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Time to stack up the Benjamins in the NFL playoffs divisional round.
Time to stack up the Benjamins in the NFL playoffs divisional round.
Photo by Jack Gorman

NFL Playoffs, Divisional Round: This Weekend's Best Bets

For the last ten seasons, in the NFL's divisional round of the playoffs, home teams have dominated the results, going 30-10 over that stretch. So picking winners straight up should be fairly formulaic. Picking winners against the spread is a different story, as you're going to have to have a pretty strong stomach to back the home teams this weekend, with two of them as nearly double digit favorites, and another at nearly a touchdown. So without further ado, let's get these picks cracking....

49ERS -6.5 over Vikings
We are in uncharted territory now with Kirk Cousins, now that we live in a world where he made all sorts of key throws in a big spot, on the road, against a great football team last weekend in New Orleans. I can't just automatically fade Cousins anymore. Going into that New Orleans game, Cousins was 2-10 SU against teams that were above .500 in his two seasons in Minnesota, so does one game change my outlook? Simply, no. I think the difference here is San Francisco's fearsome pass rush, which will torment Cousins all afternoon, and the Niners will do enough offensively to cover the number.

RAVENS -9.5 over Titans
For all of his regular season accomplishments, both in the books and likely honors after the season, Lamar Jackson is still looking for his first playoff win. Last year, in his rookie season, he lost at home to the Los Angeles Chargers in the wild card round, when the Chargers deployed seven defensive backs all game to have more quickness on the field to chase Jackson. In 2019, though, he's at a whole other level, leading the league in rushing touchdowns AND passing touchdowns. The Ravens' starters have had three weeks of rest, after taking Week 17 off and a bye week last week. The Titans' offensive linchpin, RB Derrick Henry, has carried the ball 66 times in the last two weeks. Time runs out on the Titans here, Ravens roll.

Texans +9.5 over CHIEFS
Look, we here in Houston know as well as anybody that the Texans have been wildly inconsistent all season long. What other playoff team could beat New England on a Sunday night, and then seven days later, turn around and trail Denver at home by 35 in the third quarter? Answer — the Texans, and that is all. On the flip side, the Texans are 4-1 SU and ATS versus the other five AFC playoff teams (not including Week 17 versus the Titans when the Texans rested their starters), which is indicative of their ceiling. I trust Deshaun Watson to keep the Texans within one score, more than enough to cover a 9.5 point spread.

PACKERS -4 over Seahawks
These are two teams that are a little mysterious. The Seahawks limped into the playoffs with a 1-3 SU record down the stretch, and who knows if they beat the Eagles had Jadeveon Clowney not sent Carson Wentz into concussion protocol with a controversial hit to the head. The Packers are the 2-seed, with a 13-3 record on the season, but their second half of the season resume is dotted with one score wins over bad teams. So I'll take the home field plus the Packers ability to rush the passer against a banged up Seahawks offensive line.

LAST WEEK: 1-2-1
SEASON NFL ATS RECORD: 50-54-2 (48.1 percent)

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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