NFL Best Bets Against the Spread – Divisional Round Edition

Jake Benaquisto with his NFL Divisional Round weekend picks…

Wildcard Weekend was unpredictable, but I still managed to break even and go 2-2 against the spread. Before I give my picks for the divisional round games, here is my rant on the Jets hiring Adam Gase to be their Head Coach:

While I was on the record of disliking Gase, I do think there has been an unreasonable amount of anger from fans reacting to this hire. Anyone who thinks this coach is automatically going to succeed or fail in New York needs to a take a deep breath.

The HC is obviously important, but winning in the NFL ultimately comes down to talent. The Jets are a team who has lacked talent at key positions for a long time, which is why they have not made the playoffs since 2010. They have some exciting building blocks for the future, specifically Sam Darnold and Jamal Adams, but it won’t matter who the HC of this team is if the front office cannot acquire more blue chip players.

As for Adam Gase, it’s hard to get excited about a head coach who just flamed out in your own division. You can make the case that he never had the right QB, but there is no doubt that Gase was a massive disappointment in Miami. However, when you think about what the Jets wanted in an HC, the hire makes more sense. Gase has experience in the position, is widely known for running a creative offense, and has a history of developing quarterbacks. With Sam Darnold, the Jets wanted a coach who could get the most out of a young QB, and Gase might be that guy.

Like I said, it’s way too early to determine whether this hire is a home run or a ‘Same Old Jets’ disaster waiting to happen. There are many valid concerns about Gase as a coach, but there was never a perfect candidate on the market to begin with. It’s now up to the Jets’ front office to build the team around Sam Darnold and get Gase the players he needs for his system. If Mike Maccagnan’s draft record and free agent spending does not improve, the Jets will be be looking to fully clean house once again by 2020.

Indianapolis +5.5 at Kansas City

Andrew Luck’s offensive line, which is led by the All-Pro rookie Quentin Nelson, allowed the least amount of sacks in the league this season. The unit’s stellar play continued against the Texans last week, as they were able to shut down J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. This line gives the Colts a favorable matchup against Kansas City’s pass rush, which is their only real strength on defense.

My gut tells me the Chiefs win the game outright because Mahomes seems ready for the moment and I don’t trust that Colts defense to get a stop late.  But I would not feel comfortable laying 5.5 points with KC’s defense against Andrew Luck. This feels like a game that gets decided by a field goal either way.

Chiefs win, but Colts cover, 30-28.

Dallas +7.5 at LA Rams

When was the last time the Rams had an impressive win? You’d have to go back to that wild Monday Night Football shootout against the Chiefs. Since that game, the Rams are 3-2 with their wins coming against the Lions, Cardinals, and 49ers.

This Dallas defense will be no walk in the park for the Rams. I’d feel differently if Cooper Krupp was healthy, as his absence has clearly impacted Jared Goff’s play. I think the Rams can score just enough to win the game, but not by eight or more points.

I’ll take the Cowboys defense to keep it close, but Rams win outright, 29-23.

New England -4 vs. LA Chargers

The Jets fan in me is hoping they get obliterated this weekend, but I just can’t put money on the Patriots losing at home. The Chargers are a better team on paper and can win on the road, so I can see a scenario where they pull off the upset. I just think the odds are stacked against any team when they’re facing Belichick and Brady off a bye.

Look for New England to run the ball heavy in a low-scoring, defensive game.

Patriots win and cover 23-16.

Philadelphia +8 at New Orleans

I have a major Saints Super Bowl future bet that I’ll be rooting for and Nick Foles actually worries me in this matchup.

New Orleans destroyed the Eagles earlier in the season, but that was with Carson Wentz at quarterback. Not only does Philly have the revenge angle on their side, but it’s another week with this team as a huge underdog, which they seem to rally around. I expect the Eagles to prove Vegas wrong once again and keep this game within one score.

I’d be shocked if Philadelphia wins the game outright, but them getting more than a touchdown is an easy choice.

Eagles cover, but Saints win outright 27-21.


Wildcard Weekend Record: 2-2

Season Record: 42-46-1