NFL Divisional Round Predictions and Picks Against the Spread: Should You Back Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen in Buffalo?

In our NFL Divisional Round predictions, PFN's Kyle Soppe and David Bearman give their picks for every playoff game, including a winner for Chiefs vs. Bills.

We’re now in the Divisional Round of the 2024 NFL postseason, with eight teams remaining. In our NFL Divisional Round predictions, PFN’s Kyle Soppe and David Bearman give their best bets for every game this weekend.

Will Josh Allen get revenge over Patrick Mahomes? Can Lamar Jackson shake off the narratives about him in the postseason? Our analysts break it all down with NFL betting picks for the Divisional Round.

NFL Divisional Round Predictions and Expert Picks

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Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction

  • Spread
    Ravens -9
  • Moneyline
    Texans +320, Ravens -400
  • Total

Soppe: The Ravens’ defense isn’t one to mess with; it’s really that simple. They were the top-scoring unit in the league this season and the best among playoff teams on a per-play basis. They are a bottom-10 team in both blitz and pressure rate, instead preferring to take their medicine in the short pass game and dare opponents to kill them with 1,000 paper cuts.

This season, Baltimore has allowed opponents to post a 40.3 passer rating on deep passes. That’s not just the lowest mark this season; it’s the third-best over the past nine seasons.

Nico Collins is a bonafide big play threat, but with Tank Dell and Noah Brown both on IR, the Ravens should be positioned to focus on preventing him from the splash play. In 2023, Collins has seven games with multiple deep receptions and nine without…

  • With (7 games): 49 catches for 980 yards and 7 TDs (140 yards/game)
  • Without (9 games): 37 catches for 413 yards and 2 TDs (45.9 yards/game)

In those nine games without multiple deep receptions, Collins hasn’t cleared 80 yards once and has been held to 65 or less even times. I love where this Texans team is headed long-term; this is just a difficult matchup for an offense operating at less than full strength.

Pick: Nico Collins under 82.5 receiving yards (-114 at FanDuel)

Bearman: I could not have been more wrong about the Texans last weekend as I thought the Browns’ league-leading defense could stop a rookie quarterback, even one as good as C.J. Stroud.

Now, this young Texans team will travel to face the top-seeded Ravens and their top-10 defense.

This is a lot of points to lay, but the Ravens won by double digits in nine of their 13 wins, including in Week 1 over the Texans. Houston proved last week that they’re up for the playoff challenge, and considering the Ravens’ lack of postseason success with Lamar Jackson, I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept it close.

The Ravens’ biggest improvement this season has been on offense under Todd Monken. Excluding Week 18’s scrimmage, the Ravens scored at least 20 points in 11 straight games to end the season. For the season, they finished fourth in scoring at 28.4 PPG.

Not only does Baltimore have a strong offense, but we saw the Texans put up a ton of points last week themselves. I expect points in this one.

Pick: Over 43.5 (-110 at DraftKings)

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers Prediction

  • Spread
    49ers -9
  • Moneyline
    Packers +360, 49ers -450
  • Total

Soppe: The 49ers are a big favorite in this spot and part of that is how their passing game matches up with the Packers. For the season, Green Bay creates pressure at the sixth highest rate, a defensive style that a quick-striking San Francisco pass game could dismantle in short order.

But wait, there’s more. The Packers rank 25th in opponent completion percentage when pressured and 24th in opponent aDOT (average depth of target) in those pressured spots. Those trends point in the direction of the Niners’ All-World RB.

Catch rate when Brock Purdy is pressured:

  • Christian McCaffrey: 68.8%
  • Brandon Aiyuk: 63.3%
  • George Kittle: 57.7%
  • Deebo Samuel: 52.0%

Targets per route when Purdy is pressured:

  • Christian McCaffrey: 22.9%
  • Brandon Aiyuk: 19.6%
  • Deebo Samuel: 19.0%
  • George Kittle: 16.0%

It’s rarely a bad idea to look at CMC with optimism and this specific matchup should be viewed no differently!

Pick: Christian McCaffrey over 4.5 receptions (+106 at FanDuel)

Bearman: I love the Packers and what Love (see what I did there?) have done this season, but with all due respect to the Cowboys, this is a step up in class for a very young team.

The 49ers won by double digits in 11 of 12 wins during the regular season (and the one that didn’t was a late field goal by the Rams), so I’m not worried about covering a big number here. They’re better across the board, have more experience, and are well-rested. When healthy, they’re hard to beat.

Pick: 49ers -9 (-110 at ESPN BET)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions Prediction

  • Spread
    Lions -6.5
  • Moneyline
    Buccaneers +250, Lions -300
  • Total

Soppe: The Buccaneers have gone 15 straight games without allowing a rush to gain more than 20 yards, the longest such streak since the Chicago Bears ripped off 16 straight, bridging the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Brian Urlacher’s introduction to the NFL.

Both Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff are playing at an elite level, but these run defenses have been as consistent as anything, which leads to an early prop angle if you’re so inclined. Jahmyr Gibbs is in the 2024 fantasy football first-round discussion, but with a healthy David Montgomery, the rookie averages just 12.4 carries per game when the Lions are favored.

If we are to assume that the splash run is going to be difficult to come by, Gibbs is in a tough spot to make the most of limited volume — under 46.5 rushing yards in seven of eight games this season when failing to notch a run of 20+ yards.

Pick: Jahmyr Gibbs under 46.5 rushing yards (-110 at DraftKings)

Bearman: I correctly picked the Rams to keep it close against the Lions last week, but I also think they’re a much better team than the Buccaneers. Yes, they just blew out the Eagles, but who hasn’t over the last month of the season?

This is the same Bucs team that struggled to beat Carolina twice and needed a rally against the Falcons to keep their hopes alive. While they’re hot, winners of six of their last seven, so are the Lions, who will be playing at home once again.

MORE: Updated Super Bowl 58 Odds

This matchup wasn’t close in Tampa in Week 6, and I don’t think this game will be any different.

Pick: Lions -6.5 (-108 at DraftKings)

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills Prediction

  • Spread
    Bills -3
  • Moneyline
    Chiefs +135, Bills -155
  • Total

Soppe: For his career, Mahomes is 8-1-1 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog with over tickets cashing in seven of those 10 contests.

In those 10 games, the Chiefs have cleared their team total by at least eight points eight times. I’m aware that #BillsMafia will point to their Week 6 meeting last season (the Bills covered as a 1.5-point road favorite and held the Chiefs 5.75 points under expectation), but that has proven to be the exception, not the norm.

So what wins out? The potential of these proven offenses or the form of these defenses (both top five in points allowed per game since Week 13)?

Over the past 20 playoff games, with a projected total north of 45 points and a spread of no more than a field goal (in either direction), road teams are 12-7-1 ATS (11-1 outright in those 12 covers).

Pick: Chiefs ML (+135 at ESPN BET)

Bearman: After a season of doubting both teams, we’re right back where we thought we would be with a Chiefs vs. Bills playoff game.

Kansas City might’ve won the previous two playoff games between them, but they were both at home. This is Patrick Mahomes’ first road playoff game, and Orchard Park would certainly not be his first choice.

The Bills are playing better than anyone right now, especially the Chiefs, despite their win over a defeated Dolphins team in the Wild Card round. Against the Bills, they won’t win settling for field goals like they did last weekend.

Much like the previous meetings between these two teams, I expect this to be another close contest, but with Buffalo heading to their first AFC Championship Game since losing to the Chiefs in the 2021 postseason.

Pick: Bills -2.5 (-120 at DraftKings)

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