In this column, we review opening Divisional Round NFL odds and spot various betting trends and consequent line moves that could prove meaningful towards your NFL picks.
Wild Card Round Recap
It’s debatable whether the wild card round lived up to viewer expectations: the first three games were either bizarre or dull, defensive knock-em-down football scraps that failed to light up the scoreboard. Only Sunday Night Football between the Packers and Redskins served up a thrilling, offensive contest.
As far as the NFL odds board was concerned, it did prove an interesting introduction to the postseason. All four teams opened as favourites at most sports betting outlets (the exception was the Packers vs. Redskins matchup, opening on a PK line or in some case Green Bay at the disadvantage). At closing doors, the road teams closed as considerable favourites, save, once again, for the Packers, who closed as high as the 2-point road underdogs, depending on your sportsbook of choice.
Tale told, only two road teams ended up covering: the lone underdogs Packers easily covered as the +2 underdogs in the 35-18 win over the Redskins while the Chiefs crushed the Texans 30-0 to cover as the -3 road chalk by a whopping 27-points to spare. The Steelers might have covered as well had it not been for the injury to Big Ben late in the third quarter – they were up 15-0 at that point in time and the Bengals were struggling offensively. Finally, the Seahawks looked to be on their way out of the playoffs prematurely, trailing 0-9 going into the fourth quarter as the -4.5-point road chalk. By sheer willpower and determination – and a little bit of luck – the Seahawks rallied to win 10-9 and advance into the divisional round.
Divisional Round Preview
This week’s round of the playoffs marks the divisional round, set to decide the Conference finalists. Marking a complete turnaround from the wild card round, all home teams opened as the considerable home favourites and that NFL betting outlook has held strong through the first few days of open trading.
That falls in line with the Super Bowl 50 NFL betting outlook going into the wild card round, which featured Carolina Panthers as the favourites to win the NFC and the New England Patriots the favourites to win the AFC. In those Conferences, the Cardinals were matched as the second favourites to win the NFC and, similarly, the Denver Broncos were matched as second favourites to win the AFC. All these teams are hosting the divisional round.
Divisional Round Odds and Consensus Betting
In table 1, we look at the entire slate of games – from opening odds at Heritage sportsbook to current odds (Wednesday, January 13, 2016) – and discern where the public is betting according to SBR Consensus Betting polls from our contributing sportsbooks.
The first thing that is immediately obvious is opinion on Saturday’s Divisional slate is divided, featuring split betting with the public divided almost equally on the teams involved. Both the Panthers and Broncos, however, emerge as the top consensus bets in the divisional round, each garnering 58% approximately of the spread tickets at early doors. The pair have also seen the NFL lines for their respective matchups increase by half-a-point.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
According to SBR Consensus betting polls, this is the most heavily bet game of the week at this point in time. It’s also one that features the most even betting across the board: in terms of both spread tickets and money invested. The Chiefs have 48.50 % of spread tickets and 50.07% of the money risked, to the tune of $104, 247.00 from our contributing sportsbooks. The Patriots, meanwhile, have 51.50% of spread tickets and 49.93% of the money risked, to the tune of $103, 974.00. Average wager size is also comparable with $99 on the Chiefs and $93 on the Patriots, respectively, on average.
In spite of what is clearly even betting on this game the Patriots have increased up to 5-points on the NFL odds board. That could be down to reports Julian Edelman looks to be gearing up for a return and overall team fitness (after a spate of injuries down the stretch) looks to be improving.
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals
The matchup between the Packers and Cardinals opened on the highest line on Sunday, a full touchdown at most sports betting outlets with the hosts to the good, naturally. It’s also expected to be the highest scoring game, if the NFL odds were any indication as the total ran up to 50 points at most sportsbooks at opening doors.
On the surface, this game appears to be receiving even betting with 50.79% of spread tickets going towards the Packers and 49.21% of the tickets going towards the Cardinals. However, looking at where the money sits on this game, it’s with the Cardinals. The 49.21% of spread tickets account for 70.21% of the money risked on this game. On the flipside, the 50.79% of spread tickets on the Packers amounts only to 29.80% of the money wagered. Average bet sizes also reveals quite a discrepancy with $44 being the average on the Packers and $107 (more than twice the amount on GB) being the average bet size on the Cardinals.
In spite of these rather contrasting NFL betting trends, the line remains unmoved at most sports betting shops.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
The highly-anticipated contest between the Seahawks and Panthers reveals some interesting NFL betting trends and line movements. Depending on which sportsbook considered the Panthers opened either at -2.5 or -3 at early doors. Table 1 looks at Heritage, which opened with a -2.5 line and moved up to -3. Other instances, such as William Hill, opened with a -3 line but came down to a -2.5 line, which is an indication of reverse line movement. Such reverse line movement has occurred at other contributing sportsbooks at SBR.
Polling Consensus betting from those sportsbooks reveals that the Panthers have received 58.84% of the spread tickets on this game but only a measly 23.84% of the money. Seahawks, meanwhile, have gained just 41.16% of the spread tickets but a whopping 76.16% of the money risked on this game. The average bet size on the Seahawks is at $411 while the average bet size on the Panthers is a paltry $90 in comparison. That’s as good as any indication sharp money is on the Seahawks.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos
The injury question marks surrounding Big Ben (shoulder) and Antonio Brown (concussion) have resulted in limited NFL betting action on this game. As it is, it’s the least bet game of the week for good reason. Still, early public bettors came down on the Broncos at home as the considerable favourites, which caused the NFL line to move up by at least a point – opening at -6 to current -7. For the most part, this looks to be a game that most are wisely employing a watch and wait for their NFL picks.