In this column, we preview the Conference Championships opening odds, spot NFL betting trends and ensuing line moves in order to give insight to your NFL picks.
The Road To The Championships
The first two rounds of the NFL playoffs featured some contrasting trends: the wildcard round served up wins by all four road teams while the divisional round served up wins by home teams. In both instances, the winners closed on the NFL odds board as the favorites – save for the Packers, who closed as the lone underdogs on the road to the Redskins in the wildcard round.
The highly anticipated Conference Championships sets up rather interestingly for NFL bettors with the Patriots matched as the road favorites and the Panthers matched as home favorites. If the NFL odds were any indication, the Patriots and Panthers emerge as the savvy NFL pick of their respective Conference showdowns. After all, the bookies have had it right so far, haven’t they?
Look ahead lines proposed last week showed a clear intention towards the Patriots and Panthers. 5Dimes released proposed lines of -1.5 for the Patriots on the road in Denver and -2.5 for the Panthers at home to the Cardinals.
Opening odds this week saw those proposed lines improve by 1.5-points on the Patriots and half a point on the Panthers. We can assume the divisional round has everything to do with it – from how the pair were evaluated by odds makers and the indelible impression they left on NFL bettors following their wins at the weekend.
Patriots vs. Broncos
Indeed, NFL bettors are all over the favorites in both cases. According to SBR Consensus Betting Trends Polls, Patriots have acquired 67.06% of spread tickets and a whopping 80% of the money risked on this game. Average wagers on the Patriots are also double (approx. $277) of those on the Broncos (approx. $140).
The fact that the percentage of money on the Patriots is greater than the percentage of spread tickets can be an indication that the public and sharp bettors are on the defending champions.
It’s interesting that both public and sharp bettors would be so unanimously sold on the Patriots. Tom Brady and the Patriots have struggled at Mile High in recent seasons, going just 2-6 SU in Denver which includes the loss to the Broncos in the 2013 AFC Championship game. In fact, Denver are 5-1 SU against New England in their last six meetings at Mile High.
Other NFL betting trends that suggest the Broncos just might be the smart NFL pick despite the NFL betting trends currently in progress are:
The Patriots are just 1-4-2 ATS in their last seven games against a team with a SU winning record and they are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games. The total has gone OVER in their last four postseason games.
Head-to-head in this AFC tilt, the home team has covered in the last six meetings and the total has gone OVER in eight of the last 11 games played in Denver. New England are an unconvincing 1-5 ATS in its last six road games against the Broncos.
Still, there are negating NFL trends on the Broncos to consider as well.
The Broncos are 1-4-1 ATS in their last six playoff games and 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games played at home. The total has stayed UNDER in seven of their last 10 home games.
Denver is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing New England.
Cardinals vs. Panthers
Betting on the NFC tilt features overwhelming action on the Panthers with the hosts receiving 70% of spread tickets since opening doors. At first glance, this appears to be similar to the AFC tilt betting trends. However, the difference in this game is in the percentage of money and its distribution. Whereas the Patriots were receiving the larger share of spread tickets and an even greater share of the money, the Panthers are receiving a large share of spread tickets but a lesser percentage of the money – the current split is 70% of tickets and 56% of the money. That could be an indication of sharp money coming down on the Cardinals at some point – 30% of spread tickets and 44% of the money.
Indeed, depending on the sportsbook of choice consensus betting polls show marked action on the Cardinals as the road underdogs where the gap in percentage of spread tickets versus money is even greater, cracking the 50% mark on the money. That’s further indication sharp bettors aren’t with the public as much on this game.
Once again, it’s rather fascinating that sharp bettors would be on the Cardinals so. Consider the Panthers practically decimated the Seahawks in the first half and the Cardinals nearly buggered it against the Packers.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Patriots-Broncos game is the most bet game of the week at the moment. Late NFL betting coming down the wire could have an impact on how the Cardinals-Panthers game stacks up on the NFL odds board in terms of NFL betting trends yet.
Arizona is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Carolina
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Arizona's last 9 games on the road
Carolina is 16-1 SU in its last 17 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina's last 6 games at home