With one week remaining, gut feelings on NFL playoffs

Friday, 01 January 2021 17:16 EST

As NFLbets has stated previously, betting in NFL week 17 is a real bitch – not that we’ll avoid the sportsbook this week or anything, but our main focus is already on trying to beef up the Super Bowl betting bankroll over the course of the playoffs. To that end, we’ve got a few idea already penciled in for the first weekend of postseason games in 2021.

Along the lines we’re thinking are…

•  The Buffalo Bills are the team to beat in the AFC, if not the entire league. Along with the whole 2020 mojo, i.e. why not a team like Buffalo after a year like ’20, is the simple fact that this team has gone undefeated since week 7 save for the increasingly anomalous-looking last-second loss to Arizona. The spectacular rise of Josh Allen into MVP conversations was precipitated by the nigh-unstoppable Stefon Diggs, and the Bills have been good for a ridiculous 35.3 points per game over their past seven – that’s a 2019 Super Bowl champion Chiefs-like rate – and Buffalo boasts a defense that’s top-5 in DVOA.

NFLbets caught 6/1 odds on the Bills in the “To Win AFC Championship” proposition bet two weeks ago, and they’re already down to 9/2. And the 9/1 on them to win the Super Bowl is quite the shrinkage from opening day, when the Bills were getting 40/1 odds. These odds will only get shorter.

•  And NFLbets may like the Green Bay Packers even more – not because they’re necessarily better than the Bills right now, mind you, but rather because, well … what other NFC team can we believe in? The Saints are just 1-2 SU (0-3 ATS) against playoff teams not named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and have played one postseason contender since week 10. The Carroll & Wilson Seahawks have been good for 10.66 wins per season the past nine, but haven’t won a game beyond the wild card round since their last Super Bowl. As for Tampa Bay, well…

•  The Buccaneers won’t survive the second round – if they survive the first. Since the Washington Football Team took care of business against the Pittsburgh Steelers, thereby serving up notice that, yes, they’re bringing a near-elite defense, NFLbets has believed that the Team would take the NFC East and upset a highly overrated Buccaneers team. Since then, Washington went to their third-string QB, cut him and will give Taylor Heinicke his first NFL start in week 17; is it any wonder the Dallas Cowboys crawled their way back into this “race”?

Meanwhile, the Bucs looked great dismantling the coach-less Detroit Lions last week and an 10-5 record is nothing to scoff at … unless you take a closer look. The truth is that the Buccaneers are an awful 1-5 SU/2-4 ATS against playoff teams in 2020 (assuming the New York Giants don’t win the NFC East; if they do, the Bucs went 2-5 SU/ATS in the statistic) with losses at New Orleans, at Chicago, vs New Orleans, vs the Rams and vs Kansas City.

Whereas awesome defense may not be enough to completely shut down a star-studded Tampa Bay offense and Tom Brady probably has one more miracle playoff game win in him, these Buccaneers certainly aren’t going far.

•  So why not the Kansas City Chiefs? NFLbets marvels every year at how NFL bettors seem to forget the rarity of repeat champions in the NFL: They have been just eight since Super Bowl I and only three since 1981. Too much can happen, too many any given Sundays, between one February and another.

Additionally, Mahomes & Co. simply aren’t intimidating teams as they did on the way to Super Bowl LIV. In December 2019, the Chiefs outscored opponents by an average score of 31-12; this past December, that margin had decreased to 26-22. Of course, Kansas City went just as undefeated in December ’20 as in ’19, but we’d daresay the Chiefs will face stiffer competition in the playoffs this time around as well.

•  Come on, now: After this season, it’s the Cleveland Browns, right? The weirdness factor for the 2020 season was certainly high, with Tuesday afternoon and Friday night games among the bizarre. But is even this enough for the Browns, seemingly antithetical with the concept of “Super Bowl.” Since the AFL-NFL merger, the joke has been that a Browns Super Bowl win would be tantamount to a sign of coming apocalypse – but at this point in history, the smart money is probably on the apocalypse arriving first…

–written by Os Davis