Odds, analysis and predictions for Saturday’s NFL playoff games

Home teams in CAPS:

CINCINNATI BENGALS (-5.5) over Las Vegas Raiders; Over 49

One of my favorite handicapping angles during the regular season involves fading teams with quick turnarounds, particularly after rousing wins. That situation rarely presents itself in the first week of the postseason, but here we are with the Raiders, who played a full overtime Sunday night that ended with them knocking the hated-rival Chargers out of the playoffs. Now they have to play the Saturday afternoon game in Cincinnati, traveling three time zones east to face a Bengals team that rested Joe Burrow and many of its stars last week.

Do I expect guys such as Derek Carr, Hunter Renfrow and Maxx Crosby to say, “Man, I’m just too tired!”? Not at all. Those are tough guys who led the Raiders through a minefield of adversity to a playoff berth. But the situation does help the Bengals, who have a lot of ways to put up points, with Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and, if healthy, Tee Higgins. The Bengals won 32-23 at Las Vegas in November, and this should be more of the same.

Bengals, 34-17

Ja’Marr Chase and the Bengals will win and cover against the Raiders.
Getty Images

BUFFALO BILLS (-4) over New England Patriots; Under 44

Is it possible Bill Belichick used up all of his remaining magic when he coached the Patriots to a 14-10 victory over the Bills by calling just three passes on that windswept, North Pole-like night in Orchard Park in early December? Since then, the Patriots are 1-3 SU and ATS, the only success a 50-10 home rout of the Jaguars. Last week, needing a win to have a shot at the AFC East title, the Patriots came up small, losing 33-24 at Miami.

Meanwhile, the Bills are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS since that meeting. Their OT loss at Tampa Bay featured a 17-3, fourth-quarter comeback that turned around Buffalo’s sagging season. On Dec. 26, the Bills went into Foxborough and won, 33-21, as one-point underdogs. I think that game is a better approximation of where these two teams are now. Belichick is still Belichick, but he has the rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, while the other side has the perennial MVP candidate, Josh Allen.

Bills, 24-16