NFL Divisional Round Predictions

The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is a very different beast from the wild card round.  The wild card is a match-up of the two worse division winners and the next two best teams; e.g. teams 3 through 6 in each conference.  Especially when there’s a weak division, there’s a decent chance that the wild cards and the two worse division winners aren’t too different in talent, and so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see a road favorite or upsets in general.  But in the divisional round, you get the two top seeds, which are typically (but not always; I’ll pick on Atlanta this year) going to be better than the other teams in the playoffs.  Thus the two home teams in each conference should be favored pretty much every time.  That’s indeed what we have this year; let’s see what the models think will happen.

Over/under: The models are in complete agreement this week, which I think means they’ll all be wrong.  But if they’re right, we’ll have three ‘over’ games, which hopefully means more exciting games.

Moneyline:  As is typically true, the models like the underdogs to be worthwhile picks to win.  If either the Jets or Seahawks were to pull it off, they would make a profit.

Spread:  In the regular season it’s hard to think that any team will win by a lot.  Obviously it happens, it’s just hard to pick when.  In the playoffs the teams are closer in talent, so this becomes more true.  So you’ll notice that Luigi would skip the first two games and take the underdogs in the other two.  I’m honestly a little nervous about both.  Mario would skip only the first game, and thinks Atlanta should cover.

Bill Simmons:  After taking every road team to cover in the wild card, he’s taking all the home teams except for Seattle.  We tied last week, and this week we disagree on two games (remember that I go with Luigi’s picks).

As a fan, here’s what I hope will happen: the Ravens knock off the Steelers (I’m just tired of Pittsburgh), the Packers beat the Falcons (I think they’re the better team), the Jets keep it close but lose to the Pats (the Pats should win but I want to get the cover), and Seattle beats Chicago (I’m tired of the Bears getting playoff runs every few years on dumb luck).

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