Austin Montgomery's Saturday Divisional Round Preview (presented by Betfred Sportsbook)
We are back for another round of the Divisional playoffs. We went 4-2 over the Wild Card weekend. This brought our overall record to 51-38-2.
In this piece we are going to look over the Saturday division matchups. We've got Jacksonville at Kansas City and the New York Giants traveling to Philly.
As always, the picks are presented by Betfred Sportsbook. Bet $50 on any game, and you can get up to $1,111 in free bets courtesy of Betfred. Click here to learn more.
Now, without further ado, let's get to the picks.
Jacksonville at Kansas City
Spread: Kansas City (-9)
The Jaguars pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL postseason history last week against the Chargers. Trevor Lawrence threw four first half interceptions and the Chargers held a commanding 27-0 lead. The Jaguars scored a touchdown in the final minute of the first half, then came back to win the game on a last-minute field goal. It was tough for Chargers backers like me.
But how is Jacksonville going to ride that emotional win going into this game? The two coaches will have tons of familiarity with each other. The Doug Pederson/Andy Reid coaching relationship has spanned over two decades. It’s the only playoff matchup that features two Super Bowl winning coaches.
The handicapping of this game has gone between trends vs matchups. The trend favors the Jaguars. Since 2003, the No. 1 seed is 13-24-1 ATS (35 percent) in its first home playoff game. Then add to the fact Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson is 6-0 against the spread in the playoffs as an underdog. The Chiefs are 15-21-1 ATS when favored by a touchdown or more under Andy Reid.
However, the matchup significantly favors the Chiefs. Jacksonville ranks 30th in pass DVOA. That is not ideal when facing Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs offense has been extremely efficient all season. They rank No. 1 overall in DVOA and they are the best passing team in the NFL. Mahomes is the front runner for MVP for a reason. Kansas City’s offense and play calling is a huge step up from the Chargers. Patrick Mahomes won’t take his foot off the pedal.
The Jaguars should have success on offense as well. Kansas City ranks 24th in pass defense DVOA. The lack of pass rush should Lawarence time to go through his reads. The Chiefs defense ranks nine in yards per play allowed. They are the better group of the bunch. Playing in a tough road environment is going to be a tall task for Lawrence.
Overall, the trends scare me away from taking the Chiefs -9. But I’m going to ride Kansas City’s team total over 30.5. Jacksonville is not going to have an answer for Kansas City’s offense. In nine playoff home games the Chiefs have scored over 30 points in seven of them.
It’s more fun rooting for Mahomes. Ride with Kansas City’s team total here.
The pick: Kansas City TT over 30.5
New York at Philadelphia
Spread: Philadelphia (-7.5)
We get the Giants against the Eagles at home with this same number as the last time these two teams played. That didn’t end well for us. The Giants couldn’t stop a nosebleed. We saw how Daniel Jones struggled to throw the ball from behind. However, there are things different in this matchup. Star corner Adoree Jackson and star interior defender Leonard Williams are available for this one for the G-Men – neither played in those regular season games.
Meanwhile, the last time these two met, New York, playing with mostly back ups, hung around with Philly losing 22-16. The Giants defensive philosophy has shifted. Don Martindale blitzed on 40% of drop backs- played man coverage 80% of the time. New York ranked 31st in pass DVOA during that time. Now, that number has dropped to 22nd, they are playing more cover 2 and cover 4. They are keeping the big plays in front of them. They do rank 32nd in DVOA against the run which could be a problem against Philly. I do think the Giants prevent the explosive passing plays they allowed in the first matchup.
And because of it, I believe the Giants can play high possession football. They will be able to run the ball successfully against Philly’s front. Recently they have been doing a great job at converting third downs. They rank fourth in third down defense as well.
The Eagles are the better team. When you look at the trends for number one seeds, the Giants are the play here. We don’t know how healthy Jalen Hurts is. The Giants are playing really good football right now. I’ll gladly take the 7.5 points with New York.
The pick: Giants +7.5
You can follow Austin on Twitter - @AMontgomeryLive
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