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Divisional Round NFL Upset Alert: Underdogs Will Rule On Sunday

Top sportsbooks have released their odds for this week’s Divisional Round matchups. Both games on Sunday interest me: Buccaneers vs. Lions and Chiefs vs. Bills.

For your best bets, I will recommend wagering on both underdogs.

I personally like to invest three-quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog ML.

Picks Summary

  • Buccaneers ML (+240)
  • Chiefs ML (+125)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions

Sunday, January 21, 2024 – 03:00 PM ET at Ford Field


How Detroit Wins Its Games

Since its bye week, nearly all of Detroit’s wins have required it to score 30 or more points. The Lions are unlikely to survive a lower-scoring game. Their Wild Card win over the Rams seems to present an exception, but the Rams’ 23-point team total is rather misleading.

L.A. outgained Detroit in terms of yardage – the Rams amassed 425 total yards. Running back Kyren Williams had some success on the ground, and quarterback Matt Stafford completed 25 of 36 pass attempts for 367 yards and two touchdowns.

So it’s not like Detroit’s defense improved suddenly: the Lions are still very vulnerable to opposing quarterbacks and increasingly vulnerable to opposing running backs.

Detroit’s Defensive Decline

Teams have figured out how to score a lot on the Lions’ defense. Since their bye week, the Lions have given up over 25 points five times, whereas they gave up as many points two times before their bye week.

While they appear to have improved their defense, they are consistently getting demolished by opposing quarterbacks, including backup quarterbacks. Minnesota’s Nick Mullens threw for over 400 yards against them, for example.

Their pass defense ranks 30th. Rather than improve defensively, the Lions seem to be more vulnerable against the run now. Ty Chandler for Minnesota averaged 5.8 YPC in Week 18 against the Lions before Kyren Williams averaged 4.7 YPC against them last week.

Opposing rush attacks, in addition to opposing pass attacks, are figuring Detroit out.

All of this is to say that, in order to want to bet on the Lions, we have to think that they will score a lot of points on Tampa Bay’s defense.

Rematch Trend

But teams that face the Lions a second time are able to figure out how to stop Detroit’s offense. Green Bay allowed twelve fewer points in its rematch to Detroit. Chicago allowed 18 fewer points. The Vikings allowed the same point total. This trend positions Tampa Bay to allow 20 points or fewer in the rematch.

The Bucs lost 20-6 to the Lions back in Week 6 before Detroit’s defense fell off its proverbial cliff. A lot has changed since then, especially to Detroit’s defense.

One thing that hasn’t changed is Detroit quarterback Jared Goff‘s vulnerability to the blitz. Goff, as measured by stats like passer rating under pressure, struggles when he has to deal with extra defenders. This is bad news for Detroit’s offense because the Bucs under Todd Bowles love to blitz more than almost any other team.

Moreover, the Lions won’t be able to lean on their rush attack to support Goff, because Tampa Bay owns one of the NFL’s top run defense, which is well-proven against the NFL’s leading rush attacks, such as Chicago’s.

Tampa Bay’s Offense

Led by quarterback Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay’s offense is also a stronger, higher-scoring machine since Week 6. The Bucs are especially likable on Sunday because they play better on the road, where they are 8-1 ATS.

But the main point is that their pass attack, which just tore up Philadelphia’s poor defense, will be too much for the Lions to handle.

Mayfield loves facing bad defenses. He achieved a passer rating of over 116 against both Green Bay and Jacksonville when those two teams were in a funk defensively. His passer rating against the lowly Eagles was 119.8.

The Lions are in trouble because they won’t be able to score a lot of points against Tampa Bay’s defense, whereas the Bucs will score a lot against them.

NFL Pick: Buccaneers +6.5 (-110) at Bet365

NFL Pick: Buccaneers ML (+240) at Bet365


Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills

Sunday, January 21, 2024 – 06:30 PM ET at Highmark Stadium


Rematch Scenario

The fact that Buffalo beat the Chiefs in Week 14 in Kansas City leads bettors to think that the Bills will certainly beat the Chiefs in a rematch in Buffalo. However, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid loves this scenario of facing teams that beat them in the regular season.

He’s had so much success in this scenario that people speculate that he has his team hold a lot back when its regular-season opponents are playoff-caliber teams. To be exact, since last year, the Chiefs are 3-0 in the playoffs against teams that they faced during the regular season. In last year’s playoffs, they beat a Bengals team that defeated them in the regular season.

Buffalo’s Injuries

This game is different because Buffalo is not the same team as it was in Week 14.

The Bills sustained massive injuries in the Wild Card Round. Key linebacker Terrel Bernard sustained a leg injury and was carted off the field. With fellow linebacker Matt Milano also out, Buffalo lacks linebackers who are effective in coverage.

Moreover, All-Pro selection Taron Johnson sustained a concussion. So the Bills could miss now their two best cornerbacks, since Tre’Davious White is already out, against a Chiefs team that loves to lean on wide receiver Rashee Rice and tight end Travis Kelce in the passing game.

Takeaway

With Buffalo’s injuries, the Chiefs will easily score three or more points than they did in the rematch, although they would do so anyways because their offense has been playing better and because they have their starting running back healthy.

Decisively, Kansas City is 9-0 this year when scoring 20 or more points.

NFL Pick: Chiefs +2.5 (+100) at Bet365

NFL Pick: Chiefs ML (+125) at Bet365

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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