The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with the Wild Card Round. There are four unique matchups on the board, presenting many different betting angles. If you’re wagering on the Wild Card game and the rest of the football postseason, here are some tips and tactics when sizing up the NFL playoff betting odds:
Perhaps the most important factor when looking at playoff bets is how a team finished the regular season. We’ve seen teams catch fire late in the season and ride that momentum all the way to a Super Bowl title. The Green Bay Packers did it in 2010-11 and the New York Giants followed suit in 2011-12 – both teams picking up wins at the end of the year to propel them through the playoffs.
As we enter these NFL playoffs, a couple teams standout with strong finishes to the schedule – none more than the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City finished on a four-game winning streak, winning those game by an average margin of nearly 12 points. The Chiefs are set up well in the opening round, hosting Tennessee in a Saturday Wild Card matchup.
Big-game experience is worth its weight in gold in the postseason. Don’t believe that? Just look at the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl. The big stage of the postseason can find teams over-anxious and playing a little tight, especially in the opening quarter. And it’s not just players feeling the pressure either. Head coaches often make questionable calls in the playoffs, with many getting too conservative and not following their usual plan of attack.
We get a perfect example of this in the opening round with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams have a young and inexperienced squad, led by first-year head coach Sean McVay while the Falcons are the defending NFC champions and were served a lesson in closing out postseason games in that infamous “28-3” Super Bowl loss last February. Savvy football bettors will want to watch how the Rams respond to the playoff pressure early on.
The postseason comes on the heels of a very taxing regular season slate, which often leaves teams missing key components for the most important games of the year. Depth is a big factor in the postseason and the teams that can plug sudden holes and work around injuries will prevail. Depending on the importance of the injured player, pointspreads will swing a full touchdown if a key contributor is ruled out.
The Philadelphia Eagles are probably the most notable injury-plagued team, missing starting quarterback Carson Wentz for the postseason after he suffering a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago. However, in the Wild Card round, we see the Buffalo Bills awaiting the status of star running back LeSean McCoy for their game in Jacksonville. McCoy injured his ankle in the finale with Miami and is vital to the Bills’ success against a solid Jaguars defense.
NFL postseason spreads and totals are some of the tightest odds football bettors will face all season. With only four games on the board at most, and a season of data to pull from, oddsmakers can really fine tune these odds and leave little value on the table. That means getting half point hooks around the key numbers are extra important when it comes to betting the best line.
Getting the favorite at -2.5, -5.5, and -6.5 and bagging the underdog at +3.5, +6.5, and +7.5 is almost as important as picking the right team. So often, these postseason games are decided by a slim margin and those half-point hooks are the difference between winning and losing your NFL playoff wagers. That means grabbing early odds or waiting out line moves until the final minutes before kickoff. Also, don’t underestimate the value of teasers. Look for the best football teaser odds and win some cash.