NFL Picks Against The Spread: Divisional Playoffs

NFL picks against the spread are the bread and butter fun predictions for any expert or bettor during the season.

Every weekend experts and fans alike put their reputations on the line by making their predictions for every game.

Picking and betting against the spread is one of the most fun ways to bet on NFL games. It is the ultimate in ensuring parity. Everybody starts at pretty much the same odds.

One team is favored by a specific points margin thanks to Vegas and those online sportsbooks. If you pick that team they must win by more than that margin for you to collect. If you pick the underdog, the baseline for you to win is they must lose by less than that margin.

You can check out our full guide to NFL betting, which has more intel on ATS and all the other popular and best NFL bets.

NFL Picks Against The Spread – Divisional Playoffs

Coming off a 4-2 record in Super Wild Card Weekend, we are now on to the Divisional Playoff round and we have four terrific matchups to look forward to this weekend.

Here is our take on how things will go ATS as the road to Super Bowl LVI hots up:

Saturday January 22, 2022

Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 @ Tennessee Titans -3.5 – 4.30pm ET (CBS)

Most of the talk before kickoff in Nashville will center on the likely return of Derrick Henry – but in reality it’s not the storyline which really matters here.

Henry was in MVP form when he was ruled out in October for the regular season. He should be back against Cincinnati after recovering from foot surgery, but it’s difficult to imagine – Superman though he is – that he’ll be at 100% health yet.

No, the real question here is whether the Titans pass rush can slow down the ridiculous late-season form of Bengals QB Joe Burrow. The 2020 first overall pick has been terrific in recent weeks – throwing for just under 1000 yards and 8 scores in two (TWO) games vs Baltimore and Kansas City as Cincy clinched the AFC North.

Burrow was again the difference last weekend as the Bengals held off the Raiders in Wild Card play, and his hookup with former LSU BFF Ja’Marr Chase is one of the most dynamic aerial threats in the NFL today.

It’s not just Chase either – the likes of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd add up to a powerful array of weapons with which Burrow can carve up opposing defenses.

Joe Burrow Cincinnati Bengals 2021
Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow is red-hot going into Saturday’s showdown in Tennessee.

Tennessee meanwhile has been stellar in 2021, somehow clinching the #1 seed in the AFC despite a ton of injuries to key players – notably Henry.

Ryan Tannehill generally does not win games with his arm alone, and injuries to Julio Jones and A.J. Brown have just amplified the issues for the Titans passing game.

Tennessee HC Mike Vrabel is rightly earning consideration for Coach Of The Year honors after an incredible job this year, and if this game is a low-scoring slugfest then Titans win. Except we don’t think it will be.

If this one develops into a shootout, can the Titans really keep up with Burrow, Chase et al? Highly unlikely. Unless the Tennessee front is in Joe’s face all day, it could be a long one for the locals in Nashville.

Make no mistake, Burrow’s performance drops off significantly when he is pressured, and that is the key. We expect him to avoid the rush and help Cincy advance to the AFC Championship game for the first time in what feels like a century.

OddsCritic Pick Against The Spread: Bengals +3.5

San Francisco 49ers +5.5 @ Green Bay Packers – 8.15pm ET (FOX)

Terrific game this, and a really tough one to call as two of the NFL’s iconic franchises duke it out on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

The Niners and their brilliantly exotic scheme head into Wisconsin on the back of a terrific Wild Card win over the Cowboys in Dallas.

That 23-17 success in Arlington came off the back of winning up front on both sides of the ball. Dallas could not stop Deebo Samuel on the ground and could not protect Dak Prescott. Cue another year of playoff futility in ‘Big D’.

San Fran does have a couple of major injury concerns ahead of this one – with Nick Bosa suffering a head injury and Fred Warner injuring an ankle in Dallas. Warner should be good to go, while HC Kyle Shanahan says it is “looking good” for Bosa to clear concussion protocol.

The Packers open up their playoff campaign after enjoying a bye on Wild Card Weekend, and their 2021 has been stellar so far. Also they have cavalry arriving to boost a roster which overachieved despite a ton of injuries.

LT David Bakhtiari, RT Billy Turner, edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and CB Jaire Alexander are set to be back and will give this team an incredible shot in the arm ahead of its biggest game of the year so far.

We expect San Fran to have success on the ground, as they did in Dallas, with the unstoppable Deebo Samuel a powerful weapon again. The big question though is can the 49ers keep score with Aaron Rodgers and the GB offense.

The 49ers secondary is not good, and it really needs a healthy Bosa to get in the face of Rodgers early and often. Aaron is expected to repeat as league MVP next week – and has 37 TD passes vs just 2 INTs since Week 1 – incredible.

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers has been terrific again in 2021.

Green Bay has nice balance now offensively, and the Rodgers to Davante Adams partnership is tough to stop. That should be the key to this game. The gulf between Rodgers and opposite number Jimmy Garoppolo is seismic.

Garoppolo looked pretty good last week before throwing a crucial pick which almost allowed Dallas to stage a late comeback. Do you really trust him not to make a crucial mistake this weekend? Nope, us neither.

San Fran get a pretty handy 5.5-point start vs the spread, but despite that we expect the Packers to gradually gain control and win by a touchdown after a terrific game. GB to cover.

OddsCritic Pick Against The Spread: Packers -5.5

Sunday January 23, 2022

Los Angeles Rams +3 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 – 3pm ET (NBC)

Big question marks face the Bucs as they continue their title defense with a tough home game vs the surging Rams on Sunday afternoon.

