Following a fascinating Wild Card Weekend, we have four more intriguing matchups in this coming weekend’s Divisional Round. With three of the four games already set as of Sunday afternoon, here’s our take on each matchup and opening line.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
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The Vikings became the second road team to pull an upset in Wild Card Weekend when they upended the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The 49ers opened as seven-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook and that line quickly moved to a 6.5-point projected advantage Sunday afternoon. It will likely hover around the key number all week.
While Minnesota’s road upset of New Orleans was undeniably impressive, it isn’t difficult to imagine the number creeping up further or holding steady at minimum over the course of the week. The rest advantage for the 49ers is sure to be factored in, as well. The Niners’ elite home defense and their 6-2 regular-season record at Levi Stadium will also play in their favor.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The 49ers remain a firm seven-point favorite less than 24 hours before kickoff. Frankly, it’s somewhat surprising the outlook isn’t even bleaker, considering Adam Thielen is legitimately questionable with an ankle injury he suffered in Wednesday’s practice when he was inadvertently spiked. Because Thielen has stitches, there is legitimate danger to an extent if he takes the field. Neither team has wowed in the home/road splits that apply Saturday — the 49ers were 3-4-1 ATS as home favorites, while the Vikings were 2-2 versus the number as road dogs.
Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens
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The Titans are the Vikings’ AFC counterpart, a wild card squad that went into an extremely difficult road environment and upended a home squad helmed by a future Hall of Fame quarterback this weekend. However, they, too, find that this didn’t exactly earn them an avalanche of respect from the oddsmakers or the betting public.
The Titans checked in as 9.5-point dogs on DraftKings Sportsbook at open and the line has hovered around that number all week. Much like the 49ers, the Ravens are viewed as nearly invincible at home, especially in a high-stakes game like this one. Baltimore was an even better home team than San Francisco record-wise, as evidenced by a 7-1 home mark. The cornerstones of Tennessee’s team – a power running attack and a strong defense – travels well in the playoffs. However, the Lamar Jackson Effect could certainly have a big grip on the public’s perception and keep this line at its current elevated figure, at minimum.
FRIDAY UPDATE: As suspected, the Ravens enter the weekend still holding strong as 9.5-point favorites. Both Mark Ingram and Mark Andrews carry questionable designations into gameday due to calf and ankle injuries, respectively. However, as per late-week reports, both are expected to take the field against Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Titans will still be missing slot receiver Adam Humphries (ankle), but they’re rather accustomed to playing without him considering he last took the field Week 13. The arguably more significant absence this week will be that of starting linebacker Jaylon Brown, who will miss Saturday night’s game with a shoulder injury. Brown racked up 105 tackles across 14 regular-season games, and his injury is likely to have an even more averse effect considering the monumental challenge that is trying to contain Jackson.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
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It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but the Texans escaped with an overtime win against the Bills on Saturday. However, their inconsistencies throughout the season and the Chiefs’ rest advantage and high-octane offense still saw Houston open as 9.5-point underdogs at both DraftKings and FanDuel sportsbooks. This, despite Houston having upended Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium by a 31-24 score back in Week 6.
Much like Jackson in Baltimore, Patrick Mahomes naturally carries a significant amount of weight with the betting public, as does the general perception of Arrowhead as an exceedingly difficult place to play. That said, it’s worth noting KC dropped two of three of its home games this past regular season, and none of its three victories over teams with a winning record was by more than seven points.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The Texans remain 9.5-point underdogs as of Friday night, with the betting public supporting the Chiefs all week. Travis Kelce does carry a questionable designation for Kansas City, but multiple Friday reports indicate that there’s virtually no doubt Kelce will fill his usual role without restriction. Included was a glowing account from head coach Andy Reid himself of Kelce’s Friday practice performance. The news isn’t quite as rosy on the Houston side. Will Fuller remains very questionable with the groin injury that caused him to miss last Saturday’s wild-card win over the Bills. He practiced in limited fashion all week, but reports indicate he’s still not fully healthy and his availability will ultimately be determined by the team’s coaching and medical staff. Then, third wideout and potential Fuller replacement Kenny Stills is also questionable due to a knee injury. If neither is able to play, Deshaun Watson could be faced with the prospect of trying to keep up with Mahomes with the equivalent of one hand tied behind his back.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
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The Seahawks became the third road team to advance past the opening round with their late-afternoon 17-9 win over a short-handed Eagles squad Sunday. Seattle now travels to Lambeau for this contest that will close out the Divisional Round. The Packers were installed as four-point favorites at both FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook late Sunday night and climbed to 4.5 as of Friday afternoon.
These two squads did not meet during this past regular season, but Seattle comes into the contest with an 8-1 road mark straight up, including Sunday’s win against Philadelphia. Russell Wilson is 0-3 during at Lambeau Field during his career, however. All three losses came between the 2015 and 2017 campaigns. Additionally, Seattle has now scored 21 or fewer points in four of the past five games overall. Then, six of the Packers’ seven wins at home this season were by more than the current projected four-point advantage, although it was often a close call – half of those were wins of between five and eight points.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The number holds at 4.5 points in favor of the Packers as we head into the weekend. Green Bay is not only the more well-rested squad, but unsurprisingly the healthier one as well. The Seahawks have their depleted backfield to deal with; to make matters worse, they also have three offensive lineman carrying questionable designations. And on the other side of the ball, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah is questionable with a neck injury. Worth noting is the fact Seattle was an impressive 4-1 ATS as a road underdog this season, but Green Bay boasted a 5-3 mark (62.5 percent) versus the number itself as a home favorite.