Jack Ogalbe's tips for the second round of the NFL Playoffs include a dominant win for the AFC's top seed and a defensive battle in Buffalo.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (21:30 Saturday)
The Texans got the wild-card round off to a great start with a 45-14 win over the Browns as home underdogs last week but they may find beating another AFC North opponent beyond them on Saturday.
The Texans are again up first, but this time they are facing AFC number one seeds the Ravens, who have had a week off to rest up and prepare after finishing with the best record in the conference at 13-4.
The Ravens were not far off being unbeaten this season as they held late leads in the games they lost against the Colts, Steelers and Browns, and they looked dominant in a six-game winning streak before fielding their reserves in a Week 18 loss to the Steelers.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to win the league MVP award and the Ravens defence can be expected to put up a better effort against the Texans than the Browns, who produced their worst defensive performance of the season last week.
The Texans are buzzing with rookie quarterback CJ Stroud looking to have a huge future in the game, but they were just 4-4 in road games this season. The Ravens impressed in wide-margin wins over the 49ers and Dolphins in Weeks 16 and 17 and as long as their starters are not rusty after resting since then, they have the potential to overpower the Texans to reach the AFC Championship Game.
Best bet: Ravens -9 @ 10/11
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (01:15 Saturday night)
The Packers were the only road team to win in the six games of the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend, and while they have an even tougher test ahead of them this week, they have a chance to at least keep the contest close when they visit the 49ers, who are the NFC top seeds.
Green Bay stunned second seeds the Cowboys with a 48-32 win after racing into a 27-0 lead in their first playoff outing. They became the first seventh seeds to win a game since the NFL expanded the playoffs to 14 teams in the 2020-21 season and are now setting their sights higher.
The Packers have improved throughout the season with Jordan Love as their quarterback, and have won seven of their last nine games after a 3-6 start.
The 49ers have looked to be the top team in the NFC for most of the season with Brock Purdy at quarterback and Christian McCaffrey leading their rushing attack, but they went through a rough patch when they lost three successive games in October.
A 33-19 home loss to the Ravens showed they can still be vulnerable, and while the 49ers are no strangers to recording wide-margin victories this season, asking them to cover a double-figure handicap against an improving team may be too much.
Best bet: Packers +10 @ 10/11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions (20:00 Sunday)
The Lions won their first playoff game for 32 years when they took a classic encounter 24-23 against the Rams last week and the Buccaneers are set to be walking into a cauldron of noise at Ford Field on Sunday.
The Buccaneers rounded off the wild-card games with an impressive 32-9 win over the Eagles on Monday night, but the visitors had totally lost their form and were losing for the sixth time in their last seven games.
The Bucs have already visited Ford Field once this season, losing 20-6 in October, and they have generally struggled when going up against playoff-calibre teams this season including losses to the Bills, Texans and 49ers.
The Lions are full of confidence after quarterback Jared Goff beat his former team last week, assisted by star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and dangerous running-back duo David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, and they should be able to win by a wider margin this week after their close shave against the Rams.
Best bet: Lions -6 @ 10/11
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills (23:30 Sunday)
A mouthwatering matchup between the Chiefs and Bills may look like a high-scoring shootout at first after their memorable playoff meetings in recent years, but that may not be the case when they face off at Highmark Stadium on Sunday.
The Chiefs won a wild contest at this stage of the 2021-22 playoffs, 42-36 in overtime, having triumphed 38-24 in the AFC Championship game the previous year. This meeting may be more like the teams’ regular-season game this season, however, which the Bills won 20-17 on the road in Week 14.
The Chiefs no longer win with their high-scoring offence or struggle defensively, which was often the case in recent years. These days they lean more heavily on their running game and strong defence for success, and held the Dolphins completely in check in their 26-7 wild-card success.
The Bills are getting hot as the weather turns colder and their win over the Steelers last week was their sixth in a row. They may well have what it takes to beat the Chiefs at home with quarterback Josh Allen in great form, but backing a low-scoring contest may be the best bet.
Best bet: Under 45.5 points @ 10/11
Visit Betway’s NFL odds page.