We usually count on the betting public to overvalue home faves in the Divisional Round. That isn't stopping them from adding the Green Bay Packers to their NFL picks.
If you've been betting on football for a while, you know the drill: Fade the home favorites during the Divisional Round. There are so many recreational bettors in the marketplace now, and they historically overbet the home faves. They're doing it right now, as you read this. Check out our expanded consensus reports, and you'll see the Carolina Panthers drawing more bets than any other playoff team – but much smaller bets than their opponents, the Seattle Seahawks.
So where's all the public money on the Arizona Cardinals (–7)? Bettors are split at press time on whether to put the Cardinals or the Green Bay Packers in their NFL picks this week. However, the Cardinals are drawing an average bet of $129 to just $55 for the Packers, so we can infer that the public is on Green Bay for Saturday's matchup (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC). Surprise surprise.
I Am Superman
But of course they are. The über-recreational bettors who come out for the playoffs aren't betting specifically on home faves; they're betting on the big-name teams they like, and those teams often wind up earning the bye straight into the Divisional Round. This year, Green Bay (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS) had to settle for a Wild Card, but that's not going to stop Packers fans from laying wood on their heroes.
And there are so many Packers fans out there. Brand recognition is not a problem for this team, and QB Aaron Rodgers has his mustachioed face plastered on just about everything these days. Rodgers has that Super Bowl ring from five years ago, too. But past performance does not guarantee future results. Rodgers put up league-average passing numbers this year (–0.5 percent DVOA at Football Outsiders), and at this point, it looks like his body is being held together by chewing gum and dental floss.
Welcome to the Mile High Club
Which brings us to Peyton Manning. The Denver Broncos will start Manning (–26.0 percent passing DVOA) in Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it looks like the betting public is jumping on the Manning bandwagon again, just like old times. The NFL odds for this game are just starting to spread their wings, and Denver has been made a 7-point home chalk, with 58 percent consensus on the Broncos (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS).
We don't have enough data yet to produce an expanded report on this matchup; this might be a good spot for a contrarian bet on the Steelers (11-6 SU, 9-7-1 ATS), but QB Ben Roethlisberger will be playing on Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET, CBS) with torn ligaments in his shoulder, assuming he plays. Losing WR Antonio Brown (concussion) and RB DeAngelo Williams (foot) would be one thing. Putting a wounded quarterback on the field against the Orange Crush defense in cold weather is quite another. No sale.