Fantasy Football

Tomlin’s Tips: 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football Bets


Last week, the ball did not bounce my way in a few spots. I’ve reloaded with more relevant stats and trends to make the 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football Bets even better!

All four games in the Wild Card round were coin flip games decided by a single score. You have to go all the way back to the 1991-1992 playoffs to find the last time that happened. The problem is the coin flips did not go my way.

I’m not here to make excuses; I want to find a way to better my handicapping. After sifting through mountains of data and research, I found that I did not factor in strength of schedule (SOS) enough. Usually, this statistic is a college football staple and not in the NFL realm. However, there was a statistical oddity this season that exploited SOS.

The (L)East Divisions

The NFC and AFC East divisions were two of the worst in recent memory. They combined to have four of the five worst teams in the league. They also got to play the next worse division in each conference in the North divisions. This led to the eight teams in the East divisions combining for eight of the nine worst strength of schedule ratings in the league.

So with the three games involving teams from these two divisions, there were drastic differences in strength of schedule rankings. Houston was seventh in the category while Buffalo was 28th. New England was 31st and Tennessee was 21st. Philadelphia had the 29th hardest schedule while Seattle had the hardest. So how can we really apply these differences?

First, there has to be a drastic difference. In these cases, we have rankings differences of twenty-one and twenty-eight spots, while the fact that the Titans were average and the Patriots were next to last magnifies their ten spot difference. Then, if the game is seen as a coin flip, either/or type battle, the difference will come into play. By game time all of these spreads were four or less (and in retrospect, the New England spread would have been less than three if their name wasn’t New England).

My theory is that at the end of the game, in a tight contest, this difference in opposition throughout the year will win out. We saw it as the Texans were able to rally and hold off the Bills. We also saw it with the way Seattle held firm in the fourth quarter against Philly. Then we saw the Patriots basically choke because they had been beating up terrible teams all year.

There is one spot this week where I will bet this theory.

So let’s get to the 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football Bets: Tomlin’s Tips. All of the information in the 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football Bets: Tomlin’s Tips is up to date as of January 9th.

2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Tomlin’s Tips

As always, a simple disclaimer: sports betting should be entertainment. The 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football Bets: Tomlin’s Tips will not make you rich. Anyone with picks saying they can make you rich is a liar and I would bet against them. The 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football Bets: Tomlin’s Tips will be about having fun wagering on sports while trying to stay even or break a small profit.

Best NFL Bets:  0-2 last week, 39-47-1 overall

San Francisco 49ers -9.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings were able to drive down in overtime to overcome a furious Saints comeback and win 26-20. Two things about that ending though:

  1. That was a push-off and should have at least been reviewed. What’s the point of video review on pass interference if it is not used in the biggest of circumstances?
  2. We have to do something about these OT rules that the higher seed never gets to touch the ball in overtime. Why not just play a full 10 or 15 minute quarter and if it’s still tied, then go to the current setup?

Nevertheless, the Vikings were able to run all over the Saints and control the game/clock/line of scrimmage. The biggest factor though was a team that turned the ball over eight times over a sixteen game season turned it over twice in one game leading to a direct 10-point swing of a game that went to overtime.

San Francisco comes in ranked fourth in the league in third-down conversions, while Minnesota is only 19th in stopping third downs. This leads me to believe that the 49ers can sustain longer drives than the Saints were able to, especially since the 49ers were sixth in time of possession and Minnesota was 22nd.

San Francisco is also fifth in yards per play and best in the league in opponents’ yards per play.

I think the 49ers will be able to maintain longer drives and get a lead on the Vikings. Then, we will see the Kirk Cousins I expected last week.

Baltimore Ravens -9.5 vs. Tennessee Titans

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New England had an 85% chance to win the game against the Titans when they got a first and goal up 10-7 late in the second quarter against the second-worst Red Zone defense in the league. Instead, questionable play-calling led to a field goal and too much time remaining in the quarter for the Titans to take a 14-13 halftime lead.

I mean Tennessee had 150 yards on two drives, 122 on seven others. There were still two massive bounces Tennessee’s way late in the fourth when Edelman dropped the key third-down pass near midfield that could have led to a game-winning field goal and the last punt rolled down to exactly the one-yard line because Belichick decided not to have a returner.

