NFL playoff picks against the spread: Can Chargers keep rolling on the road?

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) throws a pass in the second half of the wild-card game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Each Friday of the 2018 NFL playoffs, we’ll be picking every game against the spread.

Here are the picks for the Divisional Round.

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (-5)
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
The Pick: Chiefs

There’s plenty of reason to think the Colts can keep it close at Arrowhead given last weekend’s dominant performance against the Texans, and 56 per cent of bettors are now leaning with Indy as the underdog.

But it feels like many have been quick to forget how dominant this Chiefs team can be, and you can bet they’ve heard the seeds of doubt that have been planted since the Colts’ wild-card win.

The Chiefs haven’t won a home playoff game since January 1994, a streak that ends this Saturday – and it’ll be by at least at touchdown.

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Pick: Cowboys

It’s true the Cowboys have been a much better team at home this season (8-1, including playoffs) than on the road (3-5), but that away record is a bit deceiving: Dallas is actually 3-1 in its last four road games, and have a formula that has proven to work away from home.

A punishing run game and dominant defence has been the key to the Cowboys’ second-half success this season, and it could pay dividends this weekend in L.A. The Rams finished the regular season with two big wins over the 49ers and Cardinals, but are 0-2 against playoff teams since their Week 11 bye.

Sean McVay’s defence could ultimately come out on top in this game, but I’d bet on Dallas keeping this close.

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (-4)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET
The Pick: Chargers

In what is shaping up to be the most fascinating game of the round, the Chargers head to New England with a perfect record outside of L.A. to face a Patriots team that was the only one to win every home game this season.

A streak comes to an end this weekend, and I’m betting its New England’s.

And while the Philip Rivers-led Chargers offence has plenty of firepower, it’s their defence that will be the difference against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. L.A. has two elite pass rushers in Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, and a secondary packed with playmakers who will punish any mistakes made by New England’s offence.

Obviously, it’s never smart to count out the Patriots, but this Chargers team is the real deal and will at least keep this game to within a field goal.

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-8)
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
The Pick: Eagles

The last time the Eagles were in New Orleans, things didn’t go well: Philly were dominated 48-7, the biggest-ever loss by a defending Super Bowl champion.

But the Eagles team that travels to the Big Easy this Sunday is a different one than the one that took the field on Nov. 18. The offence has been revived thanks to Nick Foles and an offensive line playing at its best and the defence has adjusted brilliantly to a rash of devastating injuries.

The Saints, on the flip side, have not looked the same since that 41-point win over the Eagles: New Orleans has scored 30-plus just once since Week 12 after doing so in nine of their first 11 games.

By no means does this pick mean I’d bet on an Eagles straight-up victory, but Doug Pederson’s team has the capability to keep it close.

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