It’s the divisional round in the NFL, which means there are only four games on deck. Normally, I look for teaser options. However, for this week, with only two true teaser legs in play (Chiefs -2.5 and Eagles -1.5), I’m turning to an alternative.
Bet: 2-team parlay, Chiefs ML + 49ers ML (-120)
Through the regular season, the Chiefs ranked first in yards per play, points per drive and touchdown rate, while ranking second in red zone touchdown scoring and converting third downs. There’s a reason I predicted the Chargers last week over my Jags team — the Jacksonville defense is highly vulnerable. In the first half, the first seven drives for the Chargers offense went touchdown, field goal, punt, touchdown, touchdown, punt, field goal. That’s five scores in seven drives. Granted, three of those scores came from Trevor Lawrence throwing interceptions.
It's also worth considering how the Jaguars have fared away from home. The last few quarterbacks the Jacksonville defense faced on the road include Davis Mills, Zach Wilson and Ryan Tannehill before getting dumptrucked by the Lions in a 40-14 loss. Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw 340 yards and zero interceptions.
This is Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. They won’t make the same second-half mistakes as Brandon Staley.
San Francisco 49ers to beat the Dallas Cowboys
The 49ers offense has scored no less than 33 points at home, averaging 37 points per game when playing at Levi’s Stadium. Quarterback Brock Purdy is a gamer but credit to Kyle Shanahan for not putting pressure on Purdy to produce deep-ball situations. Purdy’s air yards per pass attempt is a 6.8 average, while ranking 41st in the league for deep ball attempts. In a recent interview, Purdy explained that in some ways, the NFL is easier than college because all he has to do is check it down and his receivers will take care of the rest. Between a fully healthy Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel among others, the 49ers offense is nothing short of weapons.
The 49ers offense is one aspect. However, it’s their defense against the Cowboys offense that has me even more interested. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott leads the NFL in interceptions with 15. Prescott has thrown 11 interceptions since Week 12. Sure, Prescott didn't throw any interceptions against Tampa Bay, but the Bucs are 28th in forcing interceptions. The San Fran defense is second-best in takeaways, and third-best in thrown interceptions. In the 49ers' last five home games, the defense has produced 15 takeaways. It’s extremely tough to contend when there are 11 different defenders who have forced at least one interception. Safeties Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga could be in for a very good game.