.5 total sacks for both teams
The bet: Over 4.5 total sacks ($US50 to win $US60)
The logic: Between the relative immobility of Nick Foles and the power of Philadelphia’s defensive front, it feels like either team could get five sacks on their own in this one. Getting both teams combined feels like easy money.
Tennessee Titans (+13.5) at New England Patriots (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
The bet: Patriots -13.5 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: I would normally never take a two touchdown favourite in the playoffs – it goes against almost every rule I’ve ever established for my gambling habits. But New England is good, and the Titans are not. Unless Derrick Henry has the game of his life on Saturday, I see the Pats jumping out early and never looking back.
Over/Under 30.5 points for the Patriots
The bet: Over 30.5 points for the Patriots ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: In their Super Bowl run last season, the Patriots scored 34, 34, 36 points on their way to lifting the Lombardi Trophy. I don’t see the Tennessee defence stopping the trend.
Over/Under 219.5 passing yards for Marcus Mariota
The bet: Under 219.5 passing yards ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: Mariota failed to reach 200 yards passing in four of the Titans’ final six regular season games. The Patriots defence isn’t the strongest in the league, but they have become a lot sharper than they were in the early weeks of the season. I also see Henry being much more the focus of the Titans offensive attack this week than Mariota. He can’t throw every pass to himself.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET)
The bet: Steelers -7.5 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: After all four underdogs covered in the Wild Card round, I feel like we’re due for some blowouts. The Steelers lost in embarrassing fashion when these teams met in the regular season, and should be out for revenge. With Antonio Brown likely back in the lineup, there’s no shortage of weapons for the Pittsburgh offence.
Over/Under 2 touchdown passes + interceptions for Blake Bortles
The bet: Over 2 combined touchdowns and interceptions ($US125 to win $US100)
The logic: Two picks and one touchdown thrown. Book it. I’m doubling up on our usual prop bet size because I feel so good about this one. It feels impossible we don’t at least get a push.
Over/Under 24 points scored for Steelers
The bet: Over 24 points for the Steelers ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: Again, I think the Steelers are going to be looking to run up the score after what the Jaguars did to them in the regular season. The Steelers scored 23 or more points in their final seven games of the season, and even with the Jaguars vaunted pass defence, I see them clearing the mark easily again.
New Orleans Saints (+4.5) at Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET)
The bet: Saints +4.5 ($US110 to win $US100)
The logic: Another game where I feel like the story has already been written. With the Super Bowl being held in Minneapolis this year, many have imagined how much fun it would be for the Vikings to make it to the big game with home field advantage. I don’t buy the hype. The Vikings are another young team with little postseason experience and the Saints have gotten better every week.
Will the first score of the game be a touchdown?
The bet: Yes, first score of the game is a touchdown ($US75 to win $US50)
The logic: Both teams in this game have so much big play potential that it’s hard to imagine the first touchdown not being some wild, broken 70-yard down touchdown. We have to pay a bit more for this prop than we usually do, it’s still a solid value given the teams involved.
Over/Under 23.5 completions for Drew Brees
The bet: Over 23.5 completions ($US55 to win $US50)
The logic: Last week Drew Brees burned me after I bet he’d throw for less than 269.5 yards. He beat that by more than 100, and I will not be doubting him again.
Now take a look back at the amazing run of championship games we’ve seen over the past two years.
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