NFL Picks Divisional Round (Sunday Games) (2022 regular season)
NFL PICKS (DIVISIONAL ROUND - SUNDAY GAMES)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Tuesday January 17th, 2023 at 11 am Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Last week, my NFL picks for the Wild Card Round yielded a 3-3 record against the spread. Not a great outcome, nor a bad one. Now, let’s go for a 3-1 record, or perhaps a perfect 4-0 record this weekend, shall we?
In this article, I will unveil my best bets regarding the Divisional Round games to be played on Sunday, while in another post I will discuss the remaining two games.
Are you ready for some football?
DIVISIONAL ROUND GAME #3: CINCINNATI BENGALS AT BUFFALO BILLS
In this key AFC matchup, my top pick is as follows: Under 24.5 points to be scored in the first half.
The Bengals were just one of two teams to field the same five offensive linemen through the first 15 games of the regular season. However, the unit has been ravaged by injuries since then: they have lost three starters over the past three weeks, including some of their top players. Indeed, left tackle Jonah Williams, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins are all hurt and unlikely to suit up this Sunday.
Those injuries will definitely have a big impact on Cincinnati’s offense. They are unlikely to be as effective as usual, even though Buffalo’s defense has not been playing as well recently. They ranked 7th in the NFL in terms of the famous EPA statistic over the entire season, but if you only focus on the second half of the year they finished 16th in the league.
I believe the Bengals’ gameplan will be to run the ball more often, while also making shorter throws to avoid Burrow getting sacked too often. These two strategies bode well when betting the under since it should milk the clock more quickly.
Meanwhile, Josh Allen has been taking shots down the field like a mad man recently. It has not worked all that great, given he has turned the ball over 16 times in his past 12 games. In fact, he led all quarterbacks in the NFL for the number of giveaways during the 2022 regular season. You’ve got to believe that head coach Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will ask Josh Allen to reduce the number of deep throws, while trying to make shorter completions instead. Again, that would be good news when taking the under in this game.
It is interesting to note that Cincinnati’s last 9 playoff games have led to an 8-1 record for the under, but it has gone 0-4 in Buffalo’s past four matches in the postseason.
Given my expectations about the Bills being more conservative to stop turning the ball over so often, and Cincinnati’s depleted offensive line, I am confident that less than 24.5 points will be scored by halftime.
I chose to take the under in the FIRST HALF only, rather than the full game, simply as a matter of preference. Sometimes, weird stuff happens in the fourth quarter, or the game goes to overtime which screws your bet, so I prefer to restrict this bet to the first half, personally.
Pick: Under 24.5 points first half Bengals vs Bills
DIVISIONAL ROUND GAME #4: DALLAS COWBOYS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The bet I like the most in this awesome game is the Dallas Cowboys team total to go over 20.5 points. That may sound like a bold prediction given how great San Francisco’s defense has played this season, but I like this wager nonetheless.
First, I was not impressed by the way San Francisco’s defense played last week. They allowed 332 total yards and 23 points to a Seattle offense that had scored an average of 16 points over its prior four games.
Moreover, the Cowboys’ offense has exceeded 20.5 points in 14 of its 18 games this season, even though Cooper Rush started five games. That means 78% of their games have led to their team total going over 20.5 points, which is quite impressive.
The Dallas offense is well-balanced with a nice mix of runs and passes. They can beat you both ways, so I believe they will find ways to keep San Francisco’s defense on their toes.
The 49ers have an offense that can score quickly with so many playmakers like Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk. Quick scores by San Francisco would be good for this bet because you don’t want them to sustain long drives. Lots of points by the Niners will force the Cowboys to retaliate with many points of their own. We don’t want a defensive battle, and I do not believe that’s what we’re going to get.
Dallas will be looking to avenge a 23-17 home loss last year in the playoffs against those same Niners. I have to admit I’m a bit worried about the Cowboys playing a fourth consecutive game on the road, while San Francisco will be at home for a third week in a row. And hopefully, Brett Maher won’t miss four extra points as he did last week against Tampa Bay! I don’t recall witnessing such a poor performance by a kicker ever. That was embarrassing!
Pick: Dallas Cowboys team total over 20.5 points
That’s it for my NFL picks regarding the Sunday games of the Divisional Round, I hope to see you again in my second article in which I’m going to reveal my top picks for the SATURDAY games.
Bye bye my friend!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)