Well, we made it. Welcome to the best weekend of the NFL season.
These are the games we remember with plays immortalized. The Immaculate Reception. The Hail Mary. The Tuck Rule. Heroes like Ed Podolak, Dave Casper and Freddie Mitchell emerge from the rank and file.
For some, it’s the first step to greater glory. Others carry the losses like scars on their psyche. For every Minnesota Miracle, there’s a Red Right 88 that lives in infamy. For every Kellen Winslow who leaves the field a hero, there’s a Dez Bryant tied to controversial defeat.
There’s no guarantee we will have anything legendary happen this round. Each game, however, brings its own history to each matchup. We’ll touch on that as well in this article.
Divisional Round Betting Lines
(Odds updated 1/11/19)
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5)
Two gunslingers with high-powered offenses kick off the weekend at Arrowhead Stadium. Indy has won 10 of its last 11 games this season, including an upset on the road against Houston to advance in the postseason. Kansas City played like the class of the AFC all year, led by MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes.
Andrew Luck enters 2-0 at KC in his career and won the only postseason matchup. The Chiefs haven’t done well in the playoffs at home recently: their last win at Arrowhead in the postseason was in 1994, the previous year they also won in this round. The franchise enters 2-8 in this round historically, dating back to the AFL days.
At the sportsbooks in New Jersey, there was some agreement on pricing but also some value on Monday morning. William Hill and BetStars had a half-point extra value on the Chiefs. Caesars and PlayMGM had that and a half-point extra value on the over, which is by far the biggest total of the weekend.
Playoff memories: The only time these two teams met was the Wild Card weekend in 2014. KC built up a 38-10 lead early in the third quarter. Luck brought the Colts back with three TD passes, capped by a 64-yard bomb to T.Y. Hilton to finish a 45-44 shootout in Indy.
Dallas Cowboys at LA Rams (-7)
This matchup might be the game of the weekend. The teams match up well at each position group. Each has stars and has played really well down the stretch.
LA won the last matchup in 2017, winning 35-30 at Jerryworld. Dallas looks awfully different this season, notably with Amari Cooper taking the lead receiver role vacated by Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys haven’t been able to win a divisional round game since their Super Bowl runs. QB Dak Prescott lost his playoff debut in this round two years ago to the Packers. Dallas has lost the last seven postseason road games, dating back to 1993.
Most of the books had early agreement on prices for this game. William Hill and Caesars put a half-point extra value on the under, while PlayMGM gave a half-point to the home favorites.
Playoff memories: This was a fierce postseason rivalry in the ’70s. They met six times between 1973 and 1980, with Dallas winning four. Both Rams’ wins came in the divisional round, including a 21-19 win at Texas Stadium in 1979, where Vince Ferragamo found Billy Waddy for a 50-yard strike to win it in the fourth quarter.
LA Chargers at New England Patriots (-4)
Despite having the same 12-4 record as their division rivals, LA goes cross country for the second straight week of the postseason. This time, it’s to Foxboro to face Tom Brady and the AFC East stalwarts.
New England has won the last four regular-season meetings, including a 21-13 decision last year in October. Overall, the Pats have been excellent in this round, with a franchise record of 15-6. Their recent loss at home at this stage? Go back to 1979 against the Luv Ya Blue Oilers.
Philip Rivers has struggled in this round, going 1-4 overall. He did win that one game on the road, defeating the Colts in 2008.
There was some betting value to be found in this matchup on Monday. FanDuel Sportsbook, William Hill, PlayMGM and BetStars all put a half-point extra value on the over. Only Caesars had a half-point value on the line, which they give the Pats.
Playoff memories: Marty Schottenheimer seemed to always find himself on the short end of many playoff sticks. In 2007, he led the 14-2 Chargers to the top seed of the AFC and hosted the Pats in San Diego. LT scored to make it 21-13 midway through the fourth. Tom Brady would not be denied, leading two late scoring drives, including a field goal in the final two minutes, to steal a 24-21 decision and get his team to another AFC Championship.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-8)
Yep, Nick Foles pulled another miracle out of his sack in Chicago. The defending champs live to fight another weekend, which means a trip to the Superdome.
New Orleans manhandled Philly earlier this year, dropping the Birds to 4-6 and looking unfit for the postseason. The NFC’s top seed hasn’t looked as sharp since that game but has managed to win their division and lean on their defense.
The Saints have done well at home recently against the Eagles. While games have been infrequent, they won the last two, dating back to 2012. When Drew Brees is on his game, he can pick apart virtually any defense. Philly’s ragtag secondary could be susceptible to the MVP candidate.
Can Nick Foles do better than the one touchdown Carson Wentz scored in the Week 11 matchup? This is the only team who’s managed to solve him in the playoffs, but that Saints team in 2014 had Darren Sproles on their side. Now he’s with the Eagles, as is Big Mo following the comeback in Chi-town.
This game is for value hunters. There was virtually no agreement on pricing on Monday. FanDuel, William Hill and BetStars all offered a half-point extra value on the under. Caesars offered a full point on the under. The line dropped from Saints -9 overnight and will most likely move further during the week. Both teams have been big draws for bettors over the season, so this could be the biggest handle game to date.
Playoff memories: The Saints are 2-1 all-time against the Eagles in the playoffs. Their first divisional round win came in 2007 against Philly, in a 27-24 win. Saints fans remember the two Deuce McAllister touchdowns that sealed the third-quarter comeback. Eagles fans remember the vicious open-field tackle Sheldon Brown unleashed on Reggie Bush early in the game. Good times.