It’s a coincidence that our top two NFL picks for the Divisional Round are the Saturday games and our two upset picks are both Sunday. Just happened that way organically. Here are those upset picks with NFL odds from the best sportsbooks.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills
Sunday, January 22, 2023 – 03:00 PM EST at Highmark Stadium
CBS has the first game of Sunday between the AFC’s third-seeded Bengals and No. 2 Bills from Buffalo. I am presuming the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs take care of business against the No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.
If so, Cincinnati with a win would play in the AFC title game in Kansas City just like it did last year when it stunned the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime on an Evan McPherson 31-yard field goal after the Bengals had picked off Patrick Mahomes on the opening possession of OT.
If Buffalo wins, it would not travel to Kansas City but instead play the Chiefs in a neutral-site AFC title game in Atlanta. Remember, in Week 17 on a Monday night when Buffalo was in Cincinnati, the Bengals were leading 7-3 in the first quarter when Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field and went into cardiac arrest. Thankfully, it appears he will make a full recovery but that game was postponed and eventually canceled.
Not only did the cancellation potentially cost the Bills the chance to host the AFC title game but also the Bengals a chance to host this game – which they would have had they won that Monday night and everything else happened as it did since. Very hard to read too much into less than a quarter of action, but the Bengals did look like the better team that night. Both Cincinnati and Buffalo beat Kansas City in the regular season.
Each enters having won at least eight straight games (Bengals nine and Bills eight), so it will be the seventh playoff matchup in NFL history with both teams entering on a winning streak of at least eight. Both teams rank Top 7 in scoring offense and scoring defense this season.
Here’s why I think the Bengals can steal this: Bills QB Josh Allen has had some major turnover issues as of late. He had two picks and three fumbles (one lost) in the way-too-close win over Miami last weekend and leads the league with 16 picks when including the regular season. Joe Burrow hasn’t been picked off in his past two. Since the first meeting didn’t count, this is the first time Allen and Burrow will face off in the NFL.
NFL Pick: Bengals (+206) at BetRivers
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, January 22, 2023 – 06:30 PM EST at Levi’s Stadium
FOX has this NFC Divisional matchup between the fifth-seeded Cowboys and the No. 2 49ers. If No. 1 Philadelphia beats the No. 6 New York Giants on Saturday as I expect, the Eagles would host the winner of this game next Sunday for the conference title. If Philly loses, this winner hosts the Giants. Yes, the Wild Card Cowboys can still have a home playoff game.
This will be the ninth all-time playoff meeting between the franchises, tied for the most-played postseason matchup in the Super Bowl era along with Cowboys-Rams and 49ers-Packers. Dallas has 36 postseason wins and a victory Sunday would tie the Patriots (37 postseason wins) for the most in NFL history. San Francisco has 35 postseason wins.
Do I think Dallas can win this game? Absolutely. But the NFL did the Cowboys no favors whatsoever by having them play Monday night to conclude the Wild Card Round and now on a short week having to travel, while the Niners played on Saturday in that round, winning their 11th straight game, and obviously got to stay home. Huge advantage.
That said, my Cowboys pick here is based largely on the two quarterbacks. Dak Prescott tied for the NFL regular-season lead with 15 picks but played his best game of the season Monday in beating the Bucs, throwing for 305 yards and four scores and rushing for another.
It marked his fourth consecutive postseason game with a rushing touchdown, the longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history. It was also Prescott’s fourth career playoff game with both a touchdown pass and a rushing TD, tied for the third-most such games ever. We pretty much know what Prescott is.
Seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy has truly been sensational for the 49ers, but if you watched San Francisco’s Wild Card win over Seattle, “Mr. Irrelevant” really struggled in the first half before settling down and becoming the first rookie QB ever with four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in a playoff game and with the most passing yards (332) by a player making his first career playoff start since 1937.
Purdy will become only the 10th rookie quarterback to start a Divisional game since the 1970 merger. There’s a reason no rookie QB has ever won a Super Bowl.
The Dallas defense, led by coordinator Dan Quinn, now the betting favorite at the top-rated books to be the next head coach of the Denver Broncos, and linebacker Micah Parsons, is miles better than Seattle’s and led the NFL in takeaways. That unit can rattle Purdy.
NFL Pick: Cowboys (+180) at FanDuel