First day of NFL divisional playoffs tastes like chalk: Best Bets for Jan. 21

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to throw against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Saturday, Jan. 21:


The play: NFL playoffs, Chiefs over 30.5 team total vs. Jaguars

The odds: -120

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 4:30 p.m. (NBC)

Our take: Even with inflated lines, the Chiefs in the playoffs under Patrick Mahomes have become a great bet. They’re 7-4 against the spread and 6-3 ATS at Arrowhead Stadium.

The problem here is that the spread has become a bit inflated, rising to 9 and even 9½ in some places. I still like KC laying the points, but the higher that number gets, it starts to feel dicey, and teasers are definitely out now that the 6 points don’t get you below -3.

Instead, we’re going with an oft-forgotten prop here with the team total. The Chiefs need to get to 31 points, which seems like a lot until you consider that Mahomes has gotten the Chiefs to 31 points in eight of 11 career playoff games, including four of five wild-card or divisional games. On the other side, the Jaguars have given up these point totals the last five times they faced teams with winning records: 27, 27, 40, 34, 30, the last of those last week’s 31-30 miracle comeback over the Chargers.

There will be no miracle this time. The Jaguars might score some points in chase mode, and that makes the spread less attractive. But the Chiefs, who racked up 486 yards on Jacksonville in November despite losing three possessions to two turnovers and a successful Jaguars onside kick, should get into the 30s easily.


The play: NFL playoffs, Eagles -7½ over Giants

The odds: -115

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. (Fox)

Our take: Look, the Giants are a popular pick this week, and why not? They just beat the Vikings, took the Eagles to the wire in Week 18 — with lots of backups playing — and generally have just had a magical season. Big Blue is back, and they’re getting more than a touchdown!

Hold on just a hot minute before you bet the underdog, though. Consider that Philadelphia is getting back to full strength, with right tackle Lane Johnson practicing in full and quarterback Jalen Hurts not even listed on the injury report. Few teams could have benefited from the top seed and the bye more than the Eagles, who should look more like the team we saw the first 14 weeks and less like the team we saw the last four.

The G-Men are a great story, and Brian Daboll should probably be the Coach of the Year. He gives New York an advantage over almost anyone. But it won’t matter in this one if it’s not close. I’m expecting both Saturday games to bring us back to the NFC playoffs in the 1990s when the divisional round was simply a warm-up for the top seeds, who were punching in a different weight class. That’s the case for the Eagles here.


Friday’s best bets

NBA: Jazz -7.5 over Nets (LOST)

Australian Open: Tommy Paul/Novak Djokovic ML parlay (WON)

Friday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 1-8

Total for January: 18-20

Total for 2023: 18-20

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).


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