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NFL game picks for Divisional Playoffs

The best four teams will advance over this Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs concludes. I have my top four picked and, yes, the picks are obvious.

Dwight Clark in Air During Game

Many of you who have followed MHR for years and know my work, know that I’ve always been a huge fan of DVOA. Over the years I have come to trust it more than the sometimes random PFF grading system. I found some very interesting data from DVOA this week that I felt was worth sharing. In fact, all of my predictions are going to reference DVOA in this post.

For the NFL playoffs, I’m going to make my own picks and do a brief preview of each game. This post will continued to be sponsored by our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook. So let’s get to it!

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)

Where: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
When: 2:30 PM MST on Saturday, January 21, 2023
Line: Kansas City by 9
Jaguars Total DVOA: +2.2% (13th)
Chiefs Total DVOA: +23.0% (4th)

The Cinderella comeback the Jaguars enjoyed after losing to the Denver Broncos in London midway through the season will come to an end. Every single team that won last week had a higher total DVOA than their opponent. Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Chargers had the worst DVOA of all the AFC playoff teams and lost to the Jaguars who have the second-worst.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs are among the league’s best in terms of DVOA. There isn’t a situation where I’d take the Jaguars here unless it was to cover the nine point spread.

Prediction: Chiefs 33, Jaguars 28

New York Giants (10-7-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: 6:15 PM MST on Saturday, January 21, 2023
Line: Philadelphia by 7.5
Giants Total DVOA: -3.0% (20th)
Eagles Total DVOA: +25.3% (3rd)

The Giants are coming off a victory over the biggest 13-win fraud in recent NFL history. The Minnesota Vikings ranked 27th in total DVOA, which means they shouldn’t have been a playoff team. The luck factor heavily tilted in their favor in close games this season.

Much like the Chiefs game, I don’t see how the Giants lose this game. I think Jalen Hurts gets on a roll in this game and the Eagles run away with it on their way to the NFC Championship Game.

Prediction: Eagles 40, Giants 23

Cincinnati Bengals (13-4) at Buffalo Bills (14-3)

Where: Highmark Stadium in Buffalo, New York
When: 1:00 PM MST on Sunday, January 22, 2023
Line: Buffalo by 5.5
Bengals Total DVOA: +18.4% (6th)
Bills Total DVOA: +36.5% (1st)

The NFL has been blessed with two “Game of the Week” type matchups. The first being this matchup between the Bengals and Bills. The Monday Night Football game in Week 17 that was cancelled. As good as the Chiefs are, I think the winner of this game will ultimately represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

My preseason Super Bowl winner was the Buffalo Bills, so I am going to ride this horse until it the rug is pulled. As far as DVOA goes, the Bills are the only team to have Top 5 DVOA rankings on offense (4th), defense (4th), and special teams (1st).

Prediction: Bills 26, Bengals 23

Dallas Cowboys (13-5) at San Francisco 49ers (14-4)

Where: Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
When: 4:30 PM MST on Saturday, January 22, 2023
Line: San Francisco by 4
Cowboys Total DVOA: +20.3 (5th)
49ers Total DVOA: +29.2 (2nd)

As much as many of us meme on the Dallas Cowboys whenever possible, they have put together a surprisingly strong team in 2022. Their DVOA suggests they are a true contender, but must get past the team with the best DVOA in the NFC first. The 49ers and Bills are the only two squads to rank in the top five in DVOA on both offense and defense. Considering the team with the higher total DVOA was 6-0 during Super Wild Card Weekend, its something we should look at when predicting outcomes.

This game could be a wild back and forth style game that comes down to the wire and the arm of rookie Brock Purdy. Will his magical season continue? I think so.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Cowboys 27

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