And then there were eight. The NFL playoff picture has dwindled in size, with four matchups on the NFL betting odds board for the Divisional Round. We focus on the NFC side of the postseason bracket, with some huge games on tap – as well as sportsbook ratings and some upstart underdogs shaking things up for football bettors this month.
Here’s a glance at the opening odds, action and edges when betting the NFC Divisional Round games:
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7, 49)
The No. 2 Rams play host to America’s team, which is hot off a tight win over the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round – its seventh victory in the last eight games going back to mid-November. Dallas’ defense looked great but some believe poor play calling let the Cowboys off the hook. That won’t happen against Sean McVay and this Los Angeles attack.
Books have pegged the Rams as touchdown favorites at home, and perhaps the biggest X-factor will be the play of Rams all-world defensive lineman Aaron Donald. He’s been one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL this season, and Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott is the second-most sacked QB in the NFL this season, holding on to the football too long and finding his way to the turf 56 times in the regular season.
If you’re looking to bet Dallas, you’re banking on two things: Running the ball and slowing L.A.’s offense. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had a huge game versus Seattle but also had a massive amount of touches. That allowed Dallas to control possession for 34:50, and if they can do the same to the Rams, it will keep Jared Goff and Todd Gurley off the field. It doesn’t leave much time for scoring, making the underdog a tempting pick with a playoff spread this big.
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-9, 51)
The Eagles continue to defy the odds, with a nail-biting win in Chicago, winning that Wild Card game thanks to a missed kick from the Bears as time expired. Philadelphia didn’t play a great game on offense, and really didn’t show much of an attack until the final minutes of the game. The Eagles can’t afford to have a slow start versus the Saints, who are rested and ready to roll.
Oddsmakers opened New Orleans as an 8-point home favorite and let the betting market decide on which way this spread will trend. Early action is on the Saints, sliding this up a point to -9. New Orleans blasted the Eagles 48-7 back in Week 11, winning and covering as 7-point home chalk. Funny enough, that one-sided final score served as a wake-up call for Philadelphia, which is 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in its seven games since.
The Eagles defense is the deciding edge in this game. Philadelphia is playing at an extremely high level in that seven-game span. It did a great job bottling up the Bears’ ground game and putting pressure on Mitch Trubisky, but the secondary allowed big strikes – most notably on that final Chicago drive. Philly may have been able to get away with that against a second-year QB but can’t give up that space to Drew Brees and his talented receivers.