Tyreek Hill

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It’s the final week of the regular season, so before the NFL Playoffs begin, let’s nail some picks and head into the postseason with some extra cash to wager on the most exciting games of the year.

This season, we converted 62.5% of our Best Bets, which is an unheard-of percentage. The most successful sports bettors only get about 60% of their bets correct. It is simply unrealistic to think that you are going to win at a higher rate than that. Of course, there will be good days and bad days, but it is important to trust your process and remain diligent. And especially when you are just getting your feet wet in the sports betting world, it’s important to temper your expectations. Sports betting is not a quick money-making scheme. It is not realistic to expect a small deposit will turn into life-changing winnings. The most successful gamblers know that the only way to be profitable over a long period of time is to increase your bankroll in small increments.

With the regular season coming to a finish, there are no games this week on Thursday. There are two games on Saturday – the Kansas City Chiefs at the Denver Broncos followed by the Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 18, no Monday night game will be played. The rest of this week’s games will be played on Sunday, concluding with a primetime matchup on Sunday Night Football between the Los Angeles Chargers at the Las Vegas Raiders. That game will have tons of playoff implications.

The postseason picture has become a whole lot clearer in recent weeks. 11 of the 14 playoff berths have already been clinched. The Green Bay Packers have locked down the top seed in the NFC, so they may not play their starters the entire game in Week 18 against the Detroit Lions, despite Matt Lafleur stating the opposite. The Titans will clinch a bye and the top seed in the AFC if they defeat the Houston Texans on Sunday. Tempers will be incredibly high for teams jockeying for playoff seeding, and particularly for teams attempting to clinch one of the three final playoff spots remaining (two in the AFC and one in the NFC).

And with that, it’s time to gear up for this week’s edition of NFL best bets. It takes a lot of energy and research to have success over the course of a season when it comes to sports betting. Here at FantasySP, we are committed to helping you cash. Remember, if you win 55% of your bets, you are a really good gambler. We are looking at some eye-opening odds this week and will help you decipher the best games to place your money on, whether it’s against-the-spread picks, moneylines, over-unders, or prop bets. With that, let’s dive in.

WEEK 18 NFL BEST BETS

Kansas City Chiefs (-10.5) at Denver Broncos

Although the Chiefs perhaps blew their opportunity to win the top seed in the AFC by losing a heartbreaker to the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Kansas City can still earn a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in their conference. They must win this game and hope that the Tennessee Titans somehow lose to the Houston Texans.

Last week, the Chiefs’ offense performed despite the absence of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and underwhelming performances from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Still, Kansas City posted 31 points. It was the defense and some costly (and controversial penalties) that cost them the game. Kansas City’s defense has been on the rise prior to Week 17 and will get back on track against a Denver Broncos offense that has struggled to move the chains with Drew Lock under center. Lock has been unable to take advantage of some decent weapons in Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Noah Fant. Although Jeudy and Patrick missed Week 17 due to COVID-19, the Broncos didn’t score a touchdown until the final minutes of their loss to the Chargers in garbage time. Lock is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league and it’s tough to envision the Broncos putting up more than 20 points in this game. Even Denver’s strong suit, their running game, has gone cold in recent weeks. Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams combined for just 73 rushing yards and zero touchdowns on 24 carries against an abysmal Chargers run defense.

Meanwhile, Mahomes has the best weapons in the league and has done an excellent job utilizing Darrell Williams out of the backfield. The Chiefs should roll in this one and dominate a Broncos team that has been officially eliminated from the playoffs. Kansas City will have no problem covering the spread despite playing on the road in Week 18.

  • Pick: Chiefs (-10.5)
  • Prediction: 30-16 Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers (+4.5) at Los Angeles Rams

San Francisco needs this victory to get into the playoffs while the Rams need this game to clinch the division over the Arizona Cardinals. This is probably the most interesting NFC matchup on the Week 18 slate. Under Kyle Shanahan, the Niners have gotten the best of Sean McVay’s Rams in recent meetings, including a 31-10 Week 10 blowout earlier this season. However, the 49ers won the first meeting with Jimmy G under center, but there is a decent chance rookie Trey Lance will be under center in the rematch.

Lance struggled to get it going early last week but finished strong against the Texans. He made some huge throws and moved the chains with his legs when needed. That said, the Rams defense is much better than Houston’s defensive unit. Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd will provide pressure like Lance has never seen before, and the Rams’ secondary featuring Jalen Ramsey will make things a lot more difficult for the rookie quarterback.

