NFL: Sunday’s Divisional Playoffs Betting Preview & Tips


NFL nut Kyle Robins (@AhhYeahKyleYeah) oversees Sunday night's action from Divisional play-offs.

Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs | Sunday 17th January 2021, 20:05 | Sky Sports

The NFL divisional match-ups kicks off Sunday with a game we all would have laughed off as nonsensical, had someone made this projection at the start of the season. But after knocking off the Steelers, the hapless Browns of years past head into Kansas City to take on the defending Super Bowl champs.  And just like last weekend, you’ll be hard tasked to find someone taking the Browns in this matc-hup.

Vegas currently has the line set at 9.5 for this, which for me, leans way too generously in favour of the Browns. Not that I’m complaining, however.

Cleveland has shown they can hold their own with the big boys, and put up a lorry loads of points in doing so. Outside of the 48 they dropped last week on the Steelers, the Browns have put up 42 against Baltimore, 41 in Tennessee and 32 on the Colts.

And whilst Kansas finished 14-2, it wasn’t a season that consisted of many blowouts. In fact, of the 14 games they did win, 5 of those came by double digits, but only 2 since Week 5.

In their last 3 home games (with starters playing), Kansas City has beaten a 4-12 Falcons team by just 3 points, a 5-11 Broncos team by 6, and a 5-11 Panthers team by just 3. Going back even further, the Chiefs haven’t covered a spread as high as 9.5 since way back in week 8, after they blew out the Jets 35-9.

Now yes, with the playoffs comes unpredictability. Just take the Browns game last Sunday for reference. But given how dynamic the Browns offense has been recently, with their ability to both run the ball effectively, and pass when the time calls for. I’m more than happy to jump all over the 1/1 offered with SkyBet for the Browns +9.5.

In case you haven’t already realised, points and touchdowns aplenty should be on the agenda in this matchup. Well, at least I believe so. In the regular season, Kansas put up an average of 29.6 points per game, whilst giving up just short of 23 points per game, at the same time as the Browns averaging 25.5 points and giving up 26.2 per game.

Of course, there’s only so much statistical analysis one can do, and I’m probably on the edge of over analysing already.

What I was looking for in this game, like I usually do in projected high scoring affairs, was the ‘both players to score a touchdown’ market. Unfortunately for us however, SkyBet seem unwilling to combine the two players together I’m looking for in this market, so we may have to venture over to a build a bet market on both Betfair and PaddyPower to combined the two together. And in doing so, we get odds of just over 2/1.

But who you may ask? Well, let’s break it down a little. Since returning in Week 10, Browns running back Nick Chubb has been on an absolute tear, having amassed 9 touchdowns in 9 games. He’s absolutely pivotal to this offense, and against a 26th ranked Kansas run defense, who give up 128.2 yards per game on the ground.

Chubb should be in for another heavy dose of carries and a favourite to get into the endzone. Double the Browns man up with Kansas City’s juggernaut tight end in Travis Kelce, and that’s where we find our double at.

The third round pick from 2013 has evolved into one of the most dangerous playmakers in the entire league. With 11 touchdowns on the year and 4 in his last 4 to round of the season, Kelce set a career high in touchdown receptions.

As his bond with Mahomes grows stronger by the season, Kelce came just 120 yards short of becoming the first tight end in league history to lead the league in receiving yards. He’s scored a touchdown in 6 of his 8 home games this season, and after his 4 touchdowns in the postseason last year, it’s safe to say Kelce is Mahomes go to man in primetime.

Take the 2/1 with Paddy Power for both teams playmakers to turn up when the time calls for it this Sunday evening.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints | Sunday 17th January 2021, 23:40 | Sky Sports

For the third and final time this season, Tom Brady faces off against Drew Brees in the battle of the OAP quarterbacks, as Tampa heads into New Orleans to face the Saints.

After going 0-2 against New Orleans this season, with a combined score of 72-26, the Bucs didn’t really have an answer for the Saints in the regular season, so they’ll be hoping for a change in fortune come Sunday.

In the most recent meeting back in Week 9, the Saints put an absolute beat down on the Bucs, forcing Tom Brady into 3 interceptions and leaving Tampa with a 38-3 victory, so they’re quite rightfully favourites for this game. The line however, which is currently set at 3 points, seems a little generous to the Bucs, especially giving the regular season meetings between the two teams.

A key factor in both those matchups, was New Orleans ability on the defensive side of the ball in stopping Tom Brady. The Saints certainly have one of the better defensive units in the league, but nobody had as much success as they did in stifling the 43-year-old quarterback.

