Jan. 19—The divisional round of the NFL playoffs features four home teams with advantages, according to the betting spread.
The matchup that is anticipated to be the closest is the Buffalo Bills-Kansas City Chiefs game in Buffalo, New York. The Bills are currently just 2.5-point favorites.
Every other game of the weekend has a heavy favorite. The Baltimore Ravens are hosting the Houston Texans and are getting 9.5 points. The San Francisco 49ers are also favored by 9.5 as the Green Bay Packers visit Levi's Stadium. The Detroit Lions are getting 6.5 points over the NFC South champions in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It will be hard to pick against these home teams this weekend. I think each matchup has a chance to be a close game.
The young Texans team is flourishing right now, and if that offense can keep it up against Baltimore, things could get interesting.
The Packers are the same way with a young quarterback getting his first starting action in Jordan Love. But can he have success against a strong 49ers defense?
Houston's C.J. Stroud — along with Love — could really turn some heads with their performance's in the divisional round.
The Buccaneers shouldn't be counted out because of its defense. The offense is a little inconsistent, but the defense can keep it in any game.
The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes. They're outmatched in overall talent on offense, but Mahomes can make magic happen. Don't be surprised if you see it again.
Here are my picks:
—No. 1 Ravens vs. No. 4 Texans, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN: I like Stroud and the offense the Texans have, but I don't like them against this defense. I expect the early parts of the game to be a feeling-out process for the Ravens.
The game may be close through the first quarter, but once Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense start to find a rhythm, they will run away. The Texans defense is fine, but it can't hold these guys down.
I think Houston will struggle to score consistently against the Ravens' defense. And you can't have many empty possessions against an offense like the Ravens'.
RAVENS 31-17. —No. 1 49ers vs. No. 7 Packers, 7:15 p.m. on FOX: The Packers are an intriguing team. During the regular season it seemed they relied heavily on defense. But right now the offense is playing well, Aaron Jones is healthy and running the ball well, and you can't complain about Love's efficiency in playing.
But the 49ers have more in the skill positions, and their defense is good as well.
I expect San Francisco to pull away similarly to Baltimore and take control in the second half.
49ERS 35-21. SUNDAY—No. 3 Lions vs. No. 4 Buccaneers, 2 p.m. on NBC: Tampa Bay barely won a bad division this year, and had it not, there would have been no playoffs. But it did and got matched up with the weakest team coming into the postseason in the Philadelphia Eagles.
I thought the Buccaneers would win that game with the Eagles struggling so much late in the regular season. Now they get to face a Lions team that has been around the top of the NFC all season.
The Lions are able to do a little bit of everything with multiple options for Jared Goff to throw the ball to and two running backs that offer different skills sets in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. The defense has also been much better this year.
But I like Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers' receivers to do just enough to outlast the Lions.
BUCS 24-21. —No. 2 Bills vs. No. 3 Chiefs, 5:30 p.m. on CBS: Buffalo is back. The Bills struggled to a 6-6 start but finished 11-6 and earned a playoff win for a sixth straight victory.
The Chiefs on the other hand look a little different. KC lost four of its last eight regular season games after a 7-2 start. It's first-round win over Miami also isn't super impressive to me.
The Dolphins were down multiple defensive players and only beat one team with a winning record all season. That was the Dallas Cowboys, which also lost in the opening round.
The Chiefs absolutely should have beaten the Dolphins. They were the far better team. I'm not confident that is the case in this one. Add to it that they have to travel to Buffalo.