San Francisco will attempt to utilize their run-heavy approach, but Donald and the rest of the Rams will do a good job at limiting the Niners’ success on the ground. On the other side of the ball, Matthew Stafford has struggled with turnovers recently, but San Francisco has one of the worst secondaries in the league. Cooper Kupp will have a massive day, and it doesn’t hurt that Stafford and Odell Beckham are starting to link up for touchdowns on a weekly basis. Stafford is going to pick apart this secondary. And although the Niners have a stout rushing defense themselves, Sony Michel has done an excellent job since Darrell Henderson went down with an injury. Although the game plan will call for more passing plays than running plays, I still think Michel will have some success.

Both teams are 8-8 ATS this season, however, San Francisco failed to cover the one time they were road underdogs earlier this season. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is 3-3 ATS as home favorites.

Overall, I think San Francisco’s secondary is not strong enough to stop Stafford and his elite wide receiver corps. And Trey Lance has struggled to get superstar tight end George Kittle involved in the offense. Expect a hard-fought battle, with the Rams eventually getting the victory and clinching the NFC West. Although 61% of the bets ATS are on the Niners, a whopping 86% of the money is backing the Rams. In this scenario, it is a good idea to follow the “smart money.”

  • Pick: Rams (-4.5)
  • Prediction: 27-20 Rams

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Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders

The final game of the week will be a thriller. This is essentially a playoff game. The winner will earn a postseason berth and the loser will be watching the playoffs from home. Many didn’t expect the Raiders to be in this position, but they played a great game in Week 17, defeating the Indianapolis Colts on the road, largely behind their defense. Derek Carr has done well this season, particularly since he has been missing superstar tight end, Darren Waller, for the last month. Hunter Renfrow has come through in the clutch. Not only did he catch a touchdown last week, but he also made a great play in the late stages of last week’s game to set up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning field goal as time expired. The Raiders are now in a position to somehow earn a wild-card berth.

After losing to the Texans in an embarrassing fashion in Week 16, the Chargers got back on track behind Justin Herbert and some pretty excellent defense against the Broncos in Week 17. Although the Chargers are on the road in Week 18, the offensive weapons around Herbert featuring Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and tight end Jared Cook, should provide tons of matchup problems for the Vegas defense. Although the Chargers are 0-2 as road favorites this season with a 13.5-point average deficit, Los Angeles should take care of business and clinch a spot in the postseason. Don’t expect a blowout, but I do anticipate them covering the minimal spread.

Additionally, both defenses are very exploitable, so expect a high-scoring affair. I think this game should easily produce 50+ total points.

  • Pick: Chargers (-3)
  • Prediction: 30-24 Chargers
  • Bonus: Over 49.5 points

Dallas Cowboys (-5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Both NFC East teams have already clinched a playoff berth, however, the specific seeds in the NFC are still at stake. Dallas has a chance to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC if they win and the Buccaneers and Rams suffer losses. The chances of that happening are pretty unlikely, so Dallas needs to be careful in who they suit up for this game. They already clinched the division so at the very worst, they will be the No. 4 seed. However, home-field advantage in any playoff game is very beneficial, so something tells me that Dak Prescott will start this game while the organization watches the scoreboard. If Dallas has no chance at moving up in the standings, Prescott may be benched. The Cowboys already lost wideout Michael Gallup for the season last week, and they don’t want to risk losing any other pivotal players.

The Eagles are currently the No. 7 seed in the NFC and the best they can do is finish as the No. 6 seed. There’s a good chance that Philadelphia rests Jalen Hurts for at least part of the game. Not to mention, Philly has a ton of players with COVID-19, so we should see several rested players on both sides of the ball.

The Cowboys are tied with the Packers for the best ATS record this season (12-4) while the Eagles are 8-7-1 ATS. Earlier this week, Jerry Jones hinted that the Cowboys will play to win. Although their running game has not looked great as of late with Ezekiel Elliott struggling immensely, this would be a good opportunity to get Zeke and Tony Pollard going ahead of the postseason. Plus, Dallas needs to get used to executing the offense without Michael Gallup.

I think it is more likely that Dallas plays their starters while Philadelphia rests a major group of their most important players. Don’t be surprised to see Gardner Minshew under center rather than Hurts. For this reason, I’m taking Dallas.

