NFL

NFL Betting Guide: Divisional Round (Saturday)

The high-stakes, single-elimination drama of the NFL's postseason is here.

We're down to eight teams and four games to decide which teams are geared towards Super Bowl LVI.

Saturday's action kicks off with the surprise Cincinnati Bengals hitting the road to take on the steady Tennessee Titans. Then, in the nightcap, the Green Bay Packers will play host the team no one wants to face right now -- the red-hot San Francisco 49ers.

In the most voluminous period of NFL betting, where is the sharp money? What do the wise guys think? Is the public on the wrong side? Let's find out.

Note: All lines come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and lines and/or projections may have changed since the publishing of this article.

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans

Spread: Titans -3.5
Total: 47.0

The surprising, upstart Bengals enter "The Music City" led by star quarterback Joe Burrow.

In the past five weeks including last week's Wild Card win over the Raiders, Burrow has posted 0.50 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back. That's the best mark in the NFL in that time, and it's why you can't count Cincy out against a Titans' pass defense that was just 23rd in numberFire's schedule-adjusted rankings in the regular season.

On the other side, you have the solid, reliable Titans that got here via the small details. They've been without Derrick Henry for over two months, but they've navigated a weaker division to the top overall seed based on their strong overall defense. Tennesee was the eighth-best overall unit in numberFire's aforementioned rankings -- even with some leaks against the pass.

Henry's status makes this so brutally difficult to take a side. He's not even sure if he's playing, and that makes it hard to know if he's 100%. If he was, I'd take the Titans without a second thought. Cincinnati was an average 14th against the rush in our schedule-adjusted rankings, but they just lost Larry Ogunjobi to a season-ending injury. He's a huge loss in the middle.

But, with Henry potentially limited or absent altogether, in a game separated by inches, I'm not taking Ryan Tannehill with the ball in his hands late against a red-hot "Joe Shiesty". I'm willing to die on that hill.

As far as the total, both teams have a plus matchup in their preferred method of offensive efficiency. The Bengals would rather throw, the Titans would rather rush, and both should have a more advantageous matchup defensively doing those two things. However, these teams were also in the bottom-10 ones in terms of seconds per play this season, so stellar efficiency would be the only path to an over.

With no definitive lean on the total, nor a notable take on the outright winner, I'd be hard-pressed to go over a unit on either bet. Still, if I deploy a unit on either side, it would be with the Bengals and the points.

Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Bengals 23-21

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Spread: Packers -6.0
Total: 47.5

Nothing makes me sick quite like an underdog the public loves easily cashing, so I was nauseous most of Sunday as Mike McCarthy threw a massive advantage at quarterback in the trash against the 49ers.

Still, the red-hot Niners deserve this spot that no one in the NFL wanted all season -- a trip to freezing Lambeau Field in January. They're a live dog this weekend as well. Green Bay's kryptonite is their rush defense, which was third-worst in our schedule-adjusted metrics this season. Not only can opponents score points on the ground, but they can control the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. Not good.

Rodgers, the MVP favorite, will have his hands full with a San Francisco pass defense that ranked fifth-best in our schedule-adjusted metrics this season. Most of the year, San Francisco's run defense was the issue, but they were first in total Rushing NEP per carry allowed (-0.16) the last five weeks of the regular season. The Niners may be down Nick Bosa and Fred Warner after they sustained injuries in Dallas.

The pace in this one will be as slow as it can get in the NFL. The 49ers and Packers were 26th and 32nd in seconds per play this season, respectively. That provides some inherent value with the points -- and also some significant concerns with the total.

I expected to like Green Bay with less than a full touchdown to lay, but based on the efficiency matchups, S.F. should control the clock with both Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel. There's a reason why the Niners (and their run-heavy approach) have won three straight playoff games against the Pack.

Ultimately, I do believe it could be a similar game script to this year's 30-28 Packers' win in Santa Clara. In vastly different conditions, the total may not be nearly as high, but Green Bay has a significant edge at signal-caller come crunch time.

The 49ers likely have plenty of success for most of the contest, but Rodgers pulls through late. I'll still have a unit on the Niners' spread in what should be a fun one.

Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Packers 24-22