NFL Best Bets Divisional Round | 2024 NFL Playoffs

by Ahaan Rungta · Betting & Props

This is NFL Best Bets Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs! We are coming off a wild three days in the league with three outright wins by underdogs. In this article series, we provide our best game line bets for the NFL slate each week on sportsbooks. This weekend, we have two Saturday games and two Sunday games to take us to the Conference Championships.

This article contains our best bets for the upcoming round of the playoffs. For each bet, we will provide a wager size recommendation (note: 1 unit = 1% of your gambling bankroll). Keep the exposure disciplined. It’s important to stick to the recommendations. Additionally, it is always worth line-shopping at the time you place your bet. This is so you can get the best value available online.

In the Wild Card Round, we misread the Dolphins’ road battle in the frosty Kansas City weather. However, we hit with a 2-unit win on the Rams against the spread. It’s time to end the season on a winning streak.

2 Units: Buccaneers +6.5 (-110, BetMGM)

0.5 Units: Buccaneers Moneyline (+235, Caesars)

In a four-game slate with plenty of narratives and red-hot underdogs meeting one-seeds, the matchup that might prove to be the most fascinating is the indoors battle in Detroit between the two No. 1 overall draft picks, Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff.

In the regular season, Tampa Bay’s offense ranked No. 12 in total EPA per play and No. 8 in dropback EPA per play. Inconsistency has been the name of the game for most of Mayfield’s career. However, this season he has been performing at a level he never has before. Mayfield is making the best of his weapons despite playing behind an offensive line that ranked No. 22 in pass block win rate. On defense, they have fallen off from the juggernaut they were when they won the Super Bowl a few years ago. However, they have gotten better as the season has progressed. This is most notable in their No. 11 ranking in rush EPA per play allowed since Week 10.

Meanwhile, Detroit has been carried by their offense for a majority of the season behind tactical play by Goff and a fantastic offensive line. It makes sense that the Vegas total is high in this one. The difference in this game could stand in Detroit’s lackluster defense. Although they have been sturdy against the run, they cannot defend through the air. Since Week 10, they rank No. 29 in dropback EPA per play allowed.

Lions Offensive Production

Although they got away with a one-point victory in the Wild Card Round against the Los Angeles Rams, most of the Lions’ production came in the first half of the game when Goff was left clean in the pocket on nearly every progression. The Lions only won one quarter in a game against a Rams defense that primarily fielded inexperienced players with low draft capital. Now they face a much more battle-tested group under Todd Bowles. This could very well be a one-possession game for four quarters again. Given that home field advantage is worth no more than two points, spotting the Buccaneers nearly a full score in this contest is disrespectful.

In the event that it comes down to a late duel where quarterback play determines a winner, the player to trust more is Mayfield. He ranks No. 4 among all quarterbacks this season in EPA per play post-halftime. Additionally, Mayfield ranks No. 10 in passer rating against man coverage. Man coverage is primarily what the Lions rely on.

The Buccaneers are 9-3 against the spread as underdogs this season, including 5-1 against the spread as an underdog of at least four points. It is the right play to take the points again this weekend. Tampa Bay also poses some important late game microadvantages that makes it worth the price to back them straight up to advance.

1.5 Units: Bills Moneyline (-142, DraftKings)

The Divisional Round slate ends with the longest-storied recent history of narratives. Former MVP and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes gets set to play the first road playoff game of his NFL career against two-time MVP runner-up Josh Allen. The most well-known betting headline surrounding the Chiefs is that Mahomes has been one of the toughest players of all time to fade. Mahomes is 8-1-1 against the spread as an underdog in his career. This includes going 1-0-0 straight up as an underdog (Super Bowl 2023). The narratives have been baked into the lines by now. As a result, an overreaction has occurred. 

With home field advantage being worth about two points in frosty Buffalo, the 2.5-point spread in favor of the Bills essentially suggests that these two teams are evenly matched. This is very much not the case. This season Kansas City has provided Mahomes with the worst surrounding roster of his NFL career.

Defensively, the Chiefs rely on an excellent defensive scheme in man coverage. However, they rank just No. 20 in pass rush win rate, but they have been sturdy through the air and ranked No. 3 in dropback EPA per play allowed. The problem is there is only so much that one-dimensional process can do for you against Josh Allen. Kansas City should be exposed by Allen through the ground as they rank No. 28 in rush EPA per play allowed. However, they could also struggle defending Allen through the air. Allen ranks No. 12 in passer rating and No. 3 in accuracy rating against man coverage. He also ranks No. 11 in completion percentage and No. 2 in accuracy rating in a clean pocket. Kansas City cannot get away with a lack of pressure much longer.

Dolphins Offense

Offensively, do not let the cakewalk against a battered Dolphins defense fool you—the Chiefs need to be able to find answers outside of Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice and simply have not proven they have the personnel to do so. The Bills rank No. 7 in dropback EPA per play allowed and No. 4 in pass rush win rate. They are the more complete unit defensively even with a couple of starters banged up.

The obvious reason the Chiefs are only small underdogs and are still contenders to go all the way to another championship is the quarterback position. Mahomes has statistically been the most efficient quarterback we have ever seen in the NFL. However, thanks to a lack of activity by the Chiefs front office to give Mahomes a full set of weapons, Allen has been the more productive player this season and ranks No. 3 among all quarterbacks this season in EPA per play in the fourth quarter and overtime (Mahomes ranks No. 18).

Kansas City could simply run out of answers on both ends of the ball in the Divisional Round, making it worth the juice to back the home team this weekend.