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Every week during the NFL season, theScore's betting writers release their best bets. Each writer has been given an imaginary $1,000 bankroll to manage throughout the campaign. If you decide to follow any of the picks, please gamble responsibly.
Odds are courtesy of theScore Bet.
Season record: 14-9-2, +431
What I really like about this matchup is the fact that the Titans' greatest strength lines up perfectly with the Chiefs' most glaring weakness. Kansas City allowed 4.9 yards per carry this year, while Tennessee averaged 5.0 yards during the regular season - the second-best mark in the NFL. The Titans have been even better in the postseason, averaging a whopping 5.4 yards per carry and 209 yards per game against two of the league's top defenses.
Tennessee defeated Kansas City 35-32 back in Week 10. The Titans had no answer for Patrick Mahomes (446 yards) in that game, but Derrick Henry ran over the Chiefs' defense for 188 yards and two scores on 23 carries (8.2 yards per carry). Henry has rushed for 180-plus yards in three straight games, so expect the Chiefs to sell out trying to slow him down, opening things up for stud rookie receiver A.J. Brown. Brown has just two catches for 13 yards in the playoffs, but I like him as the X-factor on Sunday. This game goes down to the wire with the Titans having a good shot at the outright upset.
Pick: Titans +7.5 ($100)
Season record: 19-19-1, +$25
I've been doing my best to out the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers as overrated pretenders for some time now. The Seahawks got what was coming to them last week, and now the Packers are about to get theirs. Green Bay posted league-average numbers across the board this season and was outgained overall through 16 weeks, as well as in the divisional round against Seattle.
The Packers were 17th in the NFL in yards per play this season and averaged just 5.8 last week at home against a brutal Seattle defense. They now travel to the West Coast to face the league's best defensive unit - at least when healthy, which it is now. The 49ers made Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs look like replacement-level talents last week. Aaron Rodgers will need to pull more than just a rabbit out of his hat to keep this game competitive.
San Francisco's offense, on the other hand, will have no issue running all over a Green Bay defense that ranked 24th in yards allowed per rush this season. It's often foolish to put stock in previous meetings, but the 49ers are better and healthier than they were when they routed the Packers 37-8 in Week 12. Green Bay, meanwhile, is very much the same team. San Francisco should have no problem covering this number.
Pick: 49ers -7.5 ($100)
Season record: 14-11, -$22
I don't have much of a lean on either side or on the total, so my contributions will have to come in the player prop market. The Seahawks fell behind early last week and were thus unable to take full advantage of a Green Bay rush defense ranked 23rd in DVOA, yet Seattle still posted a respectable 4.6 yards per rush. If the 49ers can play in a positive game script and grab an early lead, look for Jimmy Garoppolo's passing yards to go under. He averaged the fewest yards per attempt of any quarterback during the regular season, and I don't think he's in for a shootout against a Packers defense that San Francisco can tear apart on the ground.
Pick: Jimmy Garoppolo under 248.5 passing yards ($50)
Season record: 17-19-3, -$324
It feels like we're saying this on a weekly basis now, but the Titans could pose some serious matchup problems for their opponent. The Chiefs' defense ranked second-worst against the run this year, according to Pro Football Focus, which isn't what you want to hear when Derrick Henry's gone three straight games rushing for at least 180 yards.
The Chiefs also struggle to wrap up opposing ball-carriers - again, not great against Henry. Kansas City's improved pass defense, meanwhile, posted its second-worst PFF grade since Week 10 in its matchup with Houston - the Chiefs' first game without safety Juan Thornhill. There are simply too many issues to lay over a touchdown here, and the Titans are no strangers to pulling off playoff upsets.
Pick: Titans +7.5 ($75), Titans +280 ($25)