Underdog Value Still In Play For NFL Divisional Round

profile image of Jason.Lake
Underdog Value Still In Play For NFL Divisional Round

Jason’s 2018-19 NFL picks record through Wild-Card Weekend:
9-13 ATS, 0-2 ML (minus-2.90 units), 5-8 Totals

Now that the college football campaign has ended in delightfully profitable fashion, it’s time to shift our attention back to the pros. We’re heading into the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, and as usual, we’re looking at the underdogs for value, with a healthy dose of ‘under’ picks thrown in. It ain’t rocket science, folks.

We’re not the only ones. According to the consensus figures at SBR, each of the four underdogs on the NFL odds board is pulling in a majority of bettors. But we haven’t seen much line movement at all since the open. This requires further investigation. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know the real story behind these Divisional Round matchups.

I’m Not Looking for New England

This is where the expanded consensus reports come in handy. The amount wagered is key here; three of those four underdogs are drawing over half the action for their respective games, but none of them are getting the “sharp bump’ we’d normally like to see. In fact, once you boil everything down to average bet size, it’s actually larger for three of the favorites, and tied for the fourth.

The fourth team in question: the New England Patriots. They’re knotted up with the Los Angeles Chargers at $254 per side, despite drawing 40.25 percent of both bettors and monies wagered. The Pats have moved a shade from –4.5 to –4 since the open – closer to the 2.5-point projection at FiveThirtyEight, but as my Contrarian alter-ego said, we’re not interested in fading this team during the Divisional Round at –4.5 anyway.

A Case of .5

We’ll still take the Dallas Cowboys (+7 away) and especially the Philadelphia Eagles (+8 away), although the Eagles have dipped from +8.5 at the open for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. Again, it’s the Eagles with 59.67 percent of the bettors and 58.79 percent of the money, but the Saints have the larger average bet at $84 to Philly’s $81. Curious.

Meanwhile, it looks like bettors are less interested overall in Saturday’s battle between the Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams. And the Rams, oddly enough, might be the “real’ sharp NFL pick here. They’re pulling in just 39.35 percent of bettors, but 52.09 percent of the money, for an average bet of $69. Nice.

Dallas is the lightest of all the eight Divisional teams at just $41 per wager; they didn’t cover their Wild-Card win over the Seahawks, and it is the Cowboys, after all. They haven’t had much playoff success since they last won the Super Bowl in 1995-96. But we’ll keep fading the Rams anyway. There’s even a +7.5 (–117) line available on Dallas as we go to press, a small enough premium on juice to make that extra half-point worth purchasing. Shop smart, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.