2019 NFL Divisional Round Playoff Picks

Another awesome week last week for the best NFL point spread data scientist. The models predicted 4-0 ATS all games with 3 of them being locks. They were too close for comfort, but in the playoffs it's hard to find blowouts (although I think we spotted one this week).

The NFL Divisional playoffs are here and the #1 and #2 seeds will be making their playoff debuts. We will again lock 3 of the 4 games and analyze the 4th one and tell you why that one in particular is so hard to predict. Enough chit chat, here are the 2019 NFL Divisional Playoff Picks:

Tennessee +9 
correct NFL point spread pick
You gotta trust data science and trends to bet against the Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. I've said all season he's an outlier and these guys are hard to predict. On the other side you got another outlier in Derrick Henry who looked unstoppable all year and especially last week against arguably the best defense in the league. For my models, it was also a tough decision. Two of my 5 statistical models had Tennessee even winning, but not my best one (displayed below). Nine points seems like a lot for the #3 vs #1 offense, the difference is in the defense. The question is if the #19 defense in Tennessee will be able to keep it close, maybe if the offense is on the field a lot they will. If you think about it, the pressure is on Lamar. He's the MVP, the one everyone is expecting to blow this team out. If at 23 he's not mentally prepared, he will flop. Here are some other reasons why I like Tennessee in this spot:
  • Road underdogs are 8-3 (40%) ATS against Lamar Jackson
  • Since Tannehill, the Titans is 7-3-1 ATS
  • Divisional round underdogs are 36-24 ATS since 2003
  • Ravens had big spreads this year against the Dolphins, Cardinals, Bengals, Jets and Browns (they lost 2 of those)
  • The Ravens #19 rush D will have their hands full against Henry
  • Tannehill might struggle against the #4 pass D, but with185 yds and 4 TD he can run
  • The pressure to perform is on Lamar Jackson's shoulders, no one else
Kansas City -9.5 correct NFL point spread pick
This could be a blowout. The Chiefs #2 offense (arguably #1 if Hill would've been healthy all season) is going against the #27 defense. Sure they have JJ Watt now, but what you saw was a performance against a poor Buffalo offense. All my models have KC covering (some by just a half point) but the situational confidence is the highest of all games. This is the one game where the road team heavy favorite doesn't cover. Other reasons to like KC: 
  • Kansas City's defense is quietly ranked #13, similar to the Eagles who performed 
  • Andy Reid after a bye week is 59% ATS during playoffs
  • Bill O'Brien is 3-8 (27%) as an underdog of a TD or more during playoffs
  • The #2 passing offense vs the #26 passing defense is a recipe for a blowout
  • Houston especially bad against the TE so Kelce to have a party
  • Models are predicting this game at an average of 13 point spread, but when considering games where Kelce and Hill were playing it shoots up to 17
  • The sharps agree giving KC 52% of the bets but 57% of the money

Vikings +7 
The Vikings are playing awesome and it's because they have a bunch of weapons. Cook, Theilen and Rudolph can put any defense on its feet. Kirk Cousins wasn't supposed to be good, but he's performing and maybe all he needed was players of the caliber of the above 3 mentioned. All my models have the Vikings covering and one of them even winning this game. The situational confidence is not as high as I would like it, but here some other trends that could help boost your confidence in this bet:
  • Overall both teams are ranked similarly at 7 vs 5 so why is it a 7 point spread?
  • Garappalo's first playoff appearance, follow the trend. Last week 2 of 3 lost and overall it is still at close to 28%. Hard to bet against this trend imo
  • Road dogs by 7+ are 19-14 (57.6%) and 6 of last 8 during playoffs
  • At first SF was getting close to 65% of the money and that's now down to 54%

Seattle or Green Bay???
For some this may seem like the lock of the week. Certainly it is for many bettors since Seattle is getting over 60% of the bets and money. To me Seattle is not performing well, their offense looked unimpressive last week. I think they're running game has suffered a lot after losing their 3 RBs. Sure it's fun to watch Beast Mode go in at the goal line, but that's all he's going to be able to do. Rodgers is 10-5 ATS during playoffs and the skills and the mentality to win these types of games. My models have Seattle not only covering, but winning at low situational confidence which is why I'm going to spread the wealth across the 3 games above, go 3-0, and stay away from this one. Here's some other random facts:
  • Russel Wilson is 7-6 ATS and Rodgers is 10-5 ATS during playoffs
  • Two other teams that are evenly ranked and both with poor rushing defenses which will benefit GB more
  • This is the only game where SOS is statistically different between the two teams. Seattle with 1.5 standard deviations tougher of a schedule
  • Seattle's offense wasn't impressive against Phi (#12) and now against GB (#15), not so different. That's why the under is so popular, but Rodgers and company will figure out how to outscore them
Here are the models' output for the 2019 NFL Divisional Playoffs point spread picks.

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
HOUSTON @ KANSAS CITY -9.5 -12.4 -2.9 62.1
MINNESOTA @ SAN FRANCISCO -7.0 0.8 7.8 59.6
TENNESSEE @ BALTIMORE -9.0 -3.0 6.0 58.1
SEATTLE @ GREEN BAY -3.5 2.4 5.9 52.5