The Divisional Round of this NFL season concludes this evening, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Cleveland Browns for a spot in the AFC Championship game.
The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl Champions and start the game as 9.5-point favourites, undoubtedly helped by having an extra week to rest and prepare.
The Browns surprised the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, basing their victory on a strong running game. They are likely to rely heavily on Nick Chubb again, probably to a great deal of effect. However, their secondary defence is not seen as a strength, and this is where Patrick Mahomes and his contingent of talented receivers are likely to attack.
We see this being a high scoring game, and the 9.5 handicap may well be a lot. However, we think Mahomes will have plenty of joy throwing the ball. With this in mind, we’ll take Paddy Power’s enhanced 11/2 that Mahomes throws for at least two touchdowns per half.
The late game sees the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to the New Orleans Saints, a potential shootout between two of the leagues great quarterbacks.
The Saints won the two contests between the sides so far this year, but Tom Brady has now settled into his new team and the Bucs looked very dangerous as the regular season came to an end. Brady, at the ripe old age of 43, is having one of the best seasons of his career.
Saints veteran quarterback Drew Brees has also been excellent this season, but that have been signs that his arm strength is not what it was. He still has an outstanding bunch of attacking threats, led by wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara, but we’re leaning towards the big game experience that Brady has in spades.
We’re not sure who wins this game, but we’re going to side with Brady’s arm and wide receiving target Mike Evans to score the opening touchdown. Evans has speed to burn and scored 13 TDs during the regular season.
Chiefs/Browns: Mahomes to throw for 2+ TDs per half, 1 pt, at 11/2, Paddy Power
Saints/Buccaneers: Evans to score first TD, 1 pt, at 12/1, Paddy Power