NFC Divisional Round NFL Picks Against the Spread

by | Jan 21, 2022

The two games in the NFC have plenty of storylines. Green Bay hosts San Francisco, while the Los Angeles Rams travel across the country to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Can the defending Super Bowl champions make it back? Is this all setting up to be an Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady game in a week? These are the picks against the spread in the NFC divisional round.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers -5.5

This is the biggest spread of the divisional round in the NFL this year. The Green Bay Packers hope that they can cruise to a victory as they make a push for a possible Super Bowl berth. It’s not going to be super easy, especially with San Francisco coming in riding high off of that emotional win against the Dallas Cowboys.

First, a look at how San Francisco comes into this contest. They have a unique style of play that puts them in the game with just about any team out there. They consistently win the battle in the trenches, and they look to do more the same as Green Bay. They’ll need all the edges they can get against a very talented Green Bay team. Some of their shakiness could turn this into an ugly contest if they don’t get it under control.

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Jimmy Garoppolo needs to be a little bit better when it comes to handling the pressure and coming up clutch in the biggest moments. He’s been making way too many mistakes this year, and the late interception against Dallas gave the Cowboys a chance to win last week. That type of play is just not going to work against a great Green Bay team.

Another thing working against San Francisco is that they have to deal with a somewhat short week. Meanwhile, Green Bay is coming in well-rested. The talk right now is that Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith will both be healthy enough to play for Green Bay thanks to the bye week, which is only going to add more fuel to the fire.

What scares Green Bay backers in this one? San Francisco has a running game that is extremely impressive. However, if Green Bay can find a way to score early on, the running game won’t be nearly as effective since they will have to make more passes to come from behind. The weather could play a role in this one as it is at Lambeau Field, but it’s not expected to be completely terrible, all things considered.

It’s very easy to fall in love with San Francisco’s gritty attitude and the ability to stay around in games that they seem outclassed. However, Green Bay is full of veterans that have had success at many different levels throughout their careers. There’s also the Aaron Rodgers factor, which should never be overlooked. He’s had another MVP caliber season, and this is his time to shine in the playoffs. Green Bay should be able to win this game. Picking them to cover the point spread is a little more challenging. With that said, Green Bay’s offense does a little bit more and finds a way to win by at least a touchdown. Rodgers and his side are just too locked in to let an opportunity like this slip away.

Pick: Green Bay Packers -5.5

Over/Under 47

Don’t expect this to be a high-scoring game. Rodgers will get his as far as offense is concerned, but Green Bay‘s defense will be the reason why they win this game with relative ease. They are already a strong defense, but now getting Alexander and Smith back means that they will have two more All-Pros to count on. Even if they are not 100%, they will be able to make an impact during some of the game. This allows Green Bay to take a few more chances overall.

San Francisco has a solid defense as well, which means Green Bay won’t be throwing the ball all over them. If they can get Nick Bosa back and he can put pressure on Rodgers, the offense will struggle to put up too many points.

Playing a January game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay is always an adventure. Handling the cold temperatures is relatively easy for Rodgers at this point in his career, but Garoppolo might not be exactly the same. Even though the over/under is pretty low, this game could be a race to see who gets to 21 points first.

Pick: Under 47

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3

This game is virtually a tossup with personnel, but Tampa Bay comes in as the small favorite because they are playing in front of their home crowd. After taking care of business in the opening round, Tampa Bay hopes to move one step closer to defending their Super Bowl title. They’ll have to take on a talented Rams team that could have a bit of a struggle traveling across the country to play in this one on short rest.

Everyone knows what Tampa Bay has at this point. Tom Brady is not the same type of quarterback he once was, but he still gets the job done in a variety of ways. He’ll find ways to find his top targets, but one of the concerning things coming into this one is stopping Los Angeles’ pass rush. Tampa Bay doesn’t have the best offensive line anyway, but some injuries in the last few weeks will put even more pressure on Brady to get rid of the ball fast. Finding that rhythm will be important early on, as Los Angeles tries to come after him often.

The secondary for Tampa Bay is also pretty vulnerable. The question will be whether or not Matthew Stafford can make them pay. Philadelphia failed to do anything with that vulnerability, but Sean McVay and his team have had plenty of time to gameplan for this one. Stafford had a great game against Arizona, doing what was needed. He handled the blitz with relative ease. If he has more time to sit back and find a target, it could be a great advantage for the quarterback.

Los Angeles has the keys to pulling off a slight upset in this one, as long as they get some production out of their injured players. Guys like Josh Wells and Ryan Jensen are all looking to give it a go, even though they have had some injury issues in recent memory. They might not be at 100%, but having them back on the field adds depth and gives them the opportunity.

It might seem a little cliché to go with both favorites in the AFC, but they are here for a reason. Both Green Bay and Tampa Bay have veteran quarterbacks who know how to manage games and be their best when it matters most. For Los Angeles, they’re just facing too many hurdles to pull off the win. They’ll keep it close, but the spread is not enough to take them even with the points. The Buccaneers are the safer pick.

Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3

Over/Under 48.5

As far as the over/under is concerned, this is a bit of a challenge. The Los Angeles Rams relied on the running game quite a bit against Arizona, throwing the ball just 18 times. They don’t have the most reliable quarterback in Matthew Stafford, and Cam Akers has been very solid on the ground. However, if they fall behind, they have no option but to pass more.

Tampa Bay‘s offense can look outstanding at times, but their offensive line issues have stagnated them a bit. Brady may accumulate some pretty good stats, but it won’t be on big plays. Expect it to be a close game with both teams playing to their strengths. This could lead to a pretty low amount of scoring.

It’s not the most confident pick in the world, but taking under is the better option right now. Keep in mind that both defenses will have plenty of film to go over so that they are prepared for this matchup. It should be a bit more of a defensive battle just like a lot of postseason games.

Pick: Under 48.5

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