NFL Trends & Angles – Divisional Playoff Round – January 10, 2015

The favorites and underdogs split 2-2 ATS in the Wild Card Round, as on both Saturday and Sunday the favorite covered the first game and the underdog covered the late game. The totals also split 2-2, with the ‘over’ going 2-0 on Saturday but the ‘under’ coming back to go 2-0 on Sunday.

So now it is time to move on to the divisional round as we look to improve on our disappointing playoff start.

And the best part about the playoffs for more informed bettors is that there is more “square” money bet this time of year than during the regular season, forcing books to shade some lines more than they do during the regular year. Thus, as counterintuitive as it may seem, playoff lines are actually often softer than regular season lines as books can better withstand the “sharps” winning more due to the sheer amount of square dollars bet!

That can lead to some vulnerable lines for astute observers, and as usual, underdogs are a nice place to start with many of the novice players eager get down on the popular favorites. That same logic suggests to look at playing the ‘under’ first when playing totals, with fans of high scoring games, especially the aforementioned “squares” that sometimes have not bet all season, usually betting the ‘over’.

Now, because there are only 11 post-season NFL games every year, it is hard to get as large a sample size when going back to the 2005 season like we do during the regular season. Therefore, our NFL Playoff Trends & Angles have varying lengths out of necessity, and even with that, not all of them will have the larger sample sizes you have become accustomed to seeing with our regular season trends.

But regardless, here are our NFL Trends & Angles for the Divisional Playoff Round, with the length of each Trend & Angle specified. We have six angles this week, beginning with two that are specific to this divisional round.

Play against all playoff teams in the divisional round coming off of a first round bye (26-17-1, 60.5% ATS since 2003): First round byes are supposed to be a good thing, which is why they are rewarded to the top two seeds in each conference. However, based on the results of the last 12 years, it looks like having a bye week kills some momentum, or that actually playing on wild card week actually keeps a team sharp or gives it momentum, or perhaps it is a combination off all these things. Qualifiers: Baltimore +7 vs. New England (Saturday), Carolina +10½ vs. Seattle (Saturday), Dallas +6 vs. Green Bay (Sunday) and Indianapolis +7 vs. Denver (Sunday).

In the divisional round only, play on any playoff team that won on the road in the wild card round (12-3-1, 80.0% ATS since 2005): It is supposed to be hard to win on the road during the playoffs, as road teams are the lower seed after all, but apparently once a team does win on the road it becomes easier to repeat the performance. That could be the reason why so many wild cards have made Super Bowl runs in recent years. Qualifier: Baltimore +7 (Saturday).

In playoff rematches of non-divisional regular season meetings, play on the team that lost the regular season meeting straight up (44-26-1, 62.9% ATS since 2001): A lot of non-divisional regular season matchups take place once every four years or so, which means that the teams are usually unfamiliar with each other when they take the field. However, if fate allows those teams to meet again in the playoffs, the team that lost now has some actual game tape to dissect and can make adjustments to either get revenge in the playoffs or at least make the game more competitive. Qualifiers: Carolina +10½ vs. Seattle (Saturday) and Indianapolis +7 vs. Denver (Sunday).

Play the ‘over’ in the playoffs when the home team has covered its last three games ATS (24-11, 68.6% since 1996): Teams on ATS winning streaks are usually playing well and when they are home in the playoffs, it as has tended to lead to rather high scoring games with these teams favored more often than not and thus needing to score quite a bit of points to cover the spread. And based on the record of this angle, these teams have done so at a good clip. Qualifying ‘over’: Carolina at Seattle (Saturday).

Play the ‘over’ in the playoffs when a team has gone ‘under’ in its last three games ATS (28-12-1, 70.0% since 2002): This is one of those contrarian angles that we are very fond of, as teams that have gone ‘under’ in three straight games are often defensive-minded but teams naturally become more offensive minded once the playoffs begin with even defensive teams scoring more points by taking advantage of good field position set up by the defense. Qualifying ‘over’: Indianapolis at. Denver (Sunday).

Play on any playoff road underdog that was on the road in its previous game (35-23, 60.3% ATS since 2000): This is similar to some angles we use during the regular season dealing with teams playing consecutive road games as oddsmakers oftentimes inflate the lines when these teams are the underdogs in the second game due to over-adjusting for the travel factor. Qualifiers: Baltimore +7 (Saturday).