  • Pick: Cowboys (-5)
  • Prediction: 24-17 Cowboys

Carolina Panthers (+8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Panthers are an absolute mess and will be starting Sam Darnold on Sunday. Their offensive line has been atrocious, giving absolutely no room for rookie Chuba Hubbard to find any holes. Not to mention, Tampa has one of the best run defenses in the NFL. The Bucs will dominate the trenches just as they did in the last meeting between these two teams in Week 16 when Brady led the Bucs to a 32-6 victory.

Carolina has the second-worst ATS record (5-11) in the NFL. Since the Bucs are still fighting for playoff positioning, Brady should play most (if not all) of this game. With Chris Godwin out for the season and Antonio Brown recently released, Brady will need to continue to establish a rapport with the rest of the wide receivers on the roster.

Expect the Buccaneers’ defense to turn in a strong outing against a Carolina offense that is prone to turning the ball over. I anticipate the Bucs leaning on their defense and the running game to get the victory. Tampa Bay has already clinched the division, but if they lose and the San Francisco 49ers win, the Bucs would have to face a team that nobody wants to see in the first round of the postseason. However, if the Bucs are victorious, they may be able to avoid the Niners in the wild-card round. That’s why I expect the Bucs to go all out to get the victory, as they would earn the No. 2 seed in the conference with a win and a Rams loss.

  • Pick: Bucs (-8)
  • Prediction: 30-17 Bucs

Top Week 18 NFL Player Props

Note: Keep in mind that not all player props have been released. These are the top five player props that have been released at the time of this publication.

  • Cooper Kupp Under 136.5 receiving yards (-115)
  • Deebo Samuel Over 47.5 receiving yards (-115)
  • Tyreek Hill Over 62.5 receiving yards (-110)
  • Josh Jacobs Over 55.5 rushing yards (-110)
  • Patrick Mahomes Over 268.5 passing yards (-110)

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

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Welcome to this week’s Wednesday night NBA betting guide.

Last week, I turned $30 into about $1600 with three parlays. You can bet as much or as little as you are comfortable with. I happened to find some great value last week, and I'm here to help you do the same tonight.

Tonight’s biggest favorite is the Atlanta Hawks hosting the Sacramento Kings. Keep an eye on those odds though, as the spread could change depending on the availability of De’Aaron Fox. Now let’s take a look at the best multi-leg parlay of the night, as well as a same-game parlay that could net you a boatload of cash!

Please note that all odds and lines are current as of 2:30 PM EST from FanDuel Sportsbook on Wednesday, January 26.

Top Multi-Leg NBA Parlay Of The Day

Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers (+2)

Although Charlotte has lost a few games as of late, they are one of the most explosive teams in the Eastern Conference. Just a week ago, the Hornets annihilated the Knicks and the Celtics in back-to-back road games. However, the Hornets lost at home against the Hawks on Sunday, and they were bullied by Toronto on the road last night. The Pacers are pretty banged up heading into tonight’s contest. Malcom Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis have all been ruled out for tonight’s contest. Indiana will be without their three most talented players. Meanwhile, T.J. McConnel remains sidelined by his wrist injury. Although Chris Duarte and Lance Stephenson have stepped up in big ways for Indiana in 2022, the Pacers will be forced to rely on back-up guards Keifer Sykes and Duane Washington Jr. tonight.

In contrast, Gordon Hayward is the only big-name player that is currently listed as a GTD ahead of tonight’s contest for Charlotte. Miles Bridges, Lamelo Ball, and Terry Rozier will be in the Hornets’ starting lineup, shedding light on how much stronger their rotation is than Indiana’s. The Hornets are a more inspired and promising team than the Pacers. Charlotte will prevent a three-game skid from happening tonight in Indiana.

For slightly better odds, you can lay the two points that the Hornets are favored by and get a larger potential payout, though the Pacers often play close games, so it's a bit more risky. The Hornets have covered in 60.4% of their contests this season, good for the fourth-best mark in the NBA. They also beat the spread by 1.3 points per game while Indiana’s +/- per game against the spread is -0.1. All the peripheral stats, not to mention the missing talent from the Pacers’ starting lineup, point to a fairly easy victory for Charlotte tonight on the road.

Pick: Charlotte Hornets ML (-130) or Charlotte Hornets -2 (-110)

Learn more about the basics of sports betting!

Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic (-1)

The Clippers are on the road tonight taking on the Orlando Magic. Orlando ranks dead-last in the NBA with a 9-39 record while the Clippers are in the middle of the pack with a 24-25 record. Getting Los Angeles with these favorable odds (+102 on the moneyline) against an inferior opponent is excellent value. Not to mention, Orlando’s average margin of victory or defeat is -8.5 points. For Orlando to win their 10th game of the season, their best chance to do so would be at home, but certainly not against the Clippers. Although Los Angeles is without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, their rotation is definitely more appealing than Orlando's. Ivica Zubac has stepped up in a big way recently for the Clippers, and I think he will create problems for Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. Franz Wagner, who plays like a point forward, will also have difficulties against Zubac in the post. Although Marcus Morris is DTD, the rest of the Clippers (other than PG13 and Kawhi) are healthy. The Magic also have a healthy roster (Fultz remains sidelined) but they have a very slim chance against the sharp-shooting Clippers. Since Orlando has the worst record in the NBA while the Clippers remain in playoff contention in the Western Conference, the Clippers should defeat the Magic, even on the road.

Pick: Los Angeles Clippers ML (+102)

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Same-Game Parlay Of The Night

Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers (+4)

Leg 1: Bobby Portis Over 1.5 Three’s (-136)

Bobby Portis is having an excellent season. Much of his offensive production is coming from beyond the arc. He’s scoring 15.0 PPG while converting 47.3% of his attempts from the field and is nailing an impressive 41.4% of his shots from three-point range. He’s hit 75 of his 181 threes this season. Additionally, the Cavs are allowing the ninth-best three-point percentage to opposing centers this season. Portis is converting a career-high 1.9 threes per game this season and is attempting more shots from beyond the arc than ever before, evidenced by the fact that 36.9% of his shot attempts are from three-point range. He’s clearly gaining confidence from deep range. Last season, only 26.3% of his shots were from downtown. Portis has drained a three in 11 of 12 games in January and has converted multiple threes in six of those outings. Given all the attention that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton garner, Portis should see plenty of open looks tonight in Cleveland.

Leg 2: Darius Garland Over 22.5 Points (-102)

The always healthy and offensively brilliant Darius Garland should be Cleveland’s biggest scorer tonight. Although he is coming off a 13-point (6-19 FG) dud against the Knicks, he scored at least 20 points in five consecutive contests before stalling out against New York. Though he’s averaging 19.7 PPG this season, he’s averaging more than 20 PPG in January. If Cleveland has any chance tonight, they’ll need massive scoring production from their best playmaker..

Leg 3: Jrue Holiday Over 3.5 Rebounds (-154)

When point guards play more than 30 MPG, they typically grab a handful of rebounds. Although Holiday has been limited to 36 games this season, he is logging 32.6 minutes per game and averaging 4.6 rebounds per contest. This is not because he is a particularly gifted rebounder, but rather that he gets a ton of opportunities given the number of minutes he plays. Like Stephen Curry (who is averaging 5.4 rebounds per game), Jrue Holiday is averaging close to five boards per game for the same reasons. Especially if Cleveland shoots poorly from the field tonight, Holiday should haul in at least four boards.

If Darius Garland hits 23 points or more tonight, this parlay should cash. It makes too much sense for Bobby Portis to drain 2+ threes and for Jrue Holiday to record at least four rebounds. For a +460 3-leg parlay, it doesn’t get safer than this tonight. View the actual bet that I placed on FanDuel below.


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Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

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After a plethora of blowouts during Super Wild Card Weekend, the Divisional Round was much more entertaining. All four games were determined by one score and came down to the wire.

Fortunately for the readers of this column, I nailed all four of my predictions for the Divisional Round. I have now correctly identified the winner of all but one game and am 8-2 against the spread in the postseason! We have netted over a grand in the past two weeks. Let’s keep this hot streak going as we gear up for the Conference Championship

After only one underdog was victorious in the Wild Card Round, three of the four road teams moved onto the Conference Championship this past weekend.

Divisional Round Recap

Despite Derrick Henry’s return to the top-seeded Titans, things couldn’t have started any worse for Tennessee. Ryan Tannehill threw the first of three interceptions on the first play from scrimmage and the Bengals were immediately in scoring position. Tennessee’s defense played well and held the Bengals to a field goal. After taking a 6-0 lead, the Titans tied it up behind a goal-line touchdown from King Henry. However, they failed to convert the two-point conversion. Rookie kicker Evan McPherson nailed a 54-yard kick to give the Bengals a 9-6 lead at the half. To begin the second half, Joe Burrow led Cincinnati down the field before Joe Mixon capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown scamper. However, Tennessee scored 10 unanswered points, including a 33-yard touchdown to A.J. Brown. But despite sacking Burrow nine times, the Bengals won the turnover battle. After picking Tannehill off with just 28 seconds to go in the game, Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase on an absolute dart to the sideline, which set up McPherson’s game-winning 52-yard field goal. The rookie kicker was the player of the game despite strong performances from Mixon, Chase, and Tee Higgins.

