Two Divisional Round Game Predictions
The 2019 divisional round is upon us and we have some fantastic games.
The best betting sites are pretty much in agreement about who the favorites are in this round. The Chiefs are favored by 5.5 points, the Rams are a full touchdown favorite over the Cowboys, the Pats are 4-point favs, and the Saints are big, -8 favorites over the visiting Eagles. But are they correct? Let’s look at a couple of games this weekend to find out.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints -8
Eight is a lot of points in the NFL. Yet, the experts have lined out the Saints as more than touchdown favorites over Foles and the Eagles. Foles came to life in the playoffs last season, but he had home-field advantage. This time around the Eagles has to head down to Louisiana to face an almost unstoppable New Orleans Saints team.
Let’s be honest … Sorry, Eagles fans, but Philly only made it into the postseason by dumb-luck. Yes, Foles dropped a miraculous 4th-down TD pass into the waiting hands of Golden Tate. But the only reason they advanced was because of a botched 43-yard Cody Parkey field goal. That kind of play won’t work against the Saints who are 14-2 at home. The Eagles can win this game, but a victory isn’t going to come by way of mediocre play.
The basic numbers show the Saints winning by 12 points. The Eagles have not had the same kind of offensive potency this season as they did in 2017-2018. They are putting up just 22.53 points per game. On the bright side, they don’t perform any worse while on the road (22.43). Defensively, the Eagles do give up about one point more per game as the visiting squad. But this shouldn’t matter too much because the amount that the Eagles score per game falls right in line with the amount of points the Saints allow per game, which is 22.1.
So it comes down to the No. 2 home offense against the No. 12 road defense. We will see the Eagles falter on the ground once more, and be forced to get into a QB duel with Drew Brees, who has a powerful running game (No. 6 in rushing yards) at his disposal.
Prediction: Saints win by 10.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. New England Patriots -4
When I was initially handicapping this game, I was actually leaning on the Chargers to cover the four-point spread. They are perhaps the best road team in the league. They only dropped one road game this season, and that was to the Rams in Los Angeles … so in a lot of ways, it doesn’t count as being on the road.
When you look at average offense and average defense, these two teams match-up quite closely. The Chargers allow 20.35 per game while the Pats allow 20.31. On offense, they are also less than a point apart. The Chargers score 26.53 while the Pats put 27.25 per game. When you add to the fact the Chargers are veritable road-warriors, it seems like the perfect situation for a backdoor cover.
But they will be traveling to the other side of the country for the second time in two weeks. And the kicker is the weather. The former San Diego Chargers, now LA chargers are not used to playing in freezing temperatures. The weather is expected to be 27 degrees and cloudy. As the game wears on, the Pats are going to have a definitive advantage. They thrive in moist, cold New England winter air.
Prediction: Take the Pats to pass the Chargers late in the game and cover the number to win by a pair of field goals or more.