Will the upsets in the NFL Playoffs continue? In the Wildcard Round, underdogs went 4 and 0 against the spread. Underdogs also went 2 and 0 straight up when Tennessee beat Kansas City, and Atlanta beat the L.A. Rams. Could the NFL Divisional Round see another batch of upsets? I think so. I don’t believe ATS dogs go 4 and 0 this weekend. I do believe ATS dogs go 3 and 1, though. Keep reading to find out why!
2018 NFL Divisional Round Underdog Picks
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
When: Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8:15 pm ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Odds: Tennessee +14
Analysis: Giving up 14 points in a playoff game is ludicrous. Sure, if any team can dominate in the playoffs, it’s the New England Patriots. I don’t believe they will. In fact, I think Tennessee’s got a shot to beat New England straight up.
New England’s last loss during the regular season was to the rival Miami Dolphins. The Fins played great defense while rushing the football with Kenyan Drake, a former Alabama Crimson Tide. Miami beat New England 27 to 20. Drake rushed for 114 yards.
The Patriots also allowed QB Jay Cutler to throw 3 TD passes. On Saturday, the Pats face a team built a lot like Miami. The main wrinkle is that Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota took a huge step forward when leading the Titans to a 22 to 21 upset win over KC after being down by 18 points at halftime.
I think Tennessee keeps it desperately close. Who knows? Mariota might find some magic at Foxboro and the Titans pull off the money line upset.
Pick: Tennessee +14
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh
When: Sunday, Jan. 14 at 1:05 pm ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Odds: Jacksonville +7.5
Analysis: Pittsburgh is ridiculously awful at covering the spread. The Steelers went 7 and 1 straight up in their final 8 games of the season. They went 2 and 6 against the spread in those 8 games.
Like Tennessee, Jacksonville has a good shot of beating their favored opponent straight up in the NFL Divisional Round. The Jaguars boast the top pass defense in the NFL. The Jags’ pass defense allows 169.9 passing yards per game.
Although Pitt’s top player on offense, WR Antonio Brown, should play on Sunday, there’s a good chance Jaguars’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey shuts him down. If that happens, Big Ben Roethlisberger might start getting out of control again.
The Jags picked Ben off 5 times in their 30 to 9 win over Pittsburgh in Week 5. I don’t believe the Jags beat the Steelers by 21 points on Jan. 14. I do believe they beat Pittsburgh straight up.
Pick: Jacksonville +7.5
New Orleans at Minnesota
When: Sunday, Jan. 14 at 4:40 pm ET
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota, MN
Odds: New Orleans +3.5
Analysis: The Minnesota Vikings were the most consistent team in the NFL during the regular season. The Vikings found multiple ways to win. One thing that bothers me about Minnesota is their strength of schedule.
The Vikings played in an ultimately weak division. Not only that, but they also got to battle Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. Minnesota’s just not as battle tested as the New Orleans Saints.
I also question whether QB Case Keenum can find the same success in the playoffs as he did during the regular season. I’m going with New Orleans.
Pick: New Orleans +3.5