After upsetting the Dallas Cowboys, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers. After Rodgers led Green Bay down the field on the opening drive, rookie running back A.J. Dillon found the end zone on a six-yard scamper. From then on out, it was a defensive and special teams battle. To end the first half, San Francisco blocked Mason Crosby’s 39-yard field-goal attempt. That wouldn’t be the only critical special teams play of the game. After swapping field goals in the second half, San Francisco blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game at 10-10. Although the Niners did next to nothing on offense all day, Jimmy G found a way to get Robbie Gould into field-goal range for a game-winner. He nailed a 45-yard attempt as time expired, upsetting the NFC’s top seed. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones had solid games, but San Francisco’s defense and special teams were tremendous.

Sunday’s games kicked off with what looked to be a blowout. The Rams were in complete control mid-way through the third quarter with a 27-3 lead. However, you can never count out Tom Brady. Brady led three touchdowns drives in the final minutes to tie the game up at 27 with just 46 seconds remaining. However, the Bucs simply could not cover Cooper Kupp. After catching a 70-yard touchdown pass in the first half, Kupp hauled in two massive receptions (20 and 44 yards) to set up a game-winning field goal by Matt Gay. For the third straight game of the weekend, the road underdog was victorious.

Last but not least, we witnessed a game for the ages between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. Both quarterbacks were flawless. Patrick Mahomes threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns while adding 69 rushing yards and an additional score. Josh Allen totaled 329 yards through the air, four touchdowns (all to Gabriel Davis), and 68 rushing yards. Down by five points and facing a 4th and 13, Allen threw a dart to a wide-open Davis in the end zone. The Bills then converted a two-point conversion to take a three-point lead. But there was way too much time left on the clock. Mahomes tossed a 64-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill to take a 33-29 lead with just over a minute remaining. Allen then drove his team 75 yards in 75 seconds to take a 36-33 lead with 13 seconds left. Somehow, Mahomes got Harrison Butker into field-goal range on two intermediate passes to Hill and Travis Kelce. The game went into overtime. How fitting? Unfortunately for Bills fans and bettors, the Chiefs won the coin toss and marched down the field fairly easily. On the eighth play of overtime, Mahomes hit Kelce in the right corner of the end zone, ending Buffalo’s postseason hopes. Sean McDermott’s Bills will be back with a vengeance next season and there is officially a rivalry between Buffalo and Kansas City after this epic contest.

So now that we reviewed this past weekend’s contests, let’s take a look at the upcoming matchups in the Conference Championship, as the Chiefs host the Bengals and the Rams host the 49ers. The spreads have changed slightly, so let’s take a look at the opening lines as well as the current lines.

AFC Conference Championship

Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)

After each team won their respective games in thrilling fashions in the Divisional Round, bettors will be treated to a Week 17 rematch when the Bengals found a way to defeat the Chiefs, 34-31, on the road. However, Kansas City led 28-17 at the half of that game and it looked like the Chiefs would end up routing Cincinnati before a lackluster second half. Ja’Marr Chase erupted for the most receiving yards in franchise history, the refs made a few horrible calls, and the Chiefs’ offense completely stalled out. I don’t foresee that happening in a playoff atmosphere when everything is on the line.

The Chiefs are the more talented and well-rounded team with more offensive firepower and they arguably have the best quarterback in the NFL. With Patrick Mahomes under center, the Chiefs are 8-2 in the postseason contests. Those two losses occurred against Tom Brady. Although Joe Burrow is becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, he is not the GOAT. Burrow and his weapons at the wide receiver position will create tons of mismatches against Kansas City’s depleted secondary (especially if Tyrann Mathieu doesn’t play), but the Bengals’ offense can be slowed down by a solid pass rush and zone coverage.

The Chiefs have scored 42 points in back-to-back outings and should have no trouble against a middle-of-the-pack defense after dominating Buffalo’s top-rated defensive unit last week. Kansas City has all of their playmakers back at full strength on the offensive side of the ball and even their running game looked solid against the Bills. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon both should have pivotal roles in the Conference Championship, but the Chiefs are still going to rely on the passing game.