On the flip side, the Bucs had no success whatsoever in slowing down Drew Brees. The other veteran quarterback put up 4 touchdowns in the Week 9 meeting, to go along with his 2 in Week 1, and had no problem in picking apart a poor Bucs secondary.

The one thing Tampa can boast heading into this game is the league’s best run defense. They allow just short of 81 yards per game on the ground, the problem however, arises in the Saints ability to use Alvin Kamara out of the backfield.

In their first matchup in Week 1, Kamara rushed for only 16 yards, but managed to add 5 receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. There’s so many routes this Saints team can attack from, it’s hard for the Bucs to prioritise on one specific area. Whilst I do like the overs for Kamara in this matchup on receptions, with his line currently set at 5.5, I’m leaning towards the Saints other star offensive weapon to come up trumps in this one.

We were just 1 reception off the Michael Thomas overs last weekend, but I’m sticking with the wide out to pull through for us this time. He’s just far too good of a player for Brees not to target in such an important game.

The game plan didn’t figure too much in his favour last weekend, in a game the Saints completed dominated. He did still haul in 5 receptions on 7 targets to go along with a touchdown. I’m banking on him to see double digit targets in a soft matchup with this Bucs secondary. Take the over 6.5 receptions at 1/1 with SkyBet and watch the target share sky rocket for Thomas.

For my next area of attack, I’m diverting away from the ‘both to score a touchdown’ market I usually take on, but instead, heading over to the request a bet area on SkyBet to find some value. And I certainly have in the shape of a 5/1 shot.

Now the thing with this bet, is that is almost goes against everything and all that’s happened in the previous two matchups of these teams. I stress the word ‘almost’. The bet itself consists of Brees & Brady 250+ Pass Yds & 22+ Completions Each, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans & Chris Godwin 50+ Rec Yards Each, topped off with Alvin Kamara to score a touchdown.

If you rewind the tape, neither Drew Brees or Tom Brady has gone over the 250+ passing yards mark in two attempts each, but both have reached the 22 pass completions mark. Brady on two occasions and Brees on one. Obviously, these stats are all just immaterial and the game script could play out totally different on Sunday.

What I’m taking into account is Brady’s absolute tear he’s been on in this latter part of the season, going over 340+ passing yards in four consecutive games. Building some real chemistry with his star-studded wide receiver corps. Chris Godwin has hauled in 15 receptions off 28 targets these past three games, going over 75+ yards in each, whilst Evans has 25 receptions off 33 targets in his last 4 outings, topping 100+ yards in three of those.

I don’t need to dive into Thomas stats any more than I already have, but he’s gone over 50+ yards in each of his last five games, after topping it in just one of his first 3. Like I said before, he’s too important to not be involved, and should easily clear 50 yards in this one.

It finally wraps off with Alvin Kamara getting into the endzone. The duel threat running back has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last 5 games, and 8 of his last 9 dating back to Week 8. As well as that, he already has touchdowns in both games against the Bucs this year, and given his dynamic ability in the red zone, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of opportunities to find the end zone yet again in this one.

At 5/1 with SkyBet, I certainly like the look of this one, and given I’m only slightly dubious about the Brees passing yards. With how good the Bucs run defense is, we could certainly see a pass heavy game plan employed for both teams.

Best Bets

Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs – Cleveland Browns +9.5 (1/1 SkyBet)

Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs – Travis Kelce and Nick Chubb both to score a Touchdown (2/1 Paddy Power)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints – Michael Thomas over 6.5 receptions (1/1 SkyBet)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees and Tom Brady 250+ Pass Yards and 22+ Completions Each, M.Thomas, M.Evans and C.Godwin 50+ Receiving  Yards Each and A.Kamara 1+ TD (5/1 SkyBet)

About Author

I think like most 17-year-olds, especially with my group of mates at the time, we spent most Saturday mornings outside the bookies waiting for the older lot to put our 50p, 20-fold accas on. Most of my early betting experience comes from football, but that soon developed into the NFL and in more recent years NBA, as their markets expanded. Betting on the both the NBA and NFL, for me, are much more statistical-based. I find it easier to determine some markets with these leagues than I do with football. Especially in the NBA. I’ve been a Tottenham season ticket folder since I can remember, and I’m sure my dad would have kicked me out the house had I not been. With NFL, since the 2004 Superbowl loss to the Patriots, I’ve been a Carolina Panthers fan, as well as following the Orlando Magic in the NBA.

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