The 2023 playoffs are here. We kick off the Divisional Round with two clashes of epic proportions. We see both top seeds in the AFC and the NFC in action to see if they can continue down their path toward a Super Bowl win.
Going by our nERD-based power rankings, this could be a scintillating day of football. The Kansas City Chiefs, our second-ranked squad, host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are ranked eighth. In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, who rank fifth, host the sixth-seeded and 17th-ranked New York Giants.
Using NFL odds and totals from FanDuel Sportsbook, where can we find value from these contests?
All star ratings are out of five from numberFire's model.
Jaguars +8.5 (-115) - 2 Stars
Jaguars ML (+370) - 2 Stars
Over 52.5 (-106) - Lean
The bye-week teams kick off first, and the starts with Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs can. Can they continue their post-season dominance in the AFC? After a sour taste in their mouth after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game -- one step from the Super Bowl -- you better believe that the Chiefs are looking to get back to the Big Game.
Among quarterbacks with at least 150 drop backs this season, and attempting to make his case to add to his hefty list of superlatives, Mahomes has been outstanding. He clocks in behind only Brock Purdy in terms of Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back at 0.31. His passing success rate of 54.45% is the best mark in all of the NFL.
Trevor Lawrence has been pretty darn impressive within his own right; his 0.17 Passing NEP per drop mark ranks him 10th among all passers this season.
Switching to the ground games, Kansas City has been rock solid in this instance. Rookie Isiah Pacheco has been a highly efficient runner, logging a 0.05 Rushing NEP per rush mark over 170 carries on the season. He sits right next to second-year man Travis Etienne of the Jags, who posted 0.04 Rushing NEP per carry. While Jerick McKinnon has been the primary pass catcher for the Chiefs, Etienne has nabbed 36 receptions so far this year.
Kansas City checks in with the league's best offense, but they rank only 21st overall on the defensive side of the ball in our nERD ranks.
Jacksonville has been pretty strong offensively (10th), and they boast the 15th-best defense for the year. After going through all that, it's easy to see why the Chiefs are home favorites. Kansas City is an 8.5-point favorite and is priced at -132 on the moneyline.
Our model sees value in the Jaguars -- both on the spread and the moneyline. We project the Chiefs to win 29.10-23.34, but obviously, this narrow margin could equal a Jacksonville cover. We give them a 61.8% chance to cover the 8.5-point spread. The Jags have been a mediocre against-the-spread (ATS) bet, going 9-9-0 this year, but Kansas City is only 6-10-1 this year.
The total is 52.5 points. We side with the under, projecting it to cash 51.75% of the time.
It's worth noting that 68% of the cash and 64% of the bets are on the home team, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
Giants +7.5 (-115) - 2 Stars
Giants ML (+290) - 1 Star
Over 48.5 (-106) - 2 Stars
The Eagles will look to get back to their winning ways, counting on a healthy Jalen Hurts in order to get there.
After missing a few games at the end of the season, Hurts is the star of this contest featuring two NFC East divisional rivals. The Giants are riding high after a road victory over the Minnesota Vikings, and the Eagles last took the field against these same Giants in Week 18, winning 22-16 at home. The Eagles also took the earlier road tilt between them, smashing the Giants 48-22.
Hurts, who was in contention for the NFL MVP award, has had truly an outstanding season. Hurts ranks 11th in Passing NEP per pass (0.15), and he's added a ton of value on the ground, carrying the ball a whopping 145 times for a Rushing NEP per carry mark of 0.51. That'll do, donkey.
Daniel Jones is in the middle of the pack using Passing NEP per pass (19th), and he has a surprising amount of nimbleness in those legs, carrying the ball 120 times for an even higher 0.54 Rushing NEP per carry mark.
Switching to the ground games, the Eagles fly here yet again. Miles Sanders ranks second-best among runners with 150 or more carries, logging a Rushing NEP per rush mark of 0.13 -- just behind Atlanta's rookie Tyler Allgeier. Workhorse Saquon Barkley has been no slouch, either. His 0.02 Rushing NEP per carry marks clocks him in just above the league average, and his 304 carries are one of the league's highest marks.
Philly has been tough on both sides of the ball. They rank third on offense, including the league's top rushing offense, and their ninth-ranked defense can claim they have the league's toughest pass defense in our nERD rankings. The Giants rank ninth offensively, including the second-best rushing offense, but only have the league's 27th-ranked defense.
Our model loves the Giants and the points, thinking they cover this touchdown spread 60.1% of the time. We project the Eagles to win 28.68-23.13, but obviously, this narrow margin could equal a Giants cover. The Giants have been the best bet in the league to cover, as they are sporting a 14-4 ATS mark on the year.
The total is 48.5 points. We side with the over, projecting it to cash 59.06% of the time. Philly has won 8 of the last 10 head-to-head matchups between these two teams.
It's worth noting -- and a bit surprising -- that 60% of the cash and 66% of the bets are on the Giants, per FanDuel Sportsbook.