The NFL playoffs are finally here, which means it is time to run the board in the latest NFL betting primer presented by SuperBook Sports.
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The overall goal of this primer is to paint a picture of the weekend NFL betting slate so you can dive into it with your head on straight. Sports betting is here, and if you are going to bet, you might as well get an edge, right?
Here’s a trend for you via ESPN… Since 2018, teams with a first-round bye have gone 9-1 outright and 7-3 ATS in the divisional round.
All odds are courtesy of SuperBook Sports, and if you are looking for a place to watch and bet the games in person, head up to The Lodge Casino and check out the retail SuperBook sportsbook! Let’s get after it…
Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans: CIN +3.5, TEN -3.5, o/u 47.5
The Titans will make their playoff debut after earning a first-round bye. Tennessee will take on the red-hot Bengals, who are fresh off a 26-19 victory against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals’ defense held firm against a late drive from the Raiders, intercepting Derek Carr on the goal line to punch their ticket to the AFC Divisional round. Cincy has covered five in a row entering this game, and the Titans are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five home playoff games.
Per ESPN, this is the first time a No. 1 seed has not been favored by at least five points in its divisional-round matchup since 2017, when Philadelphia was a 2.5-point underdog. Titans’ Head Coach Mike Vrabel is also 8-0 outright and ATS when he has 9+ days to prepare for an opponent. The Titans enter this matchup about as healthy as they have been all season, with Julio Jones and A.J. Brown ready to rock and Derrick Henry set to return from injury.
Cincy will be without DT Larry Ogunjobi, and both Josh Tupou and Trey Hendrickson are cited as questionable. Neither player practiced this week, and their status for the game is up in the air, although you would expect them to be on the field if they are near 100%.
People continue to doubt the Titans despite their ability to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC. This season, Tennessee beat plenty of quality teams, including four of the remaining playoff teams. Let’s not forget this squad was in the AFC Championship game just two years ago, and they have far more experience in big games compared to Cincy.
Burrow has been sharp, but the Titans are poised to limit his production. Tennessee held the ball for an average of 32:39 during the regular season, which ranked second in the NFL. The Titans are also known for dropping seven into coverage and rushing four, which is the recipe for success against Burrow.
On the flip, the Bengals’ rush defense has been vulnerable, allowing just under six yards per carry over their last three games. With King Henry coming back fresh, paired with the Bengals’ injuries, Tennessee is set up to dominate the trenches and time of possessions. This, in turn, would limit the opportunities for the Bengals’ offense, although they have relied on the deep ball to keep them in games this season.
It will be interesting to see how the Titans come out after the bye week. If they are rusty, they might dig themselves a hole they cannot climb out of. But if they are prepared, they could own this game from start to finish. I do think they will show a bit of rust, which could yield some nice live betting opportunities in-game.
Tennessee has the coaching advantage in my book, and I’m intrigued to see how they come out after the bye. I like the Titans in the game and ATS. While the hook scares me, I think the public constantly downplays them. I don’t typically back Tennessee as a dog, but I think they are loaded with their offense being healthy. If they can get the run game going early, it will establish opportunities for Ryan Tannehill to open up the passing game. Tannehill is not a great QB, but he is good enough to win with the home crowd behind him paired with top-tier talent at the skill positions.
As of Friday afternoon, 67% of the money is on the Titans at SuperBook.
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers: SF +5.5, GB -5.5, o/u 47
The largest spread of the week. The 49ers are riding high after beating the Dallas Cowboys last week, and now face a Packers team they have a history of success against. While the Packers beat them in the regular season, Arron Rodgers is winless in his playoff career against the team he grew up rooting for.
The Packers should be getting some reinforcements with Za’Darius Smith and David Bakhtiari on track to play for Green Bay. On the other hand, San Francisco is banged up, particularly QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G is dealing with shoulder and hand injuries, and various reports earlier in the week suggested he might not be able to play. That caused the line to spike up to 5.5, although it appears Jimmy will play.
The Rodgers’ led offense ranked 2nd in DVOA, although the 49ers were not far behind in 5th place. Once San Francisco committed to Jimmy G, their offense excelled. They also found a sweet spot by using Deebo Samuel out wide and in the backfield. The 49ers are best at running the ball, and they will face a Packers rush defense that allowed the second-most rush yards per game on average and ranked 28th in DVOA.
Let’s get one thing clear: Aaron Rodgers needs to win this game. An early exit would ruin a stellar regular season from Rodgers and the Packers as the QB stamped this season as his version of the Last Dance. This season, Green Bay was 12-5 ATS, although the 49ers have been a great bet as an underdog, posting a 17-10 record ATS as road dogs under Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers are also 8-0 ATS in their last 8 games played in January.
The points are worth a sprinkle to me, but I’m uneasy about this game. I could see Green Bay in a blowout, but with the weather expected to be near freezing, this game could set up nicely for the 49ers’ run offense.
