Picks of the week: Very revealing stats for Saturday’s divisional round playoff games

Wednesday, 08 January 2020 13:42 EST

All right, now this is NFL playoffs betting – four games, do or die, all or nothing, time to leave everything – including all the clichés you can muster – on the field! Of course, winning bets will perk up anyone’s interest in the NFL playoffs but for the football bettor, this is pure holiday season.

And o wow, did NFLbets turn up some killer interesting stats to help us make this year’s divisional round nicely lucrative. First off are some outlier numbers from last week’s results, including:

• All four unders hit, and the NFC no. 6 seeded Minnesota Vikings were the highest-scoring team with 26 points. With dudes like Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo taking the field this weekend, one hardly needs more incentive to bet lotsa overs this week,

• Away teams were 3-1 SU/ATS – and the only loss was by the Buffalo Bills (ATS by ½-point), who were not only the vogue pick to upset in this year’s wildcard round but also managed to run up a 16-0 lead on the perpetually postseason-underperforming Houston Texans. This shouldn’t be too surprising, NFLbets supposes, as home teams went 109-132-1 SU and 104-137-9 ATS in 2019.

• Russell Wilson was the only quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards, and the Tennessee Titans won despite Ryan Tannehill’s 72 passing yards.

• Oddest of all (so to speak) may be NFLbets’ perfect 4-0 record in pointspread betting and 7-0 in all bets last weekend. Yes!

Relevant stats for this weekend’s games include:

• Since 2010, home teams are 30-10 SU – but an even 20-20 ATS – in divisional round games.

• In these 40 games, taking the over has been good for a 25-15 mark. Unders do best at the extreme ends of the scale: In games with a line of under-43 or over-51, the under is 10-6.

• Teams favored by 9½ points or more are 6-1 SU/ATS, with the sole win by Rex Ryan’s New York Jets over the New England Patriots in 2011.

• The big difference-maker for the visiting side? It’s all about the day. In divisional round games on Saturday, the home team is an almost unbelievable 18-2 SU (15-5 ATS) – and a visitor hasn’t won on a divisional Saturday since 2013. This means on Sunday, the chalk may be tossed out the window with home teams just 12-8 SU and an incredible 5-15 ATS over the decade.

Normally NFLbets would look for rather extreme trends like the Saturday advantage or the Sunday ATS disadvantage for home teams – again, especially following the 2019 season in which home field became irrelevant, apparently – but some of these stats are just too compelling.

The Saturday advantage can be figured as a product of higher seeded team’s bye week as well as the short week one team has gotten since the Saturday/Sunday format was implemented; this time around, the Vikings got shortchanged a day. These factors may also explain that 6-1 record SU/ATS by 9½-point favorites as with the inherent advantages, qualitative differences between teams can be magnified.

The reverse is also true: When a playoff team gets back on the 7-day schedule, games get tighter – markedly tighter than bettors would like. Note that the Titans got an *extra* day thanks to the Saturday wildcard game.

So this week, NFLbets is using some reverse logic: For which teams will trends hold? We start the betting chronologically with…

Minnesota Vikings +7 at San Francisco 49ers, over/under 44 points

The Vikings can take pride in a great SU win, though NFLbets was certainly not the only one who reckoned last week’s line of New Orleans Saints -8½ was reasonable. (Sooooooo, Minnesota’s getting fewer points against a better team…? Come on.) New Orleans is a team in decline in the short term. The San Francisco 49ers, by contrast, are not.

On the other hand, the 49ers defense probably isn’t as good as you think and Dalvin Cook may be well-suited to break San Francisco. As it turns out, the Niners opened the season going 8-0 SU (5-3 ATS) and ultimately went 10-1 SU (5-5-1 ATS) against non-playoff teams. In six of their last nine games, the defense allowed 25 points or more, and opponents ran up 100 or more yards on the ground 12 times in 2019. And the San Francisco D’s worst number is in the yards per carry statistic, where they’re bottom-10.

Now can the Vikings score enough points, even if Cook burns, to keep up with the NFL’s no. 2 scoring offense? Since the Great Rejuvenation of Kirk Cousins in week 5, the Vikes are averaging 27.0 points per game but in the last five have managed just 20, 39 (including one TD scored by the defense), 10, 19 and 26 (20 in regular time). We daresay that won’t be enough. Take the San Francisco 49ers -7 vs Minnesota and take the over on an O/U of 44 points.

Tennessee Titans +9 at Baltimore Ravens, over/under 46½ points

The hot take: Damn, this line is too high. After all, the Titans are one of the hottest teams still playing, on a 7-3 SU (6-3-1 ATS) clip since Ryan Tannehill took over as starter. And Derrick Henry has been an absolute beast with 168.4 ypg in the past seven games to go with 11 TDs.

But these Ravens haven’t lost SU since September and are on a 9-1 ATS run in which their *average* result is a 10.4-point win; this run includes West Coast games, late games, games against playoff contenders, AFC teams and NFC teams. Consider playoff experience and whatnot all you wish, but the truth is that the 2019 Baltimore Ravens have been beating everyone worth playing, and sometimes you just have to bet football. Take the Baltimore Ravens -9 vs Tennessee and, yep, take the over on an O/U of 46½ points.

NFLbets’ Picks of the Week last week: 7-0.
NFLbets this season, all recommended bets: 65-44-1.

–written by Os Davis

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