NFL betting trends entering the Divisional Round


With the NFL’s Wild Card weekend now in the books, our attention moves forward to the Divisional Round taking place this weekend. We are now down to eight teams remaining with a chance to win the Super Bowl in 2022. We have to be careful trying to carry over what happened during the regular season to the playoffs. You have a different caliber of team remaining, so the outliers that skewed some of these numbers may not be in play anymore.

You do not have your horrendously bad teams or your one-sided matchups. At this stage of the season, everyone is very good to great. Do we think the things that we saw during the regular season will carry over to the playoffs? I’m not 100% sure yet, but we can take a look at the numbers and see how they played out so far. 


Against-the-Spread Results

During the regular season, betting on favorites had a slight edge and was a slightly profitable blind bet. Favorites were the right choice in 10 of 18 weeks, with underdogs being the better option in seven and one week with a 7-7 tie. At the end of the year, we made a slight profit betting blindly on favorites, but not enough to really justify the outlay on a weekly basis.

The first week of the NFL playoffs went about the same. Favorites were the way to go as they won and covered in five of the six games this weekend. Many of these favorites not only covered but did so by a wide margin. The Rams, Chiefs, Bucs and Bills all won by multiple touchdowns. The only two close games were Bengals/Raiders and 49ers/Cowboys. Favorites went 5-1 ATS last weekend, which is a strong showing for what has been the stronger side to bet on all year. 

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Underdog Report

Dogs did not win a ton of games this season, but they had a strong showing in profitability due to the fact that underdog winners pay more than even money and sometimes by large multiples. This weekend, the only favorite to lose was the Dallas Cowboys and the moneyline was not high due to the fact the spread was under a field goal in that game at -2.5. The 49ers were the lone dog to win in the first round of the playoffs, and they paid less than 2-1. That means betting one unit blindly on every dog would have been about a 3.5-unit loss for the week. I’m not sure we can extrapolate anything moving forward with this trend, but I did want to mention it. 


NFL Totals

This season unders were a slightly profitable bet as they came in about 55% of the time with favorites coming in about 44% of the time. At standard -110 juice, you need about 52.5% of the games to end one way in order to make a profit. That means it was profitable to bet on unders this season and a money loser to bet on overs. Things worked out the same way in Wild Card weekend. We had six games and only the Buffalo and Kansas City games ended to the over. Interestingly, those two teams play each other this weekend too, so expect some fireworks. That means the other four games ended under. That is 66.7% of the games that ended under the total in a smaller sample than usual. I’m not sure how much we want to take away from one small sample, but when you look at the trend for the entire season it does track that unders remain the more likely outcome than overs. 

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