Although the total is a very high number (54.5 points), this is going to be a shootout, so I would suggest taking the over. A whopping 97% of the money thus far on Over / Under bets is on the Over. I’m following the smart money on this one. And despite a full touchdown spread, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs blew the Bengals out this week. Chiefs win and cover.

  • Pick: Chiefs (-7)
  • Prediction: 37-26
  • Bonus: Over 54.5 Points

NFC Conference Championship

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3)

The Niners snuck into the postseason after overcoming a 17-point deficit to the Rams in Week 18 and eventually winning in overtime. Kyle Shanahan has beaten Sean McBay six times in a row and San Francisco seems to be the more physical team at the line of scrimmage, though Aaron Donald does make that difficult for San Francisco’s offensive line. Trent Williams’ return to the offensive line will certainly help the Niners’ pass protection and run blocking. Expect Eli Mitchell to get a ton of touches in order to keep the ball out of Stafford’s hands.

Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp have been phenomenal all season long, but the Niners realized that they were even better when facing the blitz. Stafford was the fourth-highest graded quarterback this season when facing blitzes. That’s why he was so effective against the Bucs last week, as Tampa blitzed Stafford a season-high 17 times, including on the game-winning pass to Cooper Kupp that set up Matt Gay’s field goal. Meanwhile, San Francisco managed to get pressure by just rushing four players. They blitzed Stafford a combined 14% in both games this season. Since the Niners are a little weak in the secondary, they have forced Stafford to make tough decisions by dropping linebackers into coverage. That’s the only way to defeat this Rams team and Shanahan knows it.

On offense, Jimmy Garoppolo has been very effective in throwing the ball down the middle of the field against Los Angeles. In their two meetings this season, Jimmy G completed 29-of-36 attempts for 319 yards and three touchdowns over the middle of the field. Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle will play pivotal roles in San Francisco’s upset bid.

All that said, the Rams are still the more complete team and their quarterback is far superior to Garoppolo. After losing Robert Woods to a season-ending ACL injury, they signed Odell Beckham Jr., who now has scored six touchdowns since joining the team after failing to find the end zone with Cleveland over the first half of the season. Beckham’s chemistry with Stafford has improved every week and Cooper Kupp remains unstoppable. Nobody in the 49ers’ secondary is going to be able to cover Kupp one-on-one so expect a ton of zone coverage. Still, Kupp should be able to find open space, and when he is double-teamed, Stafford will look for OBJ, Van Jefferson, or Tyler Higbee.

And don’t forget that the Rams did not have Cam Akers in the lineup for the previous two meetings between these two franchises. Akers provides much-needed explosion out of the backfield for the Rams. Although I expect the Niners to cover the spread and make this game a nail-biter, Los Angeles should come out on top if they can avoid costly turnovers.

  • Pick: 49ers (+3)
  • Prediction: 24-23 Rams

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Davante Adams of Green Bay Packers

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Super Wild Card Weekend featured some great games that came down to some riveting finishes.

We also saw our fair share of blowouts. It was a wild beginning to the NFL postseason, specifically the way the Dallas Cowboys were unable to snap the ball before time expired against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners were the only road team to win in the first week of the playoffs. We went 4-2 with our Best Bets of the week but correctly identified all six winners in their respective matchups.

Super Wild Card Weekend Recap

In the first playoff game of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals snapped their 31-year playoff game drought, as they dispatched the Las Vegas Raiders, 26-19. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase were absolutely fantastic in their first playoff appearance, connecting nine times for 116 yards. Still, Derek Carr managed to march the Raiders down the field for a final attempt to force overtime. Unfortunately for Raiders' bettors and fans, Carr was picked off by Germaine Pratt with 17 seconds remaining, officially clinching the Bengals’ first playoff victory in 31 years.

The second game this weekend was not nearly as exciting. In what was expected to be a tight game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, Josh Allen dominated from start to finish. The game was over before the second half began, as Buffalo led 27-3 at halftime. Allen had a perfect passing rating after completing 25 of 31 passes for 308 yards and five touchdowns. He additionally turned six carries into 66 rushing yards. And miraculously, he hit nine different receivers in this game. Mac Jones threw two late touchdowns to Kendrick Bourne in garbage time, but the Bills defeated the Patriots, 47-17.

