NFL Divisional Round Sunday: Jaguars Ascending?

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NFL Playoff Odds: Divisional Round Preview - Bet on NFL Games

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It seems inevitable that the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers will meet again for the AFC title. At press time, the top-seeded Patriots are 14-point home favorites for Saturday’s Divisional Round game against the No. 5 Tennessee Titans, and the No. 2 Steelers are 7.5-point home favorites for Sunday’s matchup (1:05 PM ET, CBS) with the No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars. That makes New England and Pittsburgh the biggest favorites by far on the NFL playoff odds board.

But maybe, just maybe, the Jaguars (11-6 SU, 9-8 ATS) can pull this one off. While their Super Bowl 52 odds may look discouraging at +1800 – ahead of only the Titans at +5000 – there’s more to Jacksonville than meets the eye. The Jags have turned into the league’s best defensive team under co-ordinator Todd Wash, sending four players (cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye, defensive end Calais Campbell, and defensive tackle Malik Jackson) to the Pro Bowl. Jacksonville doesn’t get the same results at the offensive end from quarterback Blake Bortles; however, the much-maligned face of the franchise did perform at a league-average level this season. Cold conditions at Heinz Field could limit scoring at both ends, with Sunday’s 41-point total being the lowest of the four Divisional Round games. Covering a spread of more than seven points could be difficult for Pittsburgh (13-3 SU, 7-9 ATS) under these conditions.

 

Popular Saints Visit Scrappy Vikings

While most people who bet on NFL games will be avoiding the Jaguars and Titans this weekend, the No. 4 New Orleans Saints (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS) are a popular underdog for Sunday’s Divisional tilt with the No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS), kicking off at 4:40 PM ET on FOX. The Vikings are 4-point home favorites on the NFL betting lines; again, the small-market Vikes are known more for their defense, but Case Keenum has done an outstanding job this year filling in at quarterback, and they’ve got added motivation with Super Bowl 52 being played at the new US Bank Stadium on February 4.

The Saints will be happy to play indoors this week after struggling in bad weather during previous playoff appearances. This is a much better team than in years past, featuring talent at both ends of the field, plus a well-balanced offense with Pro-Bowl tailbacks Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara providing support for quarterback Drew Brees. Sunday’s total is still pretty low for a Saints game at 46.5, especially under the dome in Minneapolis. Watch for fresh updates on the Saints vs. Vikings NFL odds at Bovada Sportsbook as the weekend draws closer.

 

*Odds as of January 12, 2018