NBA Playoffs Divisional Round Picks Podcast - 12 January 2021
Coming off a 5-1 week in the Super Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, Bob and Ben Dunkel take a look at this weekend’s Divisional round in their latest podcast.
Here’s how our podcasters break it down:
LA RAMS AT GREEN BAY
The Rams defense shut down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense, while the LA offense got a boost out of Cam Akers 131 yards and a TD in 30-20 win on Saturday. QB Jared Goff was forced back into duty when John Wolford went down early and was adequate as he went 9 for 19 for 155 yards and a TD. But the biggest story continues to be the defense, which finished the season ranked No. 1 passing yards, total yards and points scored, and did not disappoint in their first playoff road test.
That unit will have a big challenge again this week against a Green Bay offense that finished 5th in total yards and 1st in points scored (31.8 ppg). The Pack capped off the regular season with 6 straight wins, topping the 30 point mark in 5 of those games. Aaron Rodgers has put up MVP numbers (4,299 yards, 48 TDs) and Davante Adams has been at the end of most of those connections (115 catches, 1,374 yards, 18 TDs).
It's a classic battle of a stout defense versus a high-powered offense and Dunkel sees the Rams D keeping this within the spread. LA comes in with a 13-6 ATS record in their last 19 road games and they are able to build on that in this matchup. Dunkel’s Pick: LA Rams (+7.5).
BALTIMORE AT BUFFALO
Defense was also the story in the Ravens 20-13 win over the Titans. Baltimore held Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries and allowed the Ravens offense to nearly double the Tennessee offense in total yards (401-209). Lamar Jackson responded well to criticism that Baltimore couldn’t win in the postseason with a 179-yard passing and 136-yard rushing day that included a 48-yard TD bolt.
The Bills also ended a postseason skid with their first playoff victory since 1995 in a 27-24 win over Indianapolis. And they did it in familiar fashion as Josh Allen threw for 324 yards and Stephon Diggs had 6 catches for 128 yards and a TD. Of concern was a defense that allowed Indy to get back into the game with two 4th quarter drives and was outgained 472-297. As a defense that ranked only 17th against the run this year, they could have a tough time in corralling Jackson and a Ravens offense that ranked No. 1 in rushing.
The Ravens are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after topping 150 yards rushing in the previous game, while the Bills are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 January games. Dunkel has Baltimore to win this one straight up. Dunkel’s Pick: Baltimore (+2.5).
CLEVELAND AT KANSAS CITY
While we’re on the subject of exorcising postseason demons, how about the Cleveland Browns, who made their first postseason trip since 2002 a memorable one with 48-37 win over Pittsburgh. The Browns scored 14 seconds into the game and led 28-0 late in the first quarter. Cleveland did it without head coach Kevin Stefanski and other players and coaches who were out because of covid. While playing prevent, the defense did allow Ben Roethlisberger to throw for over 500 yards and 4 TDs.
Pass defense has been a problem all year for the Browns, who ranked just 22nd in passing yards. And those numbers should look pretty juicy for Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense, which was first in the league in passing yards (303.4 ypg) and total yards (415.8 ypg).
The Browns come in with a 2-9 ATS record in their last 11 games after allowing over 30 points, while the Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 playoff home games. Coming off a bye, the Chiefs should be rested and ready to roll against a suspect Cleveland defense. Dunkel’s Pick: Kansas City (-9.5).
TAMPA BAY AT NEW ORLEANS
There was nothing new about Drew Brees and Tom Brady winning playoff games. Brady threw for 381 yards and 2 TDs, becoming the oldest player to throw a postseason TD pass by besting the previous mark held by George Blanda, as the Bucs beat the Washington Football Team, 31-23.
Brees wasn’t quite as impressive, but still solid with throwing for 265 yards and 2 TDs in the Saints 21-9 win over the Bears. New Orleans won both regular season matchups against Tampa Bay, including a 38-3 debacle for the Bucs on their home field back in early November during which Brady threw 3 INTs. But this is a different Bucs offense right now and the defense, which finished the regular season ranked No. 1 against the run, No. 6 in total yards and No. 8 in scoring, should be able to challenge a Saints offense that only scored 21 points against the Bears.
The Bucs are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog, while the Saints are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games versus a team with a winning record. Third time is a charm for Tampa Bay as the Bucs finally break through and beat the Saints when it matters most. Dunkel’s Pick: Tampa Bay (+3.5).