With the NFL’s new 14-team playoffs format, only the top seed in each conference receives a bye and an automatic bid into the Divisional Round.
Theoretically, the teams who receive the bye should have a huge advantage and already be the best team in its respective conference anyway.
FanDuel Sportsbook thought so – at least for the Green Bay Packers. Before Super Wild Card weekend kicked off, the number one seed in the NFC had the best odds to win the Super Bowl at +380.
But the number one seed in the AFC, the Tennessee Titans, did not come next, nor third, nor fourth – Tennessee entered the playoffs with the fifth best odds to win it all at +850, behind the Packers, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Bills.
In fairness, it was unknown if Derrick Henry would play in the Divisional Round until Friday. Kansas City and Tampa Bay were in the big game last season, and Buffalo was in the AFC Championship last season.
But the Titans beat both the Bills and Chiefs earlier this season, including a 27-3 route against Patrick Mahomes and company.
Tennessee beat two other playoff teams – who are both still alive – in the Rams and 49ers, and Henry was available for neither of those games.
After the Titans announced Henry would be activated for their game against the Bengals, Tennessee remained 3.5-point favorites.
The Titans are 10-7 against the spread this season and 6-3 at home. And the Bengals, who have played only seven road playoff games, have never won in the postseason outside of Cincinnati.
Tennessee also has one of the hottest defenses in the league, allowing just 12.8 points with seven interceptions in four wins over the last five games.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been on fire, too. In his past three games, he threw seven touchdown passes and no picks.
The Bengals have one of the best young cores in the NFL with Joe Borrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Mixon. And 54% of the public is picking the young core to cover on DraftKings Sportsbook. The Bengals are also 10-7 against the spread.
But the Titans’ experience should give them another cushion. Tennessee has made the playoffs four out of the last five seasons, while the Bengals are venturing into uncharted territory.
With Derrick Henry back, I’m picking the Titans to cover on Saturday against the Bengals.