As usual, I am going to take a dive into that week’s slate of games and try to dig up some trends. Hopefully, they give us an edge when making game selections each week.
Of course, trends are trends…until they’re not. Sometimes betting on the other end of a trend ending can be advantageous. The goal here isn’t to plant a flag based on a trend, rather to simply shine a spotlight on these trends that exist and talk through some of them as food for thought. We’ll start with the AFC matchups and then move to the NFC.
Just like last week, we’ll take a top-down look at performances in the Divisional Round. We know having a first-round playoff has had an advantage for outright wins, but let’s take a quick look at results in the Divisional Round per seed.
Since the NFL went to 32 teams and this current playoff structure in 2002, teams with the first-round bye have a clean 47-21 record straight up, but those teams haven’t held the betting advantage over that span, going 30-38 (44.1%) against the spread. Dogs have been good bets in general, going 39-29 (57.4%) in the Divisional Round, but large dogs of seven or more points have been particularly strong, going 21-13 (61.8%) against the line.
No. 1 Seeds have been the best bet to win outright in the Divisional Round (72.7%), but have also been the worst bet against the spread (38.2%) over the totality of time listed above. They have been better of late, going 9-1 straight up the past five seasons while posting a 6-4 record against the line in those games.
Both No. 1 Seeds have matchups with No. 6 seeds this Saturday. No. 1 seeds are 12-5 against No. 6 seeds, but 7-10 ATS the spread in those spots. No. 6 seeds have been good bets when getting heavy points, going 7-4 ATS when getting six or more points.
A No. 2 seed has lost in the Divisional Round in four of the past six seasons, but the best bet for an upset this round has been by No. 3 seeds, and both of those this season have been eliminated. Outside of those teams, the No. 2 seed has posted a 7-2 record (6-3 ATS) against No. 4 seeds, but have been worse against No. 5 seeds, going 5-3 (4-4 ATS).
After highlighting how frequently Wild Card Round games have historically fallen under the game total, all four games last weekend were unders. In the Divisional Round, scoring tends to bounce back, with the games in this round going over 52.9% of the time. That is also reflected in the early lines this week. Last week, we were expecting low-scoring games, with three games having a total of 45 points or fewer. This week, three of the four games are set at 46 points or higher.
Unders are only favored in games involving No. 1 and No. 6 seeds. Another trend in those projected to be one-sided matchups is that unders have hit at a 9-2 rate in games with the top seed giving away six or more points. In those games, the favorite has been required to do too much lifting to get the game to the game total, with the underdog averaging just 15.9 total points per game in those contests and have scored 17 or fewer points in eight of those 11 games.
Titans at Ravens
With another win and cover last week, the Titans are 7-3-1 against the spread since transitioning to Ryan Tannehill as their quarterback.
Baltimore enters the postseason riding a 12-game winning streak, going 9-3 against the spread during that win streak and are 9-1 in covering the line over their past 10 games.
One interesting development with the Ravens is they’ve had trouble covering as a home favorite. In 11 games as a home favorite with Lamar Jackson under center, they are just 3-8 against the spread, including 2-4 this season.
No stranger to the postseason, the Ravens have a 10-6 record under John Harbaugh in the playoffs, going 11-5 against the number. Interestingly enough, they’ve played just three postseason games at home over that span, going 2-1 (1-2 ATS). As postseason favorites under Harbaugh, they are 3-2 against the number and 1-1 as a favorite giving seven or more points.
Texans at Chiefs
This is the only regular season rematch of the Divisional Round. Houston went into Kansas City as underdogs in Week 6 and won outright 31-24. Houston was a sketchy bet overall this season, but they were a strong one when entering as an underdog, going 6-3 against the spread and were tied for the league-lead with five outright wins as an underdog this season.
The Chiefs closed the regular season on a six-game winning streak, going 5-0-1 against the spread to close the season. The Chiefs were a league-best 8-4-1 against the spread as a favorite, but as mentioned, one of those losses were to the Texans in that Week 6 matchup.
We also have the long-running trend of an Andy Reid-led team coming off a bye. For his career, Reid-coached teams have a 22-4 record straight up coming off a bye week with a 17-9 record against the spread in those games. In the postseason, that record is 4-1 straight up and 3-2 against the spread.
The first time these teams played in Week 6, they combined for 55 points, which hasn’t always been the case with the Chiefs at home. Under Reid, Kansas City has a 36-22-1 record (62.1%) towards the under at home. That mark is 7-8-1 at home with Patrick Mahomes as his starting quarterback.