The NFL Playoffs continue this weekend with the top seed in each conference taking the field for the first time. Both Kansas City and Philadelphia play Saturday. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs welcome Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars into Arrowhead in the early game Saturday in a rematch from Week 10 (Saturday at 4:30pm ET on NBC and Peacock). The late game is the third meeting in the last seven weeks between Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles and Daniel Jones and the upstart New York Giants.
Sunday’s doubleheader features Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills hosting Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in the first game followed by Dak Prescott and the Cowboys paying a house call to Brock Purdy and the 49ers.
RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule
As sports bettors size up each game and look for advantages, they need to recognize and eliminate meaningless stats. For example, the misnomer is that beating a team three times in one season is extremely difficult. Not true. Since 1970, 21 teams have won the first two meetings in a season. 14 of those 21 teams won their third meeting in the playoffs. Sharps often say bet the numbers and not the teams. Consider these numbers: Winning teams have covered the spread in 33 of the last 44 Divisional road games.
Take and do what you will with those stats. Know that our NFL staff at NBC Sports EDGE have gone beyond those numbers to find their favorite plays for each game this weekend. They offer their favorite plays on everything from sides and totals to player props. The group includes Jay Croucher (@croucherJD), Vaughn Dalzell (@VMoneySports), and Lawrence Jackson (@LordDontLose). Tail (or fade) as you see fit.
- Kickoff: January 21 at 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC and Peacock, coverage begins at 3:00pm ET)
- Site: Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, MO
- Jacksonville Playoff History: 8-7 (0 Super Bowl Appearances)
- Kansas City Playoff History: 17-21 (2 Super Bowl wins – 4 Appearances)
- Series History: Kansas City leads the all-time series winning eight of fourteen games against Jacksonville. These teams have never met in the playoffs.
Note: Back in Week 10, the Chiefs beat the Jags 27-17 in a game where Kansas City jumped out to a 20-0 lead before coasting to the win.
Croucher: Kansas City Chiefs -8.5 (-110)
What is the track record of Patrick Mahomes losing at home against a pass defense as poor as Jacksonville’s? Nonexistent? The secondary has been Jacksonville’s weakness all season but was not exploited by Josh Dobbs or the Chargers’ uninspiring playcalling mixed with the absence of Mike Williams. Mahomes should do whatever he wants against the Jags – the fairytale ends here.
Dalzell: Kansas City Chiefs First Half Team Total OVER 14.5 (-115)
In the Chiefs last nine playoff games not including Super Bowls, Kansas City is 7-2 to the 1H Team Total Over 14.5 and 15.5 points. In those nine games, the Chiefs scored 21, 14, 21, 21, 19, 21, 28, 0 and 24 points (18.7/1st half). In the last four Divisional Round games, KC has scored 24, 28, 19 and 14 points in the first half of each.
I like the Jaguars’ defense and have enjoyed their current hot-streak, but I am willing to bet they struggle throughout the game against Patrick Mahomes at Arrowhead this weekend. I would play the Chiefs First Half Team Total to 15.5 or 16.0.
Jackson: Jerick McKinnon to score an Anytime Touchdown (+100) and….
The total is set at 53, so let’s think big here. Jerick McKinnon has scored a (receiving) touchdown in six straight games. His work in the run game has been shaky, but I like him to score plus a Chiefs’ win at +105. With his anytime touchdown prop at +100, you may as well bank on the Chiefs winning. Sprinkle in Patrick Mahomes to score plus a Chiefs’ victory at +375 if you are feeling frisky as he has scored a rushing touchdown in two of the Chiefs’ last four contests.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles -7.5 (Over/Under 48)
- Kickoff: January 21 at 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
- Site: Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, PA
- Philadelphia Playoff History: 23-24 (3 Super Bowl appearances, 1 win)
- New York Giants Playoff History: 25-25 (5 Super Bowl Appearances, 4 wins)
- Series History: The two teams have met 180 times (including 4 postseason games), with the Eagles leading the series with a record of 91-87-2. This includes four playoff games with each team winning twice.
Note: Daniel Jones and Jalen Hurts have combined to rush for more regular season yards (1468) than any other quarterbacks meeting in a playoff game. The tandem of Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen in 2020 (1426 yards) was the previous leader in the category.
Croucher: Miles Sanders OVER 66.5 Rushing Yards (-120)
In the one real match-up between these two teams Sanders had 17 carries for 144 yards. The Giants’ pass defense is improved with Adoree Jackson back, but the rushing defense remains a trainwreck (bottom 3 in rush EPA per play allowed on the season). Philly will target it, especially if Jalen Hurts is at all limited as a passer.
Dalzell: Daniel Jones UNDER 217.5 Passing Yards (-115)
Daniel Jones is coming off his third 300-yard passing game of the season and this prop line was a little inflated at the 223.5 opening line, but I still like the Under 217.5 passing yards down to 214.5. Jones tossed 300 yards against the Lions and Vikings twice, two of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.
This matchup versus the Eagles’ defense is much tougher due to their No. 1 DVOA rank through the air. Jones went Under 217.5 passing yards in 13 out of 16 games this regular-season and in three out of five career meetings versus the Eagles.