Sunday kicked off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers smoking the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts looked uncomfortable all day as the Bucs’ defense was finally at full strength. Tom Brady tossed two touchdowns, and despite missing Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones, the Buccaneers’ running game was actually pretty solid. Both Ke’Shawn Vaugh and Gio Bernard scored touchdowns. At the end of three quarters, the Bucs led 31-0. Hurts led the Eagles to two late touchdown drives, but it was too little too late. The Bucs moved on easily after defeating Philly, 31-15.

In the most exciting game of the weekend, the San Francisco 49ers pulled off the upset in Dallas. San Francisco dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel both had excellent days on the ground, and San Francisco sacked Dak Prescott five times and forced an interception. However, the Cowboys marched back from a 16-point deficit and had an opportunity to win the game on the final drive of the game. With 14 seconds remaining, Prescott took off from midfield and slid at the 33-yard line. Before the Cowboys could get set and spike the ball for a final throw to the end zone, time expired. The Niners won, 23-17.

After a slow start on offense and a defensive touchdown by T.J. Watt that gave Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead, the Kansas City Chiefs got it going in the second quarter. Mahomes tallied over 400 yards and five touchdowns. Even Travis Kelce threw a touchdown of his own. The Chiefs won this game with ease, 49-21. Ben Roethlisberger has likely played his last game in the NFL.

The final game of the Wild Card Round was expected to be a close divisional matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. Instead, the Rams went up 21-0 by the end of the first half and never looked back. Odell Beckham Jr. had a great game and Matthew Stafford did an excellent job protecting the football. It was also great to see Cam Akers playing with some serious burst and speed considering it’s been just six months since he tore his ACL. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray was atrocious in the first playoff game of his career. He threw two interceptions (including one head-scratching desperate heave from his own end zone that resulted in a pick-six). The Cardinals have a talented roster, but without DeAndre Hopkins, they simply imploded late in the season. They will be back with a vengeance next season and for many years to come.

So now that we reviewed this weekend’s contest, let’s take a look at the upcoming matchups in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. The spreads have changed in certain games, so let’s take a look at the opening lines as well as the current lines.

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Saturday Divisional Round Picks

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)

The Bengals and Titans could not be more different when it comes to their respective offensive identities. The Bengals are a pass-heavy team with a stud quarterback in Joe Burrow and one of the best receiver tandems in the league featuring Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. Don’t get me wrong, they can absolutely run the ball well too with superstar Joe Mixon, but Zac Taylor will look to exploit Tennessee’s secondary. The Titans allowed 245.2 passing yards per game, the eighth-worst in the NFL. It will be difficult to find any running room for Mixon, as Tennessee permitted just 84.6 rushing yards per game, the second-fewest in the league.

On the other side of the ball, the Titans will attempt to run the ball down Cincinnati’s throats, especially with the triumphant return of Derrick Henry. Henry may not be at full strength, but he is an upgrade over D’Onta Foreman, though Foreman should still get some carries in this matchup. That said, Cincinnati allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game this season. Ryan Tannehill is going to have to air it out so that the offense doesn’t become so predictable. A.J. Brown is a matchup nightmare for the Bengals’ secondary and Julio Jones could serve as a solid red-zone threat after scoring his first touchdown of the season in Week 18.

Last week, I only picked one upset, but this week’s matchups seem much more even. The Titans are a good football team and are incredibly well-coached, however, the Bengals have a much more explosive offense. If Burrow and Chase can perform as they did against the Raiders, I expect Cincinnati to pull off the upset and knock out the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

  • Pick: Bengals (+3.5)
  • Prediction: 27-23 Bengals

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-5.5)

After getting some much-needed rest, the Green Bay Packers will host the red-hot San Francisco 49ers. Although the Niners are in good spirits, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a minor shoulder injury, and defensive stud Nick Bosa suffered a concussion in San Francisco’s thrilling victory over the Cowboys. Without Bosa, I’m not sure the Niners have much of a chance at defending Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams. If Bosa is active, an upset isn’t out of the question. The 49ers’ secondary is the weakest unit on their roster. Without Bosa to put pressure on Rodgers, the reigning MVP will have way too much time in the pocket to find his talented receivers.

Kyle Shannahan will continue to do what the Niners do best and that is run the ball. Eli Mitchell and Deebo Samuel should combine for 30 touches in this game. San Francisco will attempt to move the chains and kill some clock to limit the number of possessions that Rodgers gets. Fortunately for San Francisco, the Packers allowed the third-most rushing yards per game this season.