Tampa easily overcame Philadelphia on Wild Card Weekend, but it lost a couple of really key pieces in the process. RT Tristan Wirfs and C Ryan Jensen both suffered ankle injuries and at the time of writing have yet to practise this week.

While it’s eminently possible both will suit up Sunday, if they are hobbled they could be fresh meat for the likes of Aaron Donald and Von Miller. Donald in particular is an incredible force, the biggest game changer in the NFL today on the defensive side of the ball.

Aaron Donald Los Angeles Rams 2021
Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald is a bona fide wrecking ball.

The Ram offense meanwhile looked really good in routing Arizona 34-11 on Monday Night Football. As well as the bountiful passing options for Matthew Stafford, RB Cam Akers looked good after making an astonishing return just a few months after tearing his Achilles.

While it is tough to pick against Brady – really tough in the postseason – that bid for an eighth ring will come to an end on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.

OddsCritic Pick Against The Spread: Rams +3

Buffalo Bills +2 @ Kansas City Chief -2 – 6.30pm ET (CBS)

What a way to finish a weekend of stellar games – this one should be a beauty, worthy of Super Bowl status.

It is of course a year since the Chiefs defeated the Bills by 14 to advance to Super Bowl LV, but since then Buffalo has just gotten better – including a 38-20 win at Arrowhead earlier in 2021.

This Buffalo team which arrives in Missouri on Sunday is the hottest in the league right now – coming off an incredible 47-17 demolition of Bill Belichick’s Patriots in Wild Card Weekend.

Josh Allen NFL MVP Odds 2021 Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen goes head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes in a stellar Sunday matchup.

It’s unprecedented to see a Belichick defense taken apart like that – the Bills became the first in league history to play a perfect offensive game. Seven possessions brought seven touchdowns. No punts, no field goals and no turnovers.

KC of course is not too shabby either – losing only once since a worrying 3-4 start which was punctuated by uncharacteristic mistakes from Patrick Mahomes. The offense is starting to look good again while the defense has been a huge bonus since the early weeks of the season. From one of the league’s worst to one of the best – almost overnight.

We expect a close game and a high-scoring game, a beauty for the nation to watch on CBS. And we expect one Josh Allen to be the difference.

The winner of this one is whoever plays best at the game’s most vital position – Allen or Patrick Mahomes. We take Josh, who is starting to show he is worth every cent of that $258million contract extension.

OddsCritic Pick Against The Spread: Bills +2

NB: All spreads correct on Friday January 21, 2022

NFL Teams Records Against The Spread 2021 – who is best?

Just because a team is top of its division, it doesn’t always follow that team will be great against the spread.

Using the same logic, a team with a terrible W/L record can be great at covering the spread on a weekly basis – while still losing games.

Take Dan Campbell’s overachieving Detroit Lions in 2021. Before this thing kicked off in September, online sportsbooks were offering odds on whether they would finish 0-17 or not. Well eventually they finished with a 3-13-1 record. But if you look at Detroit’s record against the spread, you’ll find a story of a tough team which is well coached and never quits.

The end result was an 11-6 record against the spread, one of the league’s best. Yes they normally lose, but they also play above the lowly expectations sportsbooks have.

Another interesting study is Arizona. The Cardinals are absolutely stellar on the road – 8-1 on the season. But their record at home ATS stinks. No bad thing then maybe that the road to SoFi in February will not go through Glendale.

TeamHomeRoadOverall
Dallas Cowboys5-38-113-4
Green Bay Packers7-15-312-5
Detroit Lions6-25-411-6
Buffalo Bills4-3-25-39-6-2
Arizona Cardinals2-68-110-7
Indianapolis Colts4-56-210-7
New England Patriots5-45-310-7
Tennessee Titans6-34-410-7
Cincinnati Bengals4-56-210-7
Miami Dolphins5-44-2-18-7-1
New Orleans Saints2-56-39-8
Seattle Seahawks4-45-49-8
San Francisco 49ers4-45-49-8
Minnesota Vikings4-45-49-8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers6-23-69-8
Philadelphia Eagles3-4-15-48-8-1
Kansas City Chiefs4-54-48-9
Las Vegas Raiders4-54-48-9
Los Angeles Chargers4-54-48-9
Denver Broncos5-43-58-9
Los Angeles Rams4-44-58-9
Pittsburgh Steelers4-54-48-9
Baltimore Ravens5-43-58-9
Houston Texans5-43-58-9
Washington Football Team3-54-4-17-9-1
Cleveland Browns3-64-47-10
Atlanta Falcons0-75-3-16-10-1
New York Giants3-53-66-11
New York Jets4-52-56-11
Chicago Bears3-53-66-11
Carolina Panthers2-63-65-12
Jacksonville Jaguars2-62-65-12

Do NFL computer picks always win?

Again, simple answer – sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Computer picks obviously use statistical data and an algorithm, so they are based generally on fact – good thing.

The other plus point is that they have no inbuilt mental bias. Ask a guy in the street and he might just not like the Patriots – that is likely to influence his picks just a little. Even if he wouldn’t admit it.

Can you win betting Against The Spread?

Absolutely you can, but it does take some research and sometimes a little luck.

Always check out the ATS records of the teams you are betting – particularly at home or on the road.

Yet again, we’d advise you to monitor injury reports, COVID reserve lists and weather. These can all factor heavily into what the spread looks like pre-game, and how the scenario then plays out for real.