Tomlin’s Tips: 2021 NFL Divisional Round Bets

by Michael Tomlin
2021 Week 12 Football Bets

In what many call the best weekend of football of the year (although now I like last weekend more), we hope to continue the hot streak with the 2021 NFL Divisional Round Bets.

My College Bowl picks ended up a staggering 16-6-1. That’s almost $1,000 of profit if you bet $100 on each game just for the bowls. It easily was my best overall college season and I’m sad to see it go. In the offseason, I will take some time and write up what I did differently this year that worked.

For the NFL, I fought out a .500 week with a couple of bad misreads and one bad beat. Nevertheless, there are a couple of huge trends to get to before we dive into the 2021 NFL Divisional Round Bets.

Getting the first-round bye in the NFL Playoffs is the single biggest advantage in all of sports. This setup combined with the woeful AFC East is the true MVP of the New England Patriots’ dynasty. They never won a Super Bowl without the bye week.

In the last seven seasons, teams with a bye week are 20-8 Against The Spread and 22-6 Straight Up in this round. The top seeds in each conference are 11-3 ATS and 12-2 SU. The only straight-up losers were quarterbacks in their first playoff game (Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott).

This year is different though, with only the single bye per conference. For that reason, I do think there is some value in fading the #2 seeds because of the history in their favor that no longer is valid.

As always, a simple disclaimer: sports betting should be entertainment. The 2021 NFL Divisional Round Bets will not make you rich. Anyone with picks saying they can make you rich is a liar and I would bet against them.

The 2021 NFL Divisional Round Bets will be about having fun wagering on sports while trying to stay even or break a small profit.

All of the information is up to date as of January 15th.

Tomlin’s Tips: 2021 NFL Divisional Round Bets

Best NFL Bets: 3-3 last week, 40-43-1 regular season

Each week I will pick my five best bets for the NFL weekend. This is similar to the most famous handicapping contest in the world, The Las Vegas Supercontest, where the winner gets over a million bucks.

Green Bay Packers -6 vs. Los Angeles Rams

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While it may seem like sour grapes that I picked a three-point favorite who lost outright by ten points, I think the game was completely misleading. Seattle had the game-flow it wanted with a 6-3 score in the second quarter. The Seahawks just wanted to keep it a field-goal-game then let their All-Pro quarterback flourish while the Rams’ signal-caller made mistakes.

Then the pick-six on the screen happened and changed everything. There were five touchdowns in the game, but three end zone spikes within four and a half minutes starting with that defensive touchdown. It changed everything and gave the Rams the luxury of playing with the lead.

I don’t think they get that luxury with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers were the top team in the league at scoring touchdowns in the Red Zone, converting at 80%. They also were eighth in stopping Red Zone touchdowns, while the Rams were in the back half of the league at converting.

I think the Packers can get the early lead and hold off the injured Jared Goff.

Baltimore Ravens +3 at Buffalo Bills

I have been riding the Bills as possibly the best team in the league for weeks, but I’m jumping off now, hopefully, a week early instead of late. The reason: I think it is the sucker line of the week.

This line is teetering at 2.5/3 right now, I’m buying it to 3 if it is 2.5. So if you give two points for home-field, you are saying these two teams are basically even. Both are on hot streaks, with Buffalo on a six-game win streak (nine of their last ten with just the Hail Mary loss) and Baltimore covering seven straight games.

The difference is Buffalo is blowing out playoff teams by double digits. Baltimore was beating up the dregs of the NFL. Even last week, Buffalo had a much more comfortable win than Baltimore, with a 48-yard touchdown run by Lamar Jackson saving the Ravens. So why is this line not higher?

I think the main reason is the confidence of Lamar Jackson. His play swings more on his confidence level than maybe any other quarterback. Now he has that playoff monkey off his back and looks to be rolling.

The Ravens also have significant advantages at both Points Per Play and Red Zone touchdown conversions, translating to fewer punts and more touchdowns. That’s not a good mix. Lastly, it looks like snow is likely which ironically hurts the much more pass-dependent Bills.

Cleveland Browns +10 at Kansas City Chiefs

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The last time the Kansas City Chiefs covered a game was the day after Halloween. The Patrick Mahomes tax is a real thing. The guy has won 23 of his last 24 games but is a losing bet against the spread. Hell, Mahomes has not lost a game by more than one score since November 19th…. of 2016. When he was still at Texas Tech.

So at this point, against the spread (especially more than a touchdown), he’s an auto-fade. This is the only time in the playoffs that I will bet on an underdog that I do not think can win the game.

There are a couple of factors in Cleveland’s favor though. They are ranked ninth in offensive DVOA while Kansas City is 22nd. The Browns convert touchdowns in the red zone at the third-highest rate in the league, while Kansas City is dead last in allowing conversions. Both teams convert third downs in the top quarter of the league while allowing conversions in the bottom half.

This will more than likely be a shootout. It is really hard to cover a double-digit spread in a shootout.

New Orleans Saints -3 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Michael Thomas was seen as one of the best non-quarterbacks in the league going into the season. He’s had his attitudinal issues, but the guy is under-rated now for his on-field play.

Thomas has played four games with Drew Brees this season. The Saints are 4-0 SU and ATS in those games, averaging thirty points per game. Two of those four games were against these Buccaneers. The Saints scored 34 and 38 points in those two games, winning by a combined 46 points.

It’s not like Thomas torched the Bucs, but something about him being on the field short-circuits the Tampa Bay defense. It definitely opens up the running lanes as the Saints had 139 yards rushing in the last meeting.

Another factor against Tampa is their 26th-ranked special teams per Football Outsiders. The Saints are ranked fifth. New Orleans will gain hidden yardage with starting field position all day while Tom Brady will have to work from behind.

Lastly, we have another (technically by the stat) night game for Tom Brady. Brady is now 0-8 ATS in night games the past few years.

Other NFL Games Picked: 91-79-1 season

I’ll put my picks in for all of the NFL games. Some people are in pools where they pick every game each week. Home teams are in CAPS.

NFL 10-Point Teaser of the Week: 1-0 last week, 11-7 season

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

Saints +7, Ravens +13, and Rams/Packers UNDER 56.5

I like both of those games to be within a touchdown either way. I also don’t see a scenario that the Rams get to 24 points, making that under pretty tasty.

Others I Like (4-1): Buccaneers +13, Bills +7, Chiefs PK, Chiefs/Browns OVER 45, and Saints/Buccaneers OVER 41

Game Total of the Week: 0-3 last week, 13-7 season

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs, OVER 55

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The Browns defense gave up an average of 35 points per game to playoff teams with their starting quarterback playing. They also scored more than 31 points per game against playoff teams. Shoot. Out.

College Best Bets: 41-29-2 regular season, 16-6-1 in bowls

The College Football Playoff National Championship went almost exactly like I predicted last week. Alabama was able to take the top off the Ohio State defense while the Buckeyes could not push the ball downfield. That combined with the injuries to Ohio State led to an easy cover and an amazing college betting season for myself.

That’s it for the 2021 NFL Divisional Round bets. Be sure to check out our NFL Playoffs DFS Projections!

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