NFL Playoff Upset Picks Divisional RoundJosh Bailey
With underdogs going 4-0 ATS in the wild card round while winning two of those four games outright, clearly there’s upset value all around this NFL postseason.
2018 NFL Playoff Upset Picks Divisional Round
With this weekend’s divisional round quickly approaching, two of the four matchups on the docket look like they’re offering excellent upset value. Now, let’s find out which pair of games they are!
What: NFC Divisional Championship
Who: Atlanta Falcons (11-6) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
When: Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 4:35 PM ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.
Stream: NBC Sports Live
NFL Line: Falcons -2.5
Analysis: It’s true, the Philadelphia Eagles don’t look like the same team they were under starting quarterback Carson Wentz as they now do under veteran backup Nick Foles, but the fact of the matter is that this year’s Philly team has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and several playmakers that could help them overcome this status as the first top-seeded team to be an underdog in the divisional round.
The Birds have a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end in Zach Ertz (824 yards, 8 TDs) ) and a pair of very good wide receivers in veteran Alshon Jeffrey (789 yards, 9 TDs) and the still-blossoming Nelson Agholor (768 yards, 8 TDs). Philly also has a trio of talented running back in LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement (4 TDs).
On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins is a stud and fellow cornerback Jalen Mills had a fine second season. Linebackers, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks are sideline-to-sideline playmakers and Philly is playing at home in cold weather the Falcons probably won’t like very much.
Atlanta is playing fantastic football and has won seven of their last nine games coming into their divisional round matchup, but let’s not forget, the Falcons struggled a lot in the middle portion of the season and they pulled a major choke job in last season’s Super Bowl 51 matchup against New England with virtually the same cast of core players they still have.
The Eagles are looking to recapture the magic that Nick Foles had back with the Birds back in 2013 when he tossed 27 TD passes and just two interceptions and if they can put it all together, I can see the Birds winning outright as home dogs!
Upset Pick: Philadelphia +3
What: NFC Divisional Championship
Who: New Orleans Saints (12-5) at Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
When: Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 4:40 PM ET
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Stream: Fox Sports Go
NFL Line: Vikings -3.5
Analysis: The other game that I believe is offering some really good upset value has a solid New Orleans team on the road at Minnesota in the other NFC divisional round matchup.
The Saints beat Carolina for the third time this season in their 31-26 Wild Card win over the Panthers on Sunday as Brees passed for 376 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while rookie Alvin Kamara added one rushing score in the win. The Saints recorded four sacks on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and forced the Panthers to settle for four field goals instead of touchdowns.
If they can put up a similar effort on the defensive side of the ball against Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, they could very well pull off the upset against a Vikings team they lost their regular season opener to 29-19 in Minnesota.
The Vikings have a steady, but certainly not, high-powered offense and New Orleans has a much-improved defense from their regular season opener, so it’s more than feasible that the Saints could win outright, especially seeing as how they have a huge advantage at quarterback with Drew Brees being infinitely better than even, an improved Keenum this season.
The Saints are an incendiary 8-1 ATS in their last nine road games against a team with a winning home record, a near-perfect 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in the month of January and a consistent 13-5 ATS in their last 18 road games. I see New Orleans having an excellent chance for the outright upset in this one!
Upset Pick: Saints +3.5