Home » NFL odds, picks, predictions for playoffs: Expert model projects Bills topple Chiefs, 49ers crush Packers in divisional games | Sporting News United Kingdom

NFL odds, picks, predictions for playoffs: Expert model projects Bills topple Chiefs, 49ers crush Packers in divisional games | Sporting News United Kingdom

NFL fans were expecting a weekend full of close matchups between teams that had fought through a 17-game gauntlet to get to the playoffs. What they wound up getting was five games decided by two scores, and only one matchup that felt like it actually came down to the wire.

C.J. Stroud continued his phenomenal rookie season by torching the Browns’ vaunted defense to lead the Texans to a win, and Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense caught fire in the frigid Kansas City air to wallop the Dolphins. The Packers then stunned the Cowboys in a blowout. On Monday, the Bills stayed two steps ahead of Pittsburgh just about all game, and the Buccaneers finished the Eagles’ late-season meltdown with a one-sided blowout.

Only the Lions and Rams delivered a compelling battle, with Jared Goff out-dueling Matthew Stafford and delivering Detroit its first playoff win since the 1991 season.

Heading into the divisional round of the playoffs, there’s a chance more blowouts could be on the way. According to odds on Caesars, three of the four matchups have favorites listed at 6.5 points or more, typically a sign of extreme confidence in that team’s ability to handle the opponent. And Sporting News’ projection model sees the weekend slate as somehow being even more lopsided than that. Overall in wild-card weekend, the model was 4-2 straight up and 3-3 against the spread.

MORE NFL PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread

Each week, Sporting News’ model will project every game in the NFL 10,000 times to generate the number of times a team wins a matchup and calculate the win probability. The model adjusts after each week as it learns more about each team and that team’s quarterback.

Listed for each game is its projected spread, according to the model, and a team’s win probability. We’ve also included updated playoff and Super Bowl odds at the bottom. The odds listed with each game are not based on bookmakers, but rather how the model sees the game playing out. We will then compare the model’s odds with those from Caesars Sportsbook, to see how bookmakers are seeing the week’s games.

Here’s how the model sees the divisional round of the playoffs shaping up.

NFL picks, predictions for divisional round

Ravens (-17) vs. Texans

Win probability: 92.2%, Ravens

It has been a magical run for Stroud and the Texans. From last place in 2022 to first place in the AFC South in 2023, led by the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year and one of the top candidates for Coach of the Year in DeMeco Ryans. 

But the model likes the Ravens to win big. Why? They are extremely well rested with two weeks off for their starters, which adds a major bonus to the equation. Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP-level, and the Texans have at times struggled defensively against top-tier offenses. Caesars doesn’t quite like the Ravens to win by as much as the model, but as 9-point favorites, Vegas still sees Baltimore as a runaway favorite to win.

49ers (-15) vs. Packers

Win probability: 89.1%, 49ers

Who could have seen this coming? No team had ever emerged from the No. 7 seed to reach the divisional round of the playoffs. Somehow, the Packers, the youngest team in the league, bludgeoned the Cowboys and sent Dallas spiraling into an offseason of uncertainty. 

Green Bay has been red-hot and the 49ers lost two of their final three games. But San Francisco has been a juggernaut all season, and now hosts the No. 7 seed with two weeks of rest. Caesars has the 49ers as the heaviest favorite of the weekend as 9.5-point favorites, while the model sees San Francisco as massive 15-point favorites, just behind the Ravens as the second-biggest favorites.

Lions (-12) vs. Buccaneers

Win probability: 84.4%, Lions

The Lions are back in the playoff win column. All it took was taking down their long-time quarterback and former first overall pick in Stafford. Detroit appears to be clicking on all cylinders on offense, even if the defense has had some issues against the pass at times.

Tampa Bay is also coming in with plenty of momentum. The Buccaneers have now won six of their past seven games that have sent them to an NFC South title and a playoff win over the Eagles. Baker Mayfield is playing well, but heading on the road will give a boost to the Lions, who are favored by Caesars by 6.5 points. The model likes Detroit to win by even more, favoring the Lions by 12.

Bills (-4) vs. Chiefs

Win probability: 63.4%, Bills

This has become one of the classic postseason rivalries. The Bills and Chiefs have met in the playoffs twice in the playoffs in recent years, in the 2020 AFC Championship and the 2021 AFC divisional round. Both times, Kansas City won in thrilling matchups.

But Mahomes has never had to play a true road playoff game, and Buffalo is going to be a rowdy environment as it hosts Josh Allen’s long-time boogeyman. The Bills have been a streakier team this season, but they’re also on a hot streak, while Kansas City has looked shaky at times down the stretch, even if it handled the Dolphins without much of an issue. Caesars has the Bills as 2.5-point favorites, while the model also sees Buffalo as a 4-point favorite.

Updated NFL projections 2024

AFC

Team Div win% Conf win% SB win%
Ravens 92.4% 67.8% 39.5%
Bills 63.4% 19.5% 7.9%
Chiefs 36.6% 11.5% 4.8%
Texans 7.6% 1.2% 0.3%

NFC

Team Div win% Conf win% SB win%
49ers 89.2% 59.5% 30.3%
Lions 83.7% 34.9% 15.5%
Buccaneers 16.3% 3.5% 1.1%
Packers 10.8% 2.1% 0.6%