NFL Divisional Round Playoffs What the Bookies Missed

Nila Amerova

Friday, January 10, 2014 6:57 PM GMT

Eight teams go into the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend; only four teams will emerge into the next round. Which teams will be left standing? Join us as we examine Saturday’s matchups and deliver our value NFL picks for your consideration.

New Orleans Saints +300 (+8.0 -110) @ Seattle Seahawks -380 (-8.0 -110), O/U 45.5

Analysis: The last time the pair met was in Week 13 when the Seattle Seahawks (13-3, 7-1 home) disembowelled the New Orleans Saints 34-7. Thus, it should come as no surprise to NFL betting fans that Seahawks are both favoured at solid -380 NFL odds to win outright and are placed commandingly on an eight-point spread. Indeed, the overwhelming expectation is for history to repeat itself. But how much stock can we put into the outcome of that game? After all, this is the NFL playoffs, when all bets are off and anything can happen. Even the unthinkable: so-so road Saints beating dominant Seahawks at home, for instance.

Of course, that’s exactly what the Saints (11-5, 3-5 away) will hope to accomplish on Saturday. That they finally put in a convincing road performance in their playoff opener went some way towards lifting their estimation in NFL circles and putting paid on the notion they couldn’t win on the road. What’s more, they not only defied the NFL odds but also expert predictions by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles –most NFL experts and online betting narratives were backing the Eagles, as a matter of fact – and that should boost the Saints’ confidence.

Still, beating the Seahawks is easier said than done, a long shot at + 300 NFL odds at Bet365. Let’s not forget the Seahawks are conspicuously superior to the Eagles in just about every category that matters. A win over the Eagles – a commendable result, of course – doesn’t imply by extension the Saints’ odds should improve against Seahawks. After all, they only just beat the Eagles 26-24 and it was hardly Brees ’best game of the season either.

Seattle’s home field advantage for this game adds weight to their odds as the overwhelming betting favourites. CenturyLink Field is a daunting prospect for most teams, as evinced by their 7-1 home record to date this season, an extension of an impressive record that stands at 16 wins in their last 17 home games.

Moreover, a rested Seattle, back to full strength almost (Percy Harvin returning to the fold is even a possibility), presents a tough prospect for Drew Brees and Company to breakdown. Memories of their last trip, in which they were stifled to just 12 downs, barely 200 yards and a solitary touchdown, must have been haunting the Saints all week long. They’ll be anxious to avoid a similar fate on Saturday.

NFL Betting Verdict: Saints defied expectations to advance through the wildcard round, thus earning some plaudits. Market estimation hasn’t grown so much to suggest the Saints are the smart pick to win outright. At best, it’s improved their chances to compete, which means the value NFL pick would be on the Saints to cover the NFL betting spread.

NFL Picks: Seattle to win outright at -380; Saints to cover; Under 45.5

[gameodds]16/254531/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Indianapolis Colts +250 +7.0 (-105) @ New England Patriots (-7.0 -115) -310

Analysis: Many are of the opinion that Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 5-3 away) are being slightly overrated at the expense of New England Patriots (12-4, 8-0 home). That this NFL betting market should be even more heavily tipped towards the Patriots than it already is. But because the Colts pulled off the second largest comeback in the history of the playoffs, when they defeated the Chiefs 45-44 in the wildcard round, their NFL betting value improved and we have a betting line that sets the Colts and Patriots apart by a mere touchdown.

Consider this. Did the Colts win the game or did the Chiefs lose the game? To put it more bluntly: the Chiefs failed to close the game. Ergo, they allowed the Colts to storm back. Ergo they effectively lost the game. Everything is down to perspective and the aforementioned perspective puts the focus on the Chiefs and their failure rather than the Colts and their successful comeback. Put this way, you can see why some are of the opinion the Colts are overrated. This doesn’t mean that Andrew Luck (9th overall in total QBR) isn’t good – [simmer down Luck lovers] – or the Colts aren’t half decent (17th in pass offense) but against the Pats, they will have all to do to prove their value in NFL betting. For our money, we’re backing the undervalued NFL favourites Patriots.

NFL Picks: Patriots to win outright at -310 and to cover

[gameodds]16/254593/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]