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Playoff best bets: Pro sports bettors, oddsmakers give NFL picks

The Lions have won only two playoff games since 1957, ending droughts of 35 years in 1992 and 32 years in Sunday’s wild-card win over the Rams.

Professional bettors and bookmakers don’t expect Detroit to wait long for its next postseason victory.

Sharp bettors backed the Lions -6 over the Buccaneers in Sunday’s divisional round game at Detroit. Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay also likes the Lions, who have ticked up to consensus 6½-point favorites over Tampa Bay.

Kornegay went 59-25-6 against the spread this season to win the Review-Journal NFL Challenge. He also went 2-0 in this column last week on the Chiefs and Rams, who covered as 3-point underdogs in their 24-23 loss at Detroit.

“It’s a good spot for the Lions, mainly because I don’t know if the Buccaneers are that good,” Kornegay said. “I feel like they got a pass against Philadelphia. It definitely looked like Philadelphia didn’t want to be there.

“They played probably the least motivated team in the first round to going to maybe the most motivated team in the playoffs.”

Kornegay expects Detroit’s defense to shut down Tampa Bay’s offense, which gained 426 yards in a 32-9 victory over the Eagles on Monday.

“The Buccaneers are pretty one-dimensional, and that is they have to pass the ball,” he said. “They’re certainly not going to be able to run it on the Lions. They’re going to have to rely on Baker Mayfield to pass the ball in a hostile environment, and I think he’s going to struggle to do it.”

I also asked pro sports bettors Erin Rynning and Jeff Whitelaw for their best bets, as well as SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons.

49ers (-9½)

The 49ers are 9½-point home favorites over the Packers on Saturday, and Rynning likes San Francisco to cover.

“The Packers have been in playoff mode over the second half of the season, while controlling the opposition over their previous three games, 98-51,” said Rynning (@ersports1). “However, generally in the NFL, what goes up will eventually come down, and the Packers find themselves in an ultra-tough spot traveling to San Francisco on a short week.

“Their defense still brings red flags, while being hammered on the ground or through the air throughout the campaign, while the 49ers bring incredible balance and playmaking with their offense.”

While the “rust or rest” debate is glaring for the 49ers, who had a week off after sitting many starters in Week 18, Rynning noted that the Niners have absolutely delivered with extra prep time this season.

“In Week 1, they blew out the Steelers 30-7 in a game that wasn’t that close. Off their bye week, they went to Jacksonville and won 34-3. And, finally, off a Thursday contest and extra prep, they dominated at Philadelphia, 42-19,” he said. “They should win this one going away.”

Chiefs (+3)

The Bills are consensus 2½-point favorites (-120) over the Chiefs in Sunday’s game at Buffalo. The line has climbed to 3 at several books during the week, including Caesars on Thursday.

South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said he’s taken sharp money on Buffalo -2½ and on Kansas City +3. South Point is the only book in Las Vegas that always offers a -110 price on both sides.

“We’re doing a ton of business on that game,” Andrews said. “As long as it doesn’t come 3, we’ll be OK.”

Salmons recommends a play on the Chiefs +3 over a Bills team that had several defensive starters injured in Monday’s win over the Steelers.

“Andy Reid in the playoffs, I trust him with time to prepare,” Salmons said of the Kansas City coach. “These teams are familiar with each other, so there should be no surprises. To me, the Chiefs’ defense is as good as anyone in the NFL right now. I trust Kansas City to win this game if I can get 3.”

Ravens-49ers teaser

Whitelaw said the only wager he made was a Ravens-49ers teaser in which he made both top seeds off a bye 2½-point favorites (Baltimore is -9½ over Houston).

“The bye is strong. They get the rest, they get healthy, and they’re the better teams,” he said. “Also, even though (Texans quarterback C.J.) Stroud has been playing well, he is a rookie. Notoriously, it’s not a good spot. Baltimore has a much more potent offense than Cleveland.

“It’s the same thing with Green Bay. They played great against Dallas. But they’re stepping up a little bit now.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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