We're in for a major treat this Divisional Round Sunday. No matter who comes out on top today, both Conference Championship Games are poised to be instant classics. Honestly, so far this postseason, we've already seen some games that will be remembered as top matchups of the decade. Here are my picks for each remaining Divisional Round Game Against The Spread, along with my favorite prop bet for each game.
3 PM-Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I was very wrong about picking the Steelers last week; I really thought that they'd get it together in time to face Cleveland again, and they completely folded under pressure. I'm not sure which way the Steelers would rather remember this season; a hot start that exploded in disappointment, or not at all.
Despite fans not being able to see Big Ben finish a possible last playoff run with a Super Bowl, they'll instead get to see one of the most exciting Browns teams in years attempt the upset yet again against an unstoppable Kansas City. I don't see Cleveland picking up the win, but a 10-point underdog is a nice place for the Browns to be in this game. While this might be a bit of superstitious reasoning, I do think Cleveland's three straight weeks of playing as a cohesive unit will bode well for them in covering the spread. Mahomes sat week 17 to prevent any injury heading into the playoffs, and he should be well-rested heading into Sunday, but the rest of the Chiefs offense has been sluggish in their last two outings. I think this will give the rolling Cleveland offense to either jump to an early lead, or at least keep it close for most of the game.
My favorite prop deals with Cleveland's ground game. Ranking 31st in Rush DVOA according to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs are not well-equipped against Nick Chubb. It's hard to bet on running backs on an offense with both a great receiving staff and a QB that likes to run, but I think 69.5 is just enough to get some money out of Chubb's rushing performance.
Prop Pick: Nickk Chubb OVER 69.5 Yards (-135)
ATS: Browns +10 (-115)
6:40 PM-Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
I've been doing this column for nearly six months, and I still have to check the spelling of "Buccaneers" every time I write it. Is that a tricky word, or am I just an incredibly slow learner? A good question, for another time.
Regardless of how I spell the name, this type of playoff matchup is my favorite; an extra divisional rivalry match to settle the score until next year. New Orleans did take their first two meetings in the regular season, but this is the one that counts. I really don't see why New Orleans won't extend their win streak to 3 against Tampa Bay. I understand that "Tom Brady is the GOAT and he just turns the dial up to 11 in the postseason," but I can't put faith into a team that almost lost to a former XFL Quarterback. No offense to anyone who played in the XFL (GO GUARDIANS!), but on paper, Taylor Heinicke losing by only 3 against that Tampa Bay offense is ludicrous. I'm confident in New Orleans and their offense, more so for guys like Alvin Kamara than Brees (although Brees is great), and I really think the worst that can happen is a push.
Speaking of Kamara, he's been one of the best receiving running backs in the league this year. We all know Brees is a pass-first guy, and for Kamara to become a prime target in New Orleans means the guy is really something special. Look for him to get some decent targets today.
Prop Pick: Alvin Kamara OVER 4.5 Receptions (-155)
ATS: Saints -3 (-115)