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NFL Wild Card Round Trends & Facts

The NFL Wild Card weekend is quickly approaching kick-off and with it comes some of the most exciting betting you can find. Eight teams will take to the field in the first true do-or-die games of this NFL postseason.

The game changes between the regular season and the playoffs, so you can’t just base your bets on how these teams ended Week 17. These are the hottest trends for the first weekend of playoff action, spanning the past 20 seasons.

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Expert Picks: NFL Wild Card Round

The 2016 NFL playoffs get underway this weekend, and it is all about the road favorites. All four games feature the road team favored, with Green Bay the smallest at one-point, and Seattle the biggest at four points. I think we see a split of the road favorites. Over the last 30 years, playoff home underdogs are 17-14 ATS, but just 6-25 SU, according to the OddsShark database.

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NFL Wild Card Weekend Player Props

Ben Roethlisberger

There are always players that step up in the big games and with the NFL postseason here it's time for some historic performances. These memorable games will inspire audiences for generations, but it could also pad your bank account now.

Here's a complete list of props for which players will lead the NFL in passing, rushing and receiving on Wild Card weekend.

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Steelers Look To Continue Success In CIN

Steelers Bengals Antonio Brown

AFC North rivals clash once again when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. Though anything can happen in an interdivisional contest, the Steelers have been fantastic in their trips to Cincinnati, as Pittsburgh is 13-2 SU in their last 15 games and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games at Paul Brown Stadium.  

The Steelers offense has been heaving the ball this season with the passing game accounting for 73.7 percent of the team’s total offense. As dependent as the offense has been on Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, the team is more of a move the chains team than a big play threat. The Steelers rank in the bottom half in the league in plays of 20+ and 40+ yards.

The defense of the Steelers has been employing a bend-not-break strategy this season as they are 21st in yards allowed, but ninth in points allowed. Notably the Steelers secondary has been leaking like a sieve this season, as they are the third-worst team in the NFL (and the worst among playoff teams) at stopping the pass.

The offense of the Bengals rests on the injured wrist of A.J. McCarron for another week, as Andy Dalton is not expected to make a return for the team before a potential Divisional round playoff match. The Steelers were the team that injured Dalton in Week 14, thrusting McCarron into the starting spot. Since taking over under center, McCarron has led the Bengals to a 2-2 record (including that Steelers game), while throwing six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Cincy’s defense has allowed the second-fewest points per game this season and have held their opponents to under the 20 point plateau in seven of their last eight contests. The Bengals secondary has feasted on Ben Roethlisberger this season as they have intercepted the quarterback four times while notching five sacks in two games.

These rivals split their season series with an average scoring margin of +9.5 points for the winner. The Steelers opened as 2.5 point favorites despite the Bengals going 6-2 SU at home this season. The total for the game opened at 47 with the two matchups between the teams this season seeing combined scores of 26 and 53 points respectively.

Game ID: 
724021
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SEA Looking for Another Beatdown of MIN

Seahawks Vikings

Sunday’s slate of Wild Card action in the NFL pits a team loaded with playoff experience against the new kids on the block when the Seattle Seahawks invade TCF Bank Stadium to take on the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks (10-6 SU) erased an ugly 2-4 start to the season by recapturing their old form and winning eight of their remaining 10 games, while the Vikings (11-5 SU) rattled off three straight wins to end the year. Minnesota’s Week 17 road conquest over the Green Bay Packers made them the NFC North champions for the first time since 2009.

To many NFL pundits, the third-seeded Vikings may have lost by winning that game. Seattle is the #6 seed, but they’re a team no one wanted to play heading into the postseason. If Minny fell to the green and gold, they would have returned to the frozen tundra this weekend to face a Packers team that’s looking out of sorts in many facets of the game, particularly offensively. Adrian Peterson and company are NFC North champs, but they certainly won’t be resting easily with the Seahawks coming to town.

You certainly can’t blame Vikings’ players if they’re looking a little nervous ahead of the game. Seattle pummelled Minnesota in Week 13 by a score of 38-7 in a game Vikings’ backers would like to forget. Seahawks’ signal-caller Russell Wilson continued his late season resurgence by tossing for three touchdowns and running for another, the third time in as many games that the quarterback threw at least three scores with zero interceptions. 

The point spread will rightfully garner significant action in this game, as both squads were very profitable on the season. Minnesota finished as the best spread bet in the league at 13-3 ATS, while Seattle’s second half tear saw them produce five covers in their last six games. Pete Carroll and company opened as 5.5-point road chalk at most sportsbooks. It’s a big sample size, but it’s worth noting Minnesota is 3-10 ATS as a playoff underdog since 1988.

Most shops opened the total for the playoff tilt at 42, which will likely appeal to trend seekers who like to bet on totals. The Norsemen were one of the top UNDER teams in the NFL this season, as the OVER/UNDER went 4-11-1 when the Vikes took the field. Seattle is entering the playoffs on a four-game UNDER streak.

Game ID: 
724022
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NFC Wild Card Odds: Redskins vs Packers

If you told the majority of NFL fans at the start of the season that the Washington Redskins would be hosting a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, you’d be looked at like you had three heads. But thanks to the emergence of Kirk Cousins combined with a total midseason implosion by the Packers, that’s exactly where we’re at as we enter Wild Card Weekend.

