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NFC Divisional Playoff Games Betting Analysis & Picks

Game breakdowns with my picks for the NFC divisional matchups: 

Atlanta at Philadelphia +3, 41 

The Eagles are the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in the divisional round. Says a lot about where they are right now and it comes down to Nick Foles. He has yet to cover a spread since taking over the starting job three games ago with Philly’s offense sputtering under him. The Eagles are averaging just 4.3 yards per play during that span – down from 5.5 on the season – and that ranks fourth-worst in the NFL during that time. It’s worrisome against a Falcons team that can play some defense.

The UNDER has cashed in six straight Falcons games and in 10 of their last 13. That’s amazing for a squad that was the best OVER bet in NFL history last season at 17-2 O/U. Now they’re the second-best UNDER bet in the NFL at 5-11 O/U. Oddsmakers have adjusted, though, and this is actually the lowest total Atlanta has seen since Dec. 4, 2011, when the number was 38 at Houston in a game that went well UNDER in a 17-10 loss. The offense is scoring about 12 fewer points per game than last year but the defense has seen a massive improvement from allowing 377 yards per game last year (27th) to just 321 per game this year (9th). Atlanta is allowing teams to score TDs in the red zone at just 44.2% this season (5th) and just 25 percent over its last three (3rd in that time period). Compare that to an NFL-worst 71.6% last season.

If you want to look at the positive for the Eagles, an NBC Philly article suggests Foles is good against Cover-3 defenses like the one Atlanta plays. He has a 61.9 completion percentage, averages 8.0 yards per pass attempt and has thrown five touchdowns to only one interception against Cover-3 defenses – but that’s only three games in his career. I expect the “sharp” money will be on the Eagles here and the public to be on Atlanta. Action pushed this number from -2.5 to -3 through the week.

Note:  The last NFL QB to win a playoff game after starting three or fewer games in the regular season was Randall Cunningham with the 1997 Vikings. QBs in that spot are 0-10 since then. Nick Foles started three games.

Pick: Eagles +9 on a 6-point teaser with the Patriots (teased to -7)

Saints at Vikings -4.5, 46.5 

This is the top offense in yards per play this season (Saints 6.3) against the No. 1 scoring defense (Vikings 15.8 ppg against). The Vikings shut down the Saints rushing attack and held them to just 60 yards in the 29-19 win in September, which was key in the win. The Vikings racked up 346 passing yards in that one and the Saints have to be a little concerned they are allowing over 300 yards passing per game over their last three. Being at home should help once again where the Vikings went 6-2 against the spread this season. New Orleans is 1-6 straight up and 2-5 against the spread in its last seven road postseason games. Drew Brees is 1-4 SU and 2-3 ATS in those. Case Keenum owns the No. 3 completion percentage in the NFL this season (67.6) behind only Brees and Alex Smith.   

Notes:

Vikings 9-2 ATS last 11 games 
Saints 2-7 ATS last nine vs Vikings
Seven of the last nine meetings went OVER
Seven of last eight Vikings games went UNDER 
Saints 1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS last seven road playoff games

Pick: Vikings -5 

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