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NFL Divisional Playoff Round Preview

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With Wild Card Weekend in the books fully it’s time to look ahead to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. The full Wild Card Weekend review can be found here. In a week that saw underdogs go 4-0 ATS and 2-2 straight up, We will preview the upcoming slate from a handicapping perspective, updated future odds, and some best bets from a prop market perspective and see if there’s any value left for a conference or Super Bowl winner.

AFC: 

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie.ag

Initial Odds:

New England Patriots (-150), Pittsburgh Steelers (+200), Kansas City Chiefs (+1000), Jacksonville Jaguars (+1000), Buffalo Bills (+7500), Tennessee Titans (+4000)

Updated Odds (1/10/18)

New England Patriots (-200), Pittsburgh Steelers (+200), Jacksonville Jaguars (+1000), Tennessee Titans (+3500)

New England is still dominating the market share with a price jump of -150 out to -200 which is due to Tennessee upsetting Kansas City. In all honesty, the fact that it only moved .50c isn’t enough of an adjustment from Kansas City to Tennessee, so if you’re inclined to still lay the price on New England I can’t blame you. Pittsburgh and Jacksonville prices remain the same, and Tennessee has decreased from 40/1 to 35/1, which does provide a very nice backup to any New England wagers.

New England Patriots (-13.5) Vs. Tennessee Titans

The theme of this article is looking to the past to predict the future and to me, there is no better indication than last years matchup of New England Vs. Houston which was a very similar situation, taking place almost exactly one year to the day. In the matchup last year, New England was a 16.5 point favorite against Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans, winning 34-16. Look, I don’t often advocate taking double-digit favorites especially in the playoffs, so I look for different ways to attack these types of games.

Last year the angle I took was New England First Quarter -3. I also hedged my bet position with Houston team total Over 0.5. Both positions came home as New England won the first quarter 14-3 and I was able to hit a nice middle. I’m going to be attacking this game via the same mind set and will be playing New England first quarter ATS which will likely be in the neighbourhood of -3. I don’t see a situation where Tennessee pulls the upset in Gillette, but a 35/1 bet can let you rest easy for a penny stock investment. That being said, there’s a very real scenario in which New England’s road to a Superbowl is Tennessee and Jacksonville, -200 may be pennies on the dollar.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

I would argue there’s quite a bit of past season bias built into this line. If you simply look at Team A Vs. Team B this season, Jacksonville not only won but dominated Pittsburgh in the tune of a 30-9 win in which Ben Roethlisberger threw 5 interceptions. The first thought that came to mind was to take Antonio Brown’s under yardage prop being that Jalen Ramsey will likely shadow him and Jacksonville has probably the best pass defense in the last 10 years.

But in going back to that first game, yards weren’t the problem for Roethlisberger or Brown as Ben threw for 312 and Brown had 10 catches for 157 yards. I don’t like to tempt fate with that Jacksonville defense by fading it twice, but Le’veon Bell also had 10 catches for 46 yards. So as you can see, volume wasn’t the issue, it was just converting them into touchdowns. Blake Bortles (who had 87 yards passing in the wild card round) finished with 95 passing yards while Leonard Fournette exploded for 181 yards on 28 carries.

I can’t trust Brown’s health, so I’m going to be sticking to what I do know. Blake Bortles hasn’t been competitive in his passing yard props, Lev Bell can catch the ball out of the backfield. So I’ll look to attack this game in the prop market with Fournette over yards, Bell over catches, and Bortles under passing yards, as long as they aren’t wildly adjusted.

NFC:

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie.ag

Initial Odds:

Minnesota Vikings (+150), LA Rams (+400), New Orleans Saints (+400), Philadelphia Eagles (+500), Atlanta Falcons (+800), Carolina Panthers (+1500)

Updated Odds:

Minnesota Vikings (+120), New Orleans Saints (+300), Atlanta Falcons (+300), Philadelphia Eagles (+500)

The NFC has always been vastly different than the AFC due to the market share percentage that New England dominates. To show just how much things have shifted, Case Keenum is the odds-on favorite to go to the SuperBowl while the #1 seed Philadelphia Eagles are the biggest underdog due to Carson Wentz’ injury. That’s somewhat ironic because from a seeding perspective, the biggest “odds” matchup would be the top two seeds. As I stated in the Wild Card preview, Atlanta’s price was going to more than shorten once they got past a first-time playoff QB who are 1-11 in first playoff games.

Atlanta Falcons (-3) Vs. Philadelphia Eagles

In one of the most polarizing matchups of the weekend, whichever side of this matchup you are on I’m probably sure you’re confident in it. This to me comes down to a couple of things. Atlanta is in the Top 3 Net YPP and Philadelphia is starting Nick Foles against the defending NFC Champions. Look, I get it. Foles has nothing to do with what Matt Ryan and that offense does against a top 5 rush defense and the fact that they are outside in Philadelphia in January.

I favor Atlanta simply as a Nick Foles fade, however, the total is what I’m much more interested in. I realise the Oakland game is a very small sample size for the Nick Foles led Eagles, but it’s not a small sample size of what Nick Foles is in his career. To be blunt, he’s not good and I can’t put my money behind him. This Eagles defense will need to step up bigtime for them to have any chance which would seem to lend itself towards an under with both teams struggling to score. I’m going to do you one better though and take one team out of it and go with Philadelphia Eagles Team Total Under.

New Orleans Saints Vs. Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)

I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that either Atlanta or New Orleans will win this week to make it to the NFC Championship game. With that being said, Minnesota is attempting to do something no one has ever done-host a Superbowl, and they’re the odds-on favorite to do so. Case Keenum has been disrespected all season long, yet Minnesota was tied with New England for the best against the spread record in the NFL at 11-5, and are just below New England at 20-12 ATS the last two seasons. 

Drew Brees on the road is usually a shaky bet, but at least he remains inside for this one and gets to avoid the elements. This one is a complete stay away from a betting perspective from me because when you break it down on the surface, it’s Case Keenum and Latavius Murray Vs. Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram. Adam Thielen is an equalizer you’d think, yet The Saints counter with Michael Thomas. I’m going to be a fan and ride the pine on this one. One stat to keep in mind however is that Case Keenum is next up making his first career playoff start, which has not yielded great results, 2-13 to be exact. The trends and numbers point to The Saints, but I will just allow a Saints future to play out here.

 

A jack of all trades, Christian got his start in the gambling industry using a model to predict players performance in daily fantasy sports. Eventually, he used that same model to cross over into NFL handicapping, specifically the prop market and honed his craft enough to cross over from player projections into every aspect of sports Handicapping. He then made the full time move to Las Vegas to become a professional sports handicapper, utilizing his knowledge of all sports including NFL, NCAA, NBA, UFC, and MLB. He's currently the resident #DFS expert on The Sports Gambling Podcast as well as managing editor.

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