NFL Playoff Preview- The Championship Games
By Jack Robinson
Finally we are back at this point of the season where we will get to see the best of the best. We have familiar faces in new places, a franchise that will look to right the wrongs of the past, the unofficial “Kings of the North”, and then we have the defending Champs who will be looking to retain their spot at the top of the NFL mountain.
This year…like every year is a very exciting time in the world of sports betting and a very unique time as well. What I mean by that is there are only a few times a year where games will accumulate upwards of 50k betting tickets on them. Yes you heard me right, that is 50,000 and with the legalization of sports betting across the USA I would only expect this number to keep going up.
This is like Christmas time for the sports books and Vegas as a huge influx of money will be coming their way as an over saturated market uneducated bettors will be jumping in to try their luck and betting on their favorite teams. That is all in good fun but the point of these articles is to help try to find the cracks in the algorithm and help try to maybe open the casual bettor mind up to something that they might not have seen before. With that being said…let’s jump right in.
1. Kansas City Chiefs vs. 2. Buffalo Bills
In a game where we have the defending champs up against the…what do we call these guys? The Chicago Cubs of the NFL? The City of Buffalo has had a dark cloud hanging over their football team since the 90’s where they went to four consecutive Super Bowls and lost all four and have been a proverbial AFC East door mat through most of this century. First year coach Sean McDermott and stand out quarterback Josh Allen will try to slay the demons of the past this weekend in Arrowhead.
The spread on this game opened at 2.5 in favor of the home team but through out the week has moved to 3 to 3.5 points with sharp money landing on the side of Kansas City. Vegas and the odds makers will look for an effort to 50/50 this spread. What I mean by that is to half 50% of the betting tickets and 50% of the money on both sides.
The Bills lost to The Chiefs in week six in their only regular season match up where Kansas City covered a 5.5 point spread as the road team in a game that sailed under the projected 55 points due to inclement weather and injuries on both sides of the ball. The game for this weekend has a similar set total that opened at 50 points but has since walked itself up to 54 to 55 points as of the time of this article. These teams feature two of the best offenses in the league and average over 30 points per game.
The difference here will fall on the defensive side of the ball where Buffalo ranks 12th in DVOA as opposed to Kansas City who ranks 22nd and is susceptible to mobile quarterbacks and a secondary that gives up big plays to opposing receivers. Josh Allen’s rushing prop is set at 31.5 rushing yards which you would think would be high for a quarterback but keep in mind that he had 8 carries for 42 yards the last time these teams played and will no doubt be a part of their game plan this weekend.
Buffalo is coming off a game where they gave up only 3 points to Lamar Jackson and the offensively geared Ravens. They will look to try and replicate those results versus a team that typically thrives on the offensive side of the ball, but Patrick Mahomes and company are only averaging 20 points per game in their last 3 and put up 22 versus Cleveland last week.
In big games like this I always try to look for prop type bets or maybe even a teaser because there is so much money flowing onto both sides and the odds makers have set these lines to entice action on it both ways. If you are going to look to take the home team on this one I would suggest dumping the points and taking KC on the money line. If you are going the other way I would suggest to buy off a hook and onto a key number, that goes the same for the totals. This will be a great game and one that I think will still be up for grabs late into the 4th quarter. Best of Luck on whatever you decide to do.
1. Green Bay Packers vs. 5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Same faces and new places here for a resurgent Tampa Bay team who with the addition of Brady sky rocketed them to the top of the NFL Futures probability before the season started. The Bucs feature a very potent defense who rank 5th in DVOA on the year, but in the post season are averaging 21.5 points per game. Keep in mind both of these games were on the road versus mediocre offense in Washington and held a statistically good Saints offense to only 20 points. Tampa Bay is a very good road team this year 6-2 straight up but only 4-4 versus the spread.
This week Brady and the underdog Bucs head into Lambeau Field to face what looks to be the best team in the playoffs. We covered all of the Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers stats at home and in the playoffs in previous articles, so no reason to bring all of that up again. What I will bring up is that Rodgers and Co. are averaging almost 33 points per game in their last 4 and put up 32 points last week versus the number 4 defense in the league in the LA Rams.
This year the Green Bay Packers have been a machine when covering first half team total overs. They covered last week versus Los Angeles and I expect them to do the same this week against Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay in their own right is a good covering first half team total team as well and with a game spread hovering around 3.5 points and a first half line sitting at 3 points. I would also lean on a first half overs play here as well.
The old saying goes that you never fade Brady in the playoffs…especially as an underdog. There are over 10k bets right now on this game as of Saturday night and I would expect that number to triple by kickoff. Green Bay is the firm favorite on this game as they are catching 70% of the spread money and 84% of the money line bets. If there is an upset brewing then this game has all the ingredients to make that happen.
There will be a lot of good spots for player prop action in this game as well. One of which is a DeVante Adams receptions prop at 7.5 which i’m sure could get up to 8 to 8.5 by game time.
Tampa Bay has the number one rushing defense in the NFL averaging only 82 yards per game. This is another reason why I like Rodgers to throw the ball more and target his favorite receivers. This will be a great match up vs 2 hall of fame quarterbacks and should make for a great game for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.