The 2019 NFL playoffs move on to the divisional round this weekend, and it might be the best round of the playoffs. The top four seeds are back in action, and we’ve cleaned out some of the shakier options from the wild card round. Three of the four wild card games saw the underdog claim the upset, but none of those three winners was all that surprising in the context of what they bring to the table.
The Colts entered the playoffs with 25/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, tied with three other teams for the longest odds. And yet, they were the best value then, and are still the best value. Quarterback Andrew Luck has rounded back into form, but the real value is because of that defense. The Colts ended the regular season ranked tenth in defensive efficiency, and eighth when weighted toward the end of the year. They went into Houston and shut down the Texans offense for the most part. Houston had some chances late, but it was too little too late.
It’s chalk-ish to say, but the top-seeded Saints are the team to beat at this point. I thought the Bears would give them trouble in the later rounds, but Chicago were stung by their own kicker and the Eagles. The Eagles are dangerous, but I just don’t see them walking away from New Orleans with the win. They could put a scare in the Saints, but that Saints offense is going to give Philadelphia a lot more problems than Mitchell Trubisky. The Rams will give the Saints defense a workout, but home field advantage should be the difference in that one. As for the Super Bowl? Drew Brees & Co. would get to remain indoors at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and annoy Falcons fans with a win on their field. They are No. 1 for a reason, and it’s hard to see them losing the rest of the way.
The Colts are going to give the Chiefs a tough matchup. There are arguments to be made for the Chargers beating the Patriots in the divisional round, but look out for Indy over KC. The Chiefs stumbled to the finish line, and they face some tough history. Dating back to 2013, quarterbacks making their first playoff start are 4-11 straight up and 4-10-1 against the spread. That’s not to say the Chiefs are destined to lose, but history is not in their favor.
Clock likeliest to strike midnight
Cowboys backers suffered a brutal bad beat last week when Sebastian Janikowski’s hamstring injury resulted in the Seahawks executing a two point conversion rather than kick an extra point. That being said, the Cowboys won to advance to the divisional round. Any thoughts of a Cinderella story moving forward should be dismissed. The Cowboys are not going to face the Seahawks kind of offensive malpractice when they travel to face Sean McVay and that Rams offense. Ezekiel Elliott is Dallas’ best hope, but it likely won’t be enough to keep up with the Rams offense. The Rams are a seven point favorite, and at worst this game ends up a push for Rams backers.