NFL Divisional Round Upset Prediction | Second-Round Favorite Projected To Lose

Last Updated: Jan 22, 2022

The NFL Playoffs are upon us. The Divisional Round features a medley of games that could all provide plenty of entertainment, but only one here stands out with the most upset potential.

Thanks to an excellent sample size of games to judge teams on, team-adjusted stats like DVOA have a ton of value. We also have to be aware of how injuries have affected teams to this point.

As always, context is key.

With that in mind, let’s dive into our NFL Divisional Round upset prediction and best bets.

Please note that all NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 20.

San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers Upset Pick

This game is becoming a staple of the NFC playoffs. This will be the fourth meeting between the 49ers and Packers since 2012.

All three games played thus far have been won by the 49ers. Sunday’s game will be the second of the four played in Lambeau Field, which is where the closest of the three previous games occurred.

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Green Bay having home-field advantage in January is a massive boost, but they still shouldn’t be as favored despite possessing the NFC’s best record and the NFL’s MVP.

The reason for San Francisco’s dominance this past decade is simply the philosophy by which each team plays. Green Bay’s run defense this season is the fifth-worst in the NFL, while San Francisco ranks fifth in rushing offense by attempts per game and DVOA.

Over the past three playoff matchups, here is Green Bay’s rushing defense ranking vs San Francisco’s rushing offense:

  • 2012: Packers 13th in rush defense, 49ers fifth in rush offense
  • 2013: Packers 31st in rush defense, 49ers 14th in rush offense (fifth in attempts/game)
  • 2019: Packers 28th in rush defense, 49ers seventh in rush offense

Whether it be Greg Roman or Kyle Shanahan calling the shots for San Francisco, it didn’t matter as the 49ers have maintained an identity as a rushing team. It worked so well in 2019 that Jimmy Garoppolo famously threw just eight passes in a game that his side scored 37!

Not only do the 49ers have that matchup advantage, but they also have a plethora of versatile weapons in the passing game now. Garoppolo isn’t nearly as good as Aaron Rodgers, yet that might not matter given the way their receivers can be utilized as extensions of the rushing game.

The trio of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle excels after the catch, so Garoppolo’s task is much easier to achieve.

The one caveat could be the status of Nick Bosa. He left the Wild Card game due to a collision with his own teammate and only recently returned to practice.

Bosa is one of the NFL’s best defenders and is the glue that holds together a defense that does not necessarily pop with blue-chippers or name value.

Green Bay is down their field stretcher Marquez Valdes-Scantling and potentially LT David Bakhtiari as well. The pair did not practice Thursday, which casts doubt on their playing status this weekend.

Bakhtiari has been dealing with health issues all season and only returned for Week 18 against the Lions to play 27 snaps. While he remains one of the league’s best tackles, he could be a liability if performing below 100%.

Upset Prediction: 49ers 26, Packers 20

49ers vs Packers Upset Best Bets

Upset Bet: 49ers Moneyline (+200) at Caesars

Wager: 2 Units

A good rule of thumb in any matchup — especially the playoffs — is just going by the team with the better quarterback. That would obviously be Rodgers, but he has a lot working against him with another middling defense and a limited array of weapons.

The Packers have Davante Adams and a solid run game, but even with San Francisco’s pass defense looking weaker than usual, they remain second in rush defense by DVOA.

This essentially leaves the game in the hands of Rodgers and Adams alone — which would be a fine bet in any other matchup — but against a team that has had their number for years, even home-field advantage won’t save them, making this our NFL bet of the day.

Upset Pick: Under 47 Total Points (-110) at Caesars

Wager: 1 Unit

These are two of the slowest teams in the NFL, and the frigid Green Bay weather is likely not helping either. San Francisco plays at the fourth-slowest pace and fifth-slowest in neutral scenarios, while Green Bay is dead-last in total pace and second-to-last in neutral.

Yes, each team’s strength is the opposing defense’s weak spot, but this game of chess may be played as meticulously as possible by both head coaches.


Kev Mahserejian

Kev Mahserejian is an NFL/NBA/MLB analyst at The Game Day, residing in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2017 and began creating sports content soon after. Kev currently writes fantasy and betting pieces while also hosting his podcast The Operating Room with various guests from the sports industry to discuss topics primarily regarding fantasy. He also writes for RotoBaller and is quite active on his Twitter @RotoSurgeon.

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