Make no mistake about it—these are not the same old Packers. Green Bay (10-6 SU) failed to win the NFC North for the first time since 2010 thanks to a 20-13 home loss to hated division rival Minnesota in Week 17, and as a result are forced to hit the road in the opening round, which is a rare occurrence for a team who’s gotten used to first-round byes in recent years. The green and gold looked like they were on cruise control to start the season by garnering victories in each of their first six games before falling off a cliff after the bye in Week 7.

In the wake of last year’s epic collapse to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game, head coach Mike McCarthy decided to give up play-calling duties for the first time since he took over the position in 2006. The Packers’ offense hit a wall as the calendar turned to November, and McCarthy once again became the team’s play-caller. Can Aaron Rodgers and company once again recapture their high-flying offense? With so much on the line this late in the year, it’s asking an awful lot for a team that’s hardly resembled its former perennially dominant selves. 

Maybe it has to do with the weak division they play in, but there aren’t many people giving the NFC East champion Redskins (9-7 SU) their deserved credit with the playoffs on the horizon. Washington collected victories over division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas to close out the season and clinched home-field advantage in the first round. The ‘Skins were a scary team at FedExField in 2015, going 6-2 in front of their hometown fans. 

Cousins appeared unphased by the seemingly endless drama surrounding embattled quarterback Robert Griffin III and parlayed his newfound starting opportunity into a 29 touchdown, 4,166 passing yards season. Cousins also did a good job of protecting the ball, tossing just 11 picks in his 16 appearances. The 27-year-old threw 16 touchdowns for 2,170 yards with just two interceptions at home in the campaign, which could make for a long day for the Packers’ defense. 

Most sportsbooks opened the line for this game as a pick’em, but that line immediately moved to Redskins -1 shortly after. If Jay Gruden and company remain as the favorites, it could continue a very interesting trend if they’re successful this weekend. The Redskins have not lost as a playoff favorite since December 30th, 1984 against the Bears, going a sizzling 6-0 SU and ATS in that span.  Another interesting tidbit—Green Bay has not been an underdog to the Redskins since 1988.

In what’s likely a direct correlation to their bumbling offense, the Packers were a boon for bettors banking on low-scoring affairs in 2015. Green Bay ended the season with an OVER/UNDER record of 5-11. Meanwhile, the Redskins ended the season on an OVER tear, evidenced by the OVER going a perfect 4-0 in their last four games. Considering the majority of shops opened the matchup with a total of 46.5, if the Packers can jump start their offense and Cousins’ ‘Skins can keep up their high-scoring ways, the OVER will likely generate significant interest in this one. 

Game ID: 
724023
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Chiefs Have Struggled In The Postseason

Kansas City Chiefs Houston Texans

The Kansas City Chiefs shocked the football world by closing out their season with 10 consecutive wins, but they are now in the postseason, which is something that has historically been terrible for the team.  The Chiefs have lost and failed to cover in each of their past eight playoff games with their last postseason victory coming in the 1993 against the Houston Oilers. Kansas City will look to win their first postseason game since Aladdin was in theatres when they visit the Houston Texans on Saturday.

After allowing an average of 26.5 points per game through their first six contests of the season, the Chiefs defense locked down opponents as they have allowed a mere 12.8 ppg during their 10-game winning streak. Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters has been one of the best defensive players in the NFL this season as the Washington-alum tied for the league lead in interceptions while bolstering the ninth-best passing defense in the NFL.

The years of questionable receiver play in Kansas City may finally be over as Jeremy Maclin has been a revelation with the diminutive pass-catcher racking up 1,000 yards. Maclin is the first Chiefs wideout since Dwayne Bowe in 2011 to eclipse 1,000 yards. Alex Smith has been his usual dependable self as he completed 65.3 percent of his passes while throwing 20 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

The year started just as bad for the Texans as it did for the Chiefs, with Houston opening the year 2-5 through their first seven games and lost Arian Foster for the season. Brian Hoyer has stepped in and steadied the offense after the quarterback gong-show with Ryan Mallett at the start of the year, as the veteran has thrown for 19 touchdowns while only turning the ball over seven times this year. 

Defensively, the Texans have been in the top tier of the NFL as they rank in the top 10 in points per game and yards per game. Houston finished the season fifth in sacks with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus combining for 29.5 quarterback takedowns this season. 

The line opened with the Texans as a three-point home underdog and the total set at 40.5. These two teams met in Week 1 of the season in a game that saw the Chiefs win 27-20. 

Game ID: 
724020
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NFL: 2016 Head Coach Prop Odds

Seven NFL teams are on the hunt for a new head coach after Black Monday. Many of these teams have been attached to the same potential head coaches with interviews already well underway to see who will lead the 49ers, Browns, Dolphins, Eagles, Giants and Titans into the future.

Bovada has released odds for who will be carrying the clipboard for each of these teams come the start of the 2016 season.

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Nover: QBs the Key For Road Favorites

By Wednesday afternoon it was official. The marketplace had received enough significant money to turn the Packers into a favorite against Washington. Now, for the first time, all four road teams are favored in the NFL Wild Card Playoffs.

How can this be?

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Home Dogs are a Red-Hot Wild Card Bet

Houston Texans JJ Watt

Home underdogs have always been an attractive play for NFL bettors, but just how profitable have they been when playoff time rolls around? According to recent history, they’ve been cashing at a rapid pace.

Out of the last 22 games that have closed with home dogs in the Wild Card round, 15 have covered the spread (15-6-1 ATS). They’re slightly more pedestrian straight up (13-9 SU), but it’s worth noting just how much playing in front of their hometown fans has helped bettors.

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