I cannot forget to mention that this is a Primetime game under the lights. Jones is 1-9 as a starter in Primetime with an average of 208.7 yards per game, in addition to tossing an interception in eight out of those 10 games. I expect more designed runs and hand-offs to Saquon Barkley versus Philly and lean yes to an interception at +105 and the Game Under 48 (-110).
Jackson: Devonta Smith longest reception OVER 23.5yds (-115)
Devonta Smith has had a reception of 23 yards or more in five of his last six games. The one game in which he did not was Week 18 (17 yards) which happened to be Jalen Hurts’ first week back from injury. Lets make it six of the last seven for Smith. Furthermore, Smith has been on a tear over his last six games averaging 9.5 targets, 6.5 receptions and 97.8 yards per game.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills -5.5 (Over/Under 48.5)
- Kickoff: January 22 at 3:00 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Site: Highmark Stadium – Orchard Park, NY
- Cincinnati Playoff History: 9-15 (3 Super Bowl appearances – 0 wins)
- Buffalo Playoff History: 18-19 (4 Super Bowl appearances – 0 wins)
- Series History: These two teams have met 32 times. The Bills lead in the series with a record of 17-15. The Bengals, though, are 2-0 in the playoffs against Buffalo.
Note: The Buffalo Bills were the only team to be favored in every game this season.
Croucher: Ja’Marr Chase OVER 82.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
In his past 5 games, Chase is averaging 13 targets. Even with the Bengals’ O-Line decimated, Chase showed he could still produce with shorter/intermediate routes against the Ravens, going over this number despite not having a single 20+ yard catch. In a game where the Bengals are 5.5point dogs and expected to be trailing and throwing, Chase should clear this number against a banged-up Bills’ secondary.
Dalzell: Joe Burrow OVER Passing Attempts ***
Joe Burrow finished with 32 pass attempts and we had the Under 36.5 versus the Ravens. I teased we would be on the Over versus Buffalo and here we are. Last game was a perfect AFC North clash that would take time off the clock and see long possessions, but with these two teams, I expect plenty of opportunities, especially for Cincy given how Josh Allen likes to turn the ball over.
In the divisional round last season, Burrow threw for 348 passing yards on 37 pass attempts before tossing 38 passes against the Chiefs for 250 yards in the AFC Championship. This is that type of game. Expect the ball to be in Burrow’s hands and the Bengals to lean on him to make plays with his arms and legs.
***This prop has not been published yet, but I expect between 37.5 and 38.5 if the books are smart.
Jackson: Cincinnati Bengals ML (+185)
I am keeping it simple here. No points needed. Despite the injuries and issues with their offensive line, the Bengals are the better team with the better quarterback. The Bengals have not lost since Halloween and just one of those game was actually close (vs. Chiefs). The Bills on the other hand, have squeaked out wins where they should have lost (including Wildcard weekend) and suffered losses to inferior opponents in that span. While both teams were lucky to escape to the divisional round, both sides will give a greater effort this week.
Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers -4 (Over/Under 46)
- Kickoff: January 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
- Site: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA
- Dallas Playoff History: 36-29 (8 Super Bowl appearances – 5 wins)
- San Francisco Playoff History: 36-23 (7 Super Bowl appearances – 5 wins)
- Series History: The Cowboys lead the all-time series with a record of 19-18-1 against the 49ers. This is the 9th time these teams have met in the playoffs. Dallas has won five of the eight postseason games.
Note: If the Cowboys are able to pull off the upset, they will have won the 37th playoff game in the franchise’s history. That would tie them with the Patriots for the most in NFL history.
Croucher: Brock Purdy To Throw An Interception: Yes (-115)
The Cowboys have a top four rushing defense, particularly with Leighton Vander Esch back in the fold, and the Niners are going to have to throw in this game. The Cowboys’ defense is – by margin – the best Purdy has encountered to date. Purdy has been excellent at avoiding turnover worthy plays, but he is still, understandably, prone to occasional moments of madness, and should throw at least one pick in this game.
Dalzell: Ezekiel Elliott UNDER 35.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
The Cowboys running back totaled 27 rushing yards on 13 carries versus the Buccaneers and that was a positive game script. The 49ers are the NFL’s best defense. This season Zeke had run for 42 or more yards in 13-straight games…until the past three contests.
Elliott ran for 37, 10 and 27 rushing yards over those three games (74 yards) on 40 carries (1.85 ypc) with a longest rush of nine yards. There is no reason to back Elliott’s rushing total Over, especially when Tony Pollard posted 77 rushing yards on 15 carries against Tampa Bay.
Pollard had a higher snap share (56.7%) than Elliott last week (47.8%) and I expect that to continue versus the 49ers. I played Zeke Under 35.5 rushing yards and would go to 32.5 yards.
Jackson: Ezekiel Elliott UNDER 35.5 Rushing Yards (-114)
Ezekiel Elliott’s rushing prop is set at 34.5 which is extremely low, but I am taking the under (-110). He easily hit that number in his first 13 games this season. However, in Week 17 with Tony Pollard absent, he barely eclipsed it gaining just 37 yards on 19 carries. In his last two games he has rushed for 10 and 27 yards respectively. The 49ers are the best remaining run defense in football giving up 77.7 yards per game and are coming off a game in which Kenneth Walker rushed for 63 yards. It could be an ugly game for Zeke.
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