NFL Divisional Round Playoff Tips: Ravens and 49ers return as the knockouts continue

By Tom Collins

Latest NFL Odds

19 January 2024

We swiftly move onto the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs as just eight teams remain in the fight to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

Three underdogs (Texans, Packers and Buccaneers) progressed through the Wildcard round last week, all by shocking multi-touchdown scores. Will we see more upsets this weekend? I have my say below.

Houston Texans (+9.5) @ Baltimore Ravens (-9.5)

Kick-off: 9.30pm Saturday GMT

Following their Wildcard Round bye, the Baltimore Ravens return to action with a home game against the Texans. Houston wowed onlookers by destroying the Cleveland Browns seven days ago and impressive rookie quarterback CJ Stroud will be hoping his young team can continue to surprise by knocking out the AFC top seeds.

Given I have backed the Ravens to win this year’s Super Bowl, I don’t think that will be the case. Baltimore may be a little rusty in the first quarter as they have had two weeks off, but I expect their rushing attack to click into gear and punish an opposing defence that allowed three touchdowns on the ground in their week one match-up.

All eyes will be on Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, but dual purpose quarterback Lamar Jackson has averaged 5.5 yards per carry this season and should have his number called on a fair few occasions in the red zone now that the handbrake is off.

Prediction: Lamar Jackson anytime touchdown @ 10/11

Green Bay Packers (+9.5) @ San Francisco 49ers (-9.5)

Kick-off: 1.15am Sunday GMT

Go Pack Go! The reward for a heroic and dominant victory over the Dallas Cowboys is the chance to face the NFC top seeds in their hometown as Green Bay travels to San Francisco for Saturday night’s Primetime game. They are once again overlooked in the market (9.5pt underdogs) but lightning has been known to strike twice.

Putting my bias to one side, I fully expect the 49ers to assert their dominance in the second half. Christian McCaffrey has proved virtually unstoppable this season, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are yards-after-catch merchants, and their defence is far from porous. 

But perhaps the best bet here is Jayden Reed to secure over 3.5 receptions. He was used as eye candy last week, but the rookie receiver had surpassed this number in nine of his previous 10 games and should be part of Matt LaFleur’s offensive plans.

Prediction: Jayden Reed over 3.5 receptions @ 3/4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) @ Detroit Lions (-6.5)

Kick-off: 8pm Sunday GMT

Two first overall quarterback draft picks facing off against one another after a tumultuous time in the league. Who will come out on top: Jared Goff or Baker Mayfield? Give me Goff all day long. He’s healthier and, quite frankly, better.

This Lions offence can outscore the majority of teams in the National Football League and I loved their defensive grit in a close game against the LA Rams seven days ago. No matter how this game pans out, I expect the Lions to progress. That being said, there’s little value in backing them outright here and I don’t like the handicap number (-6), so I’ll take a shot at an anytime touchdown scorer.

Alabama product Jameson Williams is the guy in question at a tasty price. He has only found the endzone on two occasions this season, but one of those came against the Bucs in October. Williams is a major home-run threat thanks to his blistering speed and Tampa have been weak in the secondary all campaign, so this looks the right time to take a deep shot.

Prediction: Jameson Williams anytime touchdown @ 13/5

Kansas City Chiefs (+2.5) @ Buffalo Bills (-2.5)

Kick-off: 11.30pm Sunday GMT

Patrick Mahomes is a two-time Super Bowl MVP winner and has made 15 post-season appearances, but this marks the first road playoff game in his career. He doesn’t have the same firepower at his mercy that he’s had in previous years but Rashee Rice, Isiah Pacheco and Travis Kelce are all capable of making plays.

This game feels a bit like a coin flip. Perhaps the Bills have the slight advantage by being at home, but you should never write Mahomes off. I’ll stick to my customary Chiefs playoff bet by backing Kelce to score a touchdown. Hopefully ‘big 87’ celebrates his 17th career post-season score.

Prediction: Travis Kelce anytime touchdown @ 11/10

NFL Divisional Round Playoff Tips

Texans @ Ravens: Lamar Jackson anytime touchdown @ 10/11
Packers @ 49ers: Jayden Reed over 3.5 receptions @ 3/4
Buccaneers @ Lions: Jameson Williams anytime touchdown @ 13/5
Chiefs @ Bills: Travis Kelce anytime touchdown @ 11/10

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