A Look at Divisional Round Betting Favorites: Cash in with These Savvy NFL Picks
During the Wild Card Weekend, the favored teams performed interestingly in online sportsbook NFL lines. Three of the four favored teams—the Chiefs, Steelers and Seahawks–won their games for a 3-1 SU record, with the Redskins (who were coincidentally the only team favored to win at home) failing to win their encounter as a favorite. In the ATS lines, the Chiefs (who won 30-0 on the road against the hapless Houston Texans) were the only favored team that managed to cover the spread. Washington, as you all know, suffered a humiliating 17-point loss to the Packers, giving the points to Green Bay. Pittsburgh and Seattle nearly suffered upsets, but luckily survived the onslaughts, courtesy of drama in the last possessions of their respective games. Still, the Steelers and Seahawks couldn’t manage to cover their spreads, leaving the favorites with a 1-3 ATS record from the weekend.
After that wild weekend, what can bettors expect from the favorites in the teams favored to win in the Divisional Round this weekend? Read on as we take a look at this week’s favorites and what our handicappers expect of them in the NFL odds.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 16
Betting On Kansas City Chiefs at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-4.5)
The New England Patriots opened the Week as 5-point favorites in most online sportsbooks, but there has been a line movement, with the Pats spread currently down to 4.5, indicating the increasing public betting belief that Kansas City can cover the spread against the Patriots, who have a number of injury concerns bugging their squad. This isn’t entirely surprising, given that, although the Patriots have a reputation of playing well in the postseason games and they finished the season with an AFC-best 12-4 SU mark, they could only muster a 7-6-3 ATS on the regular season. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have gone 12-5 SU and 9-8 ATS on the season (including their Wild Card Weekend), though those numbers don’t tell the full story, as the Chiefs enter this game riding on a ridiculous 11-0 SU mark along with a stellar 8-3 ATS mark. That record, mind you, includes a 5-0 SU and 5-0 ATS mark in Kansas City’s last five road games. Then, of course, there is the pedigree brought by Kansas City’s 4-2 ATS record in its last 6 overall games against New England. Added to the fact that the Chiefs have an efficient pass rush unit that can get to Tom Brady and a solid set of big, physical cornerbacks that are guaranteed to frustrate New England’s passers all day; the Chiefs certainly look the part of being able to cover the spread (or even claim an upset win over Brady and Co. That said, don’t forget that this is New England team that hasn’t lost any of its last five home games against Kansas City. In addition, the New England is 23-2 SU in its last 25 games at home.
My Betting Prediction: New England just about manages to make an extra offensive play (probably a field goal) to beat Kansas City for the SU, but Kansas City’s defense ensures that the Chiefs (+4.5) claim the ATS.
Betting On Green Bay Packers at ARIZONA CARDINALS (-7)
Despite beating the Redskins, the Oddsmakers still don’t trust Aaron Rodgers to be Packers (11-6 SU / 10-7 ATS) to be good enough to upset the Cardinals (13-3 SU / 9-7 ATS), placing them as one-touchdown underdogs. In main, this has much to do with the fact the Cardinals blew out the Packers 38-8 two days after Christmas when the two teams at the University of Phoenix Stadium. With both teams meeting in the same field, it serves to reason that the Cardinals (6-2 SU at home this season) will continue their dominance. What many bettors don’t know is that the Cardinals have been a funky team when it comes to covering the spread at home. Outside the SU and ATS claimed against the Packers in Week 16, the Cardinals are 0-5 ATS in their last five games, including the 36-6 embarrassing home loss to Seattle in Week 17, a game in which Arizona was favored to win by 6 points. This loophole in covering the spread allows Green Bay an opportunity to at least claim the ATS this weekend. After all, Green Bay is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 overall games, 4-1 ATS in its last 5 road games and 5-3 ATS in its last 8 overall games against Arizona, so the potential of covering the spread as 7-point underdogs looks very possible. Of course, the Cardinals are way up there offensively and defensively, so Green Bay will need its A-game if it is to avoid suffering another blowout.
My Betting Prediction: Arizona gives a winning performance to claim the SU, but Green Bay (+7) hangs close to cover the spread.
SUNDAY JANUARY 17
Betting On Seattle Seahawks at CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3)
Analysis: The Carolina Panthers (15-1 SU / 11-5 ATS) have been one of the best surprise stories in this year’s NFL lines and they are coming off the most successful season in the franchise history. One of their 15 wins on the season came against the Seahawks, a 27-23 win in Seattle in Wee 6, so the expectation is that the well-rested Cam Newton and Co. will be able to deliver another win over the Seahawks (11-6 SU / 8-8-1 ATS). The problem, however, is that the Seahawks are one of the best teams when it comes to playoff football, a fact that is affirmed by their back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in the last two years. In addition, the Hawks have owned the Panthers in their recent meetings, going 7-3 SU in their last 10 overall meeting. Russell Wilson is also undefeated against Carolina when playing in the Bank of America Stadium since his rookie year. The Panthers will thus need to have one of their most well-rounded games if they are to hold serve as home favorites.
My Betting Prediction: Newton has a big game, as Carolina (-3) continues its revitalized season with a win plus cover of the cheap spread.
Betting On Pittsburgh Steelers at DENVER BRONCOS (-6.5)
In all sincerity, we really don’t have a sure lock on what will happen in this game between the Steelers (11-6 SU / 8-5-4 ATS) and the Broncos (12-4 SU / 7-7-2 ATS). For starters, both teams have been wobbly when it comes to covering the spread, as is evidenced by their records so far. Then, when the two teams met in December, Denver started hot and scored 27 points in the first half, but all that changed in the second half, as the Steelers outscored the Broncos 21-0 to eventually claim a 34-27 win over Denver. Making matters even more complicated, Denver had Brock Osweiler as the starter that day, something that will be changing this week, given that veteran signal-caller Peyton Manning (who’s had the most confusing season of all QBs in the league this season) will get the start on Sunday. As if that isn’t enough, the status of Pittsburgh’s offense is questionable, considering their starting QB Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, along with his top receiver Antonio Brown. So, yeah, it all jumbled up and you would probably do better by using rock-paper-scissors to predict this game’s outcome than to trust my prediction below.
My Betting Prediction: The Broncos (who are 6-2 SU in their last 8 home against Pittsburgh and 4-1-1 ATS/ 4-2 SU in their last six overall games against Pittsburgh) take advantage of the Steelers banged up offense to claim both the SU and ATS in a one-sided encounter.