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[FTB] Jan 12, 2018

NFL Top Matchups: A glance at the AFC Divisional Round

By Gracenote

Each week, we break down some of the most intriguing matchups in the NFL, giving you an inside edge when gauging the schedule and placing your weekend wagers.

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-13.5; 47.5)

Between a spread of nearly two touchdowns and news of internal strife, the New England Patriots might have to work a little harder to gain bettors' confidence ahead of this Saturday's divisional round encounter with the Tennessee Titans. And that isn't all the Patriots need to be concerned about, as they look to contain a Titans running game that could make this one a little too close for comfort despite the lofty spread.

Last week's 22-21 comeback victory over Kansas City wouldn't have been possible without Derrick Henry, who carved through the Chiefs' defence for 156 rushing yards and a touchdown.

It's easy to ignore how poor the Patriots' run defence was, considering how well Tom Brady and the offence performed. But bettors can't ignore the fact that New England surrendered 4.7 yards-per-carry average in the regular season.

Granted, teams only ran the ball 38.2 percent of the time against the Pats, but if the Titans keep things close enough for Henry to remain a factor, the Titan's unlikely Super Bowl run might continue.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5; 40.5)

Jacksonville is an underdog for this weekend's encounter at Heinz Field - but if red-zone play is any indication, the Jaguars should be able to keep pace with the Steelers.

Most people suspected the Jaguars would boast an impressive defence. But getting this far requires a more than passable offence - and Jacksonville overcame some early-season inconsistency to boast the league's second-best red-zone touchdown rate at 64.7 percent. Couple that with the Jaguars limiting opponents to a 37.9-percent success rate inside their 20-yard line and no team dominates the red zone like Jacksonville.

The Steelers have home-field advantage and a pair of dangerous offensive weapons in Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Steelers converted just 50.8 percent of their visits to the opponents' 20-yard line into six points - the 22nd-best rate in the league - and were even worse at defending the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 61.5 percent of opponent opportunities.
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