NFL Picks: Wild Card Weekend Betting Trends & Games That Apply

Nikki Adams

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 10:45 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016 10:45 PM UTC

In this column, we spot meaningful moves on the NFL odds board ahead of the Wild-Card Weekend in the NFL playoffs. Check out the moves we’ve spotted and what NFL trends are currently in play.


Chiefs vs. Texans
Depending on your sportsbook of choice, the NFL betting line on this game opened either on 3-points (Pinnacle) or 3.5 points (Heritage) on January 4, following Sunday’s round of NFL action that capped week 17 of the regular season. Though most sportsbooks appear to have decided on 3-point opening line and it looks to have held fast across the board, albeit with alternating juice. The only exception, here is Pinnacle Sports moving up by half a point (-3.5) as we reach midweek trading.

For the most part, we can assume there’s relative consistency amongst odds makers and their take on this matchup. What’s more, based on the NFL betting trends or Consensus Betting polls, public betting seems to be lop-sided with most of the action coming down the wire going towards Kansas City. In the case of Pinnacle where the lopsided betting reaches the 70% threshold the NFL line moved up by half-a-point.


Steelers vs. Bengals
The NFL betting line on this game stands in stark contrast to the regular season bottom line of each team and the NFL playoff seeding. Steelers come into this game as the road chalk, despite sporting a lesser SU record on the season, which saw them lose out to the Bengals in their AFC North title defence campaign this season, and the sixth seed. Considering Andy Dalton is still listed as doubtful for this game, it makes perfect sense. Bengals will be relying on backup quarterback AJ McCarron, putting their postseason hopes on the young, unheralded quarterback’s shoulders as they attempt to defy the stigma of being a one-and-out side in the playoffs. Those aren’t ideal circumstances at all against a divisional rival that has looked dialled in down the stretch and finally has its starter Big Ben fully fit.

Not surprisingly, the contrasting realities of both these sides ahead of the playoffs and the circumstances with which they are set to undertake the postseason has triggered a significant lean towards the Steelers across the board. Then again, one wonders if both sides were at full capacity if the NFL betting trends would be any different – let’s not forget, Marvin Lewis is 0-6 SU in the playoffs and Andy Dalton is 0-5 SU in the playoffs. Then there is also the Primetime Andy Dalton to consider in the equation, who leaves much to be desired.

Most sportsbooks opened with the Steelers as the 2.5-point road favorites but on the heels of early NFL betting they swelled to anywhere from 3-points (Bookmaker) or 3.5-points (Heritage) almost immediately. Instances of reverse line movements at early doors are also recorded where the Steelers dropped in favor (for example -3.5 to -2.5 at Heritage) before surging back up to 3-points. These contrasting line movements suggest the action coming down the wire is a combination of two separate trends, a) public betting on the Steelers reacting to preconceived notions of the Bengals and the real concern about the injury to Andy Dalton and b) potentially sharp betting on the Bengals as the significant home underdogs.


Seahawks vs. Vikings
Consensus betting trends reveal the Seahawks have the bulk of the spread tickets on this game, yet their NFL odds are demonstrating reverse line movement practically across the board. Most sportsbooks opened around the 5.5-point line – some such as William Hill opened on 6-points – but, immediately, the line swelled up to 6-or 6.5-points accordingly following a heavy stream of early betting on Seattle (Pinnacle Sports). It wasn’t long though before the NFL line took a nosedive, moving as low as 4.5-points (Pinnacle and Heritage), a reverse line movement suggesting sharp action on the Vikings quickly followed. Since NFL betting odds went to press, there’s been a lot of hopping up and down with the lines on this game in proportion to the spurts of betting coming down the wire. All in all, this is fast becoming the most heavily bet game of the wild-card round and it remains to be seen where it settles. No matter where it does, though, suffice it to say betting against the Seahawks in the postseason is a terrifying prospect, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly when determining your NFL picks.


Packers vs. Redskins
Last season’s MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers appear to be attracting very little love in NFL betting circles, which is somewhat surprising to us. Typically, the Packers are one of the league’s most popular bets amongst neutrals and fans. Obviously, their rather head-scratching season – a tale of two contrasting halves almost – has a lot to do with this sudden apathy.

NFL odds makers weren’t unanimous in their assessment of this matchup, some rolling out a PK line (Pinnacle) at early doors while others going with Redskins as the 2-point home chalk or thereabouts. There’ve been some interesting moves on the NFL odds board since that early serving, namely with the Redskins moving into underdog territory, dropping from approximately -2 to +1, marking a 3-point move despite consensus betting reports showing the slightest lean towards the hosts (Table 1). Sharp money evidently coming down the wire on the Packers as the road underdogs triggered this sudden fence jump on the NFL odds board. As it is, the Packers are now holding as the 1-point road favorites despite garnering less spread tickets. It remains to be seen where the NFL betting line settles on this game as more action is sure to follow in the latter stages of the week.

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