Baltimore comes into the game having won twelve straight games and covering the spread nine of ten times. The only time they haven’t covered was a three-point win against the top seed from the other conference. I come back to Red Zone defense and Sack Allowance for the Titans

The Ravens were second in the NFL in Red Zone touchdowns at 67.19% while Tennessee is now 30th allowing touchdowns 66% of the time. Baltimore has an average sack rate, but Tennessee is still dead last at almost 11% sacks per dropback. New England couldn’t get to Tannehill but he had just 16 dropbacks due to the game flow.

Derrick Henry won’t be able to run the ball as efficiently since the Ravens better rushing offense will keep him off the field. Baltimore was third in yards per play and first in points per play in the league. They get a lead, take Henry out of the game, and run away with this one.

Houston Texans +10 at Kansas City Chiefs

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Houston was the luckiest winner last week as they were down 16-0 late in the third quarter and Buffalo had a 96.7% chance to win per FPI. The game started like we thought as Buffalo converted 11 of 21 third downs and half of their Red Zone trips. The inexperience at quarterback and head coach, plus the SOS difference won out though.

Kansas City comes into the game-winning six straight against the spread and straight up. Since Mahomes came back, their only loss, either way, was the crazy Tennessee game with the botched field goals. The Chiefs have covered their last six games by almost ten points per week.

These are two of the top twelve offenses and two of the worst ten defenses. Neither team can get after the quarterback too well as both were elite in protecting the quarterback and bottom third in pass rush per Pro Football Focus.

All in all, I expect this to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend. However, when it comes to the spread, I think the line has just crept up a little too high. As we saw last week, the comeback potential of Deshaun Watson is nothing to be overlooked, keep in mind he had not lost a game by more than a single score since high school until this year.

I think the Chiefs win, but Houston covers the ten points.

Other Games Picked: 1-1 last week, 81-78 overall

I’ll put my picks in for all of NFL games. Some people are in pools where the pick every game each week.
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Seattle Seahawks +4.5 at Green Bay Packers

Seattle took out Carson Wentz and still had to hold on in the last minute to stop the Josh McCown-led Eagles from tying the game. Their running game was stuffed (64 yards on 26 attempts) and Russell Wilson was harassed all day even if the sacks did not get there. With that said, Seattle is now 7-2 against the spread on the road.

Green Bay comes in winning five straight games, going 3-2 against the spread. As much as they seem to be humming, the offense has scored more than 24 points just once since October. They have hit eight straight unders since they have given up 30 points just twice all season.

Surprisingly, both of these teams were outgained by yards per play on the season. Seattle was slightly better, just as they were markedly better converting and stopping third downs. Honestly I have the game as mostly even and would lean towards Green Bay with the home-field advantage.

But, this is where I am learning from my mistakes. There is a drastic strength of schedule discrepancy here. Green Bay is the only non-East division team in the bottom nine in SOS at 25th. Seattle has played the hardest schedule in the league. When you combine those factors with the closest spread by far of the four games, I am leaning towards Seattle getting the 4.5 points.

Game Total of the Week: 0-1 last week, 8-10 overall

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans OVER 50

These are the worst two defenses left in the field and two of the best offenses. We have two of the best three young quarterbacks in the league and this game has shootout written all over it.

NFL 10-Point Teaser of the Week: 0-1 last week, 12-7 overall

My brother and I’s favorite bet: you take 10 points extra either off or on the spread. You combine three different teams with the 10 extra points and all have to hit to win.

Ravens -0.5, Texans +20, and Chiefs/Texans OVER 40

The Ravens have been just too good to get bounced by the Titans in their first playoff game. I think DeShaun Watson can keep it within three touchdowns of the Chiefs, hence I like the over in that game.

College Best Bets: 0-0 last week, 58-51-1 overall

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LSU Tigers -5.5 vs. Clemson Tigers, OVER 69.5

To me, these are easily the best two teams in the country (sorry Ohio St. fans). LSU went 9-5 ATS and Clemson finished a deceiving 11-3. I say deceiving because they gave up two meaningless, last-second scores otherwise they would be 13-1.

Both offenses are in the top five in most major categories. Clemson’s defense seems legendary, but it gets mitigated by their weak strength of schedule. As I’ve already mentioned, SOS is a huge factor with college teams.

LSU was significantly better on both third downs (4th in the country at 50% to 15th for Clemson) and in the Red Zone (4th for LSU at 96.49% scoring while Clemson was 31st at 88.33%). I think the LSU defense will get just enough stops and it is just the Bayou Tigers’ year.

Other Bowl Games, 2-1 last week, 26-13 all bowl picks

That’s it for the 2019-20 NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Football bets in Tomlin’s Tips! Be sure to check out the podcast!

About Michael Tomlin

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog,, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.

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