What is interesting to me is the money… 84% of the money is on San Fran per SuperBook, although 66% of the tickets are on Green Bay.
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LAR +3, TB -3, o/u 47.5
Now, THIS is a game. I have been thinking about this one all week, and you Broncos fans out there should also have some rooting interest. The Rams were underdogs twice this season, and they won both of those games outright. Los Angeles has played in plenty of games with a field-goal spread, and Sean McVay has posted a record of 21-15-1 ATS in such games. Tom Brady is 58-30-3 ATS in those same instances.
This game comes down to two factors: Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ pass rush.
Brady is the greatest QB of all time, and knocking him out of the playoff is no easy task. The Bucs are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games and 4-0 ATS in their previous four playoff games. They waxed the Eagles last week and showed their championship potential in the process as Brady continues to play some of the best football of his career. One thing we know about Mr. Brady is that he does not do well under pressure. No QB does well under pressure, but it’s the primary common dominator in his losses.
The Rams are playing with momentum after they thumped the Cardinals last week. Los Angeles has a lethal pass rush with Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd. You know Von will be up for this game, and he knows a thing or two about getting to Brady. He looked good last week and recorded a sack en route to the Rams win. Tampa’s offensive line is vulnerable, with Tristin Wirfs and Ryan Jensen dealing with injuries. There’s no way Tampa will be able to stop this Rams’ pass rush at full strength if their line is hobbled.
While Brady and the Bucs’ offense was dynamite all season, they are, of course, without Antonio Brown and wide receiver Chris Godwin, leaving Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski to soak up a bulk of the duties. Jalen Ramsey is one of the best defensive backs in the league and will take away some of Brady’s options. #12 has done more with far less, but the Bucs could be in trouble if the Rams’ pass rush can get home. The Rams are thin in the secondary, so that is an area of weakness Brady could look to exploit, assuming he has time to throw the ball.
If the Rams want to win this game, it’s imperative Matthew Stafford takes care of the football. He was sensational last week, throwing for over 300 yards and 4 scores, but most importantly, NO TURNOVERS. Interceptions plagued Stafford down the stretch of the regular season and cast a sense of doubt over the Rams. That said, I keep reminding myself McVay managed to get to the big game with Jared Goff.
The Rams’ offense looked great last week, particularly the 1-2 punch of Sonny Michel and Cam Akers. In recent weeks, Odell Beckham Jr. excelled, and the Rams ran up the score without needing to rely on Cooper Kupp. All in all, Stafford was great and earned the first playoff win of his career. Can he do it again? If Stafford does what they brought him into to do, the Rams win this game outright.
I’m bullish on this Rams’ pass rush and think they will get through to put pressure on Brady. I’m on record saying the Bucs will not repeat this season, and the Rams were my preseason Super Bowl pick. With that, I am sticking with my guns and rolling the dice with the Rams and the points.
53% of the tickets are on the Bucs, but 75% of the money is on the Rammies.
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs: BUF +1.5, KC -1.5, o/u 54
The game of the week without question. Per ESPN, home favorites of 1 to 2.5 points are 17-27-1 ATS in the postseason in the Super Bowl era, including 5-16-1 ATS since 2005 and 3-11-1 ATS since 2010. This line has come crashing down with the many high on the Bills after their dominant performance against New England last week.
Josh Allen was nearly perfect with five touchdowns against a respected New England defense. The Wyoming product is 10-6-1 for his career ATS as a road underdog, and the Bills already managed to beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead this season. Buffalo has come out swinging, outscoring their opponents 45-2 in their first 15 minutes of action the last four games. Yes, you read that right.
Kansas City has started games slow as of late, and while they hit their stride in the second half of the regular season, they beat up on some shaky teams. K.C. beat the Broncos, Raiders, and Steelers twice down the stretch. They lost to the Bengals in-between and were pushed to OT against the Chargers.
I just love the way Buffalo has played as of late and think they have the makings to beat the Chiefs in a couple of different ways. The Bills are one of the few teams capable of going toe-to-toe with the Chiefs in a shootout, but they can also win in a slower-paced game. That freezer fest against New England is looking like an outlier as the Bills’ offense has not skipped a beat since.
Kansas City has the highest ceiling of any team in the NFL, but they have looked vulnerable at times this season. The Bills have always had potential, but this could be the year they finally put it all together. I like the Bills to carry over their momentum from last week and put up a good fight against the Chiefs. I’ll take 1.5 points and sprinkle on the moneyline.
72% of the money is on the Bills as well as 53% of the tickets.
That’s all for the betting primer! Be sure to check out the Football Friday Show above. What a great slate of games with plenty of different betting angles. I would like to note that in researching the games for this primer stats, trends and data were pulled from a variety of outlets including ESPN, Covers and The Action Network. These are all great resources for sports bettors, and I highly recommend you do your homework before placing a bet. Enjoy the games, everyone and happy betting!