NFL First Look: Divisional Round
The NFL First Look is complete with sortable odds, implied team totals, pace of play, DVOA rankings and each team’s projected starters to help you get an early start on the upcoming week.
Divisional Round Thoughts
— Before we get into this week’s picks, I want to note that in GPPs during the playoffs, we don’t need to get overly aggressive with our contrarian plays. More often than not, the winning lineups are going to feature a number of chalk plays mixed in with two or three contrarian plays. Rather than pulling an all out fade of the best plays of the week, try to differentiate by taking chances elsewhere. If you expect Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin to be popular and you still like the stack, try differentiating it by making it a double stack by adding another Seahawks’ receiver in there. Or to really differentiate, play Thomas Rawls with your passing game stack. Sometimes people get too cute and fade the best plays strictly due to ownership, but just because a player is highly owned doesn’t mean that he can’t be on the winning lineup.
— After a week of somewhat disappointing games, the Divisional Round should be much better, both in terms of watchability and in terms of fantasy football.
— The Seahawks found a running game against the Lions, but the game was at home and they were never trailing. I fully expect Seattle to lean on Russell Wilson and the passing game this week, as they take on a Falcons’ defense that is ranked 24th in DVOA against the pass. There are a number of great quarterbacks in this slate, but I ultimately expect Wilson to be one of the highest owned players at his position.
— The Falcons’ offense was unstoppable at home during the regular season. In eight games at home, they never scored fewer than 24 points and they averaged 35 per game. They draw a difficult matchup against a Seahawks defense that is ranked 11th in pass DVOA and second in rush DVOA. I’m not overly concerned though, as the Falcons have the second highest implied total in the slate.
— Brock Osweiler ended up having a decent outing against the Raiders in the Wildcard Round, but if you watched that game, you could tell that they don’t trust him one bit. They routinely punted the ball and fourth and short in Raiders’ territory and they ran the ball 44 times ,while Osweiler only had 25 passing attempts. As 16-point underdogs, they may be forced to air it out against the Patriots, which is not a good thing.
— Tom Brady and the Patriots should be able to roll through the Texans this week. Even though Houston was ranked ninth in pass DVOA and 17th in rush DVOA during the regular season, New England has the highest implied total in the slate at 30 points. The only thing that we need to figure out is if the Patriots will do most of their damage through the air with Brady or on the ground with LeGarrette Blount.
— The Steelers’ offense was dominant last week against the Dolphins. Their first three drives were all over 80 yards and all three resulted in touchdowns. If anyone was on Twitter during the fourth quarter, they would have seen a ton of people complaining about their starters being in the game. Sure enough, on his last play from scrimmage, Ben Roethlisberger tweaked his ankle. Throw in the fact that Roethlisberger averages 10.9 fewer points on the road than he does at home and we have some concerns. It could be another Le’Veon Bell 30+ touch game.
— The Chiefs have a chance to advance to the Conference Championship and all they need to do is beat a Steelers team that really struggles to score points on the road. As strange as it sounds, the Chiefs only scored 10 fewer points during the regular season than the Steelers did. I generally don’t have strong takes in games that feature such a low spread, but I really like the Chiefs in this one (although I’d rather see the Steelers square off against the Patriots in the AFC Championship).
— The talk of the week will be around the status of Jordy Nelson. He injured his ribs against the Giants and was unable to return to the game. It’s early in the week, but the Packers don’t seem optimistic about his availability. Ty Montgomery status is also in doubt with an ankle injury. If both players are ruled out, we can safely stack the rest of the Packers’ receiving corps this week against the Cowboys.
— Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have been tremendous all season, but no one will remember their great rookie years if they can’t get it done in the playoffs. The Cowboys may catch a break if Jordy Nelson is unable to suit up, but that sometimes happens when you secure the number one seed in your conference. This game has massive shootout potential, as the over/under is set at 52 points.
1) Numbers in BLUE represent the “elite” category, in approximately the top 25th percentile.
2) Numbers in GREEN represent the “above-average” category, in approximately the top 50th percentile.
3) Numbers in YELLOW represent the “below-average” category, in approximately the bottom 50th percentile.
4) Numbers in RED represent the “poor” category, in approximately the bottom 25th percentile.
NFL Schedule & Vegas Lines
|Road Team||Home Team||Vegas Line||Over/Under||Date||Time||Stadium|
|Seattle Seahawks||at||Atlanta Falcons||ATL -4.5||51.5||Sat, Jan 14||4:35 PM||Georgia Dome|
|Houston Texans||at||New England Patriots||NE -15.5||44.5||Sat, Jan 14||8:15 PM||Gillette Stadium|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||at||Kansas City Chiefs||KC -2.5||45.0||Sun, Jan 15||1:05 PM||Arrowhead Stadium|
|Green Bay Packers||at||Dallas Cowboys||DAL -4.0||52.0||Sun, Jan 15||4:40 PM||AT&T Stadium|
Implied Team Totals & DVOA Matchups
Note: The DVOA rankings in this chart are for the opponent of the offense listed in the first column.
|Offense||Spread||Implied Total||Matchup||Total DVOA||vs. PASS||vs. RUSH||vs. RB (Pass)||vs. WR1||vs. WR2||vs. TE|
|New England Patriots||-15.5||30.0||Houston||11||9||17||28||22||2||1|
|Dallas Cowboys||-4.0||28.0||Green Bay||19||20||12||11||27||31||6|
|Green Bay Packers||+ 4.0||24.0||at Dallas||18||19||8||20||8||18||30|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-2.5||23.8||Pittsburgh||9||13||9||21||32||3||9|
|Seattle Seahawks||+ 4.5||23.5||at Atlanta||27||24||28||27||15||9||15|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||+ 2.5||21.3||at Kansas City||12||4||23||7||17||7||13|
|Houston Texans||+ 15.5||14.5||at New England||16||22||5||23||19||10||18|
Implied Team Totals & DvP Matchups
Note: The DvP rankings in this chart are for the opponent of the offense listed in the first column. They are also adjusted for strength of schedule.
|New England Patriots||-15.5||30.0||Houston||2||21||2||1|
|Dallas Cowboys||-4.0||28.0||Green Bay||29||11||30||19|
|Green Bay Packers||+ 4.0||24.0||at Dallas||16||6||17||28|
|Kansas City Chiefs||-2.5||23.8||Pittsburgh||6||25||9||12|
|Seattle Seahawks||+ 4.5||23.5||at Atlanta||27||31||19||26|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||+ 2.5||21.3||at Kansas City||8||9||24||6|
|Houston Texans||+ 15.5||14.5||at New England||17||4||12||22|
First Look Legend
|DVOA||Football Outsiders’ total defense ranking|
|vs. PASS||DVOA pass defense ranking|
|vs. RB (Run)||DVOA ranking against the run|
|vs. RB (Pass)||DVOA ranking against RBs catching the ball out of the backfield|
|vs. WR1||DVOA ranking vs. WR1s|
|vs. WR2||DVOA ranking vs. WR2s|
|vs. TE||DVOA ranking vs. TEs|