Both offenses should thrive in this game, as each team’s offensive has several matchups to exploit. Davante Adams is going to have a massive game. Don’t be surprised if he catches 10 passes for 150 yards and multiple touchdowns. However, the 49ers are a very physical team, and if they can dominate the line of scrimmage as they did against the Cowboys, they have a shot at upsetting Green Bay at Lambeau Field. With the weather forecast calling for snow, that benefits San Francisco’s style of play, though the Packers are used to playing in cold weather. It may be a bit harder for Rodgers to get the passing game going in these conditions, but he’s a veteran with years of experience in these types of games. While I expect the 49ers to cover the spread, Green Bay will sneak into the Conference Championship by converting a last-second field goal.

  • Pick: 49ers (+5.5)
  • Prediction: 26-24 Packers
  • Bonus: Over 47.5 Points

Sunday Divisional Round Picks

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

The Rams played mistake-free football Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals and now must head to Raymond James Stadium to take on Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl champions. Although the Bucs handled the Philadelphia Eagles quite easily, the Rams are a completely different type of foe with one of the best head coaches in the NFL. Los Angeles has defeated Tampa Bay twice over the past two seasons and will look to make it three straight. We all know that the only way to make Tom Brady uncomfortable in the pocket is to pressure him up the middle. Fortunately for the Rams, they have a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald. Plus, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller will make life difficult for TB12.

Without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, Brady performed well against the Eagles. He hit Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski each for a touchdown. Cameron Brate made a few decent plays, but Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman, and Scotty Miller are no match for the Rams’ secondary. Jalen Ramsey will likely shadow Evans, which will force the Bucs to run the ball or throw to their least trustworthy pass catchers. Even if running back Leonard Fournette returns to action, the Rams allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game this season. Something tells me Brady is going to have to play one of his best games to move on in the postseason.

All that said, Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ offense need to show up. We can’t get the inconsistent Rams that we saw towards the end of the regular season. Los Angeles needs to remain balanced on offense, mixing in Cam Akers and Sony Michel, while utilizing Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Higbee, and Van Jefferson.


Cooper Kupp Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles RamsGetty Images

Stafford needs to protect the football. Whoever wins the turnover battle in this contest will move on to the NFC Conference Championship.

Although only 50% of the bets on the spread right now are backing the Rams, a whopping 91% of the money has been wagered on Los Angeles covering the three-point handicap. I’m following the smart money and taking the Rams, though I’ll go a bit further and say that Los Angeles upsets Tampa Bay on the road, ending Tom Brady’s hopes of back-to-back Super Bowl titles with the Bucs.

  • Pick: Rams (+3)
  • Prediction: 30-23 Rams

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-2)

This is the matchup that we have all been waiting for. Many pundits expect the winner of this game to win the Super Bowl, myself included. Both Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes were excellent during the Wild Card Round. In fact, Allen actually had a perfect passer rating. Mahomes was close, but he did throw an interception in the first quarter. Each quarterback threw for five touchdowns apiece. They also have some of the best weapons in the league in their respective arsenals. Will Buffalo’s league-best defense be able to limit Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce? That’s the big question.

Last year in the Divisional Round, the Chiefs defeated the Bills in a fairly comfortable fashion. This year’s Buffalo squad is much better than it was last year with the improvement of Devin Singletary, Gabriel Davis, Dawson Knox, and Isaiah McKenzie, plus the addition of Emmanuel Sanders. And don’t forget Stefon Diggs. This offense has some serious firepower and the defense has shut down opponents all year long.

If Buffalo’s defensive line can out-work Kansas City’s offensive line, Mahomes could be scrambling for his life, much as he did in last year’s Super Bowl. That’s clearly the recipe to success against this high-powered Chiefs offense. If this game were being played in Buffalo, I am convinced that Josh Allen would lead the Bills to victory. However, playing at Arrowhead is no easy task. Kansas City’s fans will make things difficult for Buffalo’s offensive line. And although the Chiefs have improved through the year on defense, Buffalo has too many skill players to cover on any given down. This is going to be an absolute shoot-out. Buffalo is more well-rounded, but if their defense doesn’t get to Mahomes, the Chiefs will light up the scoreboard just as they did against the Steelers last week.

Overall, this is a bit of a coin flip. I don’t love betting on this game as both teams deserve to move onto the Conference Championship, but if I had a gun to my head, I have to go with Mahomes and the Chiefs.

  • Pick: Chiefs (-2)
  • Prediction: 34-31
  • Bonus: Over 55 Points

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