(48-44-3 against the spread this season)
By Danny Picard
BOSTON — I’m here to bounce back after a rough 1-4 week in the Wild Card round.
This week, I’m sticking with the favorites. Allow me to explain. Here are my picks for the Divisional round:
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-9.5) over Houston Texans
-It’s a rematch from Week 1, when the Ravens beat the Texans 25-9 in Baltimore. That was so long ago, it’s basically meaningless. What’s not meaningless though, is the fact that Lamar Jackson is well rested with the first-round bye, is hungry for a legitimate playoff run, and has the best defense in the NFL, statistically. The C.J. Stroud hype is real, but he won’t go into Baltimore and win in the freezing cold. In fact, I’m not even sure he’ll keep it close. I expect a Baltimore bloodbath on Saturday. Give me the Ravens to win by two touchdowns.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-10) over Green Bay Packers
-The 49ers are also coming off the first-round bye. They host a Packers team that just went into Dallas and upset the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. Jordan Love has a long, successful career in front of him, for sure. But Green Bay had one of the league’s worst run defenses during the regular season, and so this could be a monster game for Christian McCaffrey. Right now, the football world is comparing Love to Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre after his big win in Dallas. And I get it. But I don’t expect these 49ers to choke like the Cowboys did last weekend. San Francisco’s pass rush at home will force some turnovers, and the well-rested 49ers will win big.
DETROIT LIONS (-6.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-Baker Mayfield and the Bucs have had a nice little unexpected run, but now they head to Detroit to take on a Lions team that seems ready for an actual Super Bowl run. These two teams met in mid-October in Tampa Bay, and the Lions won, 20-6. Jared Goff threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns in that game, while Mayfield threw for 206 yards and one interception. Both pass defenses are suspect, as each allows nearly 250 pass yards per game. But it’s the Lions who seem to have very few holes in their roster, top to bottom. In Detroit, I think the Lions win. Thinking they could win by more than 6.5 points isn’t crazy. So I’m taking Detroit to go off and expose a Buccaneers team that’s overachieved because of their brutal division. Give me the Lions to win and cover.
BUFFALO BILLS (-2.5) over Kansas City Chiefs
-The Bills have been on a roll, and it started back in Week 14 with their controversial win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. Remember that game? When Kadarius Toney’s touchdown was called back because his foot was lined up offside before the snap? Patrick Mahomes went nuts afterwards, and the Bills ended up winning five straight games to finish the regular season as AFC East Champs. Buffalo is coming off a Wild Card win over the Steelers, while Kansas City beat the Dolphins. This one is in Buffalo, and the temperature will be in the ‘teens. The Chiefs just haven’t looked like themselves this season, and so if there was ever a time for Josh Allen to take advantage of that and make a Super Bowl run, it would be now. I’m taking Buffalo to win and cover at home.
Follow Danny on instagram @DannyPicard.