Wild Card Round Opening Odds: Where Are Early Bettors Looking?

Nikki Adams

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 1:08 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 1:08 PM UTC

As the dust settled on the regular season, a mad rush to put out NFL odds for the highly anticipated playoffs ensued. We look at the opening NFL odds and spot meaningful moves at early doors.

Chiefs vs. Texans
Opening Line: KC -3
Current Line: KC -3

With the Kansas City Chiefs riding a ten-game winning streak into the playoffs, it’s no surprise that they are the favorites on the road at every single sports betting shop. The Chiefs wrapped up a 11-5 SU season with a 23-17 win over the Raiders at Arrowhead. The Texans, meanwhile, clinched the AFC South title on the heels of a 9-7 SU season that largely benefited from the trials and tribulations suffered by the Colts and the general lack of competition in the AFC South.

NFL betting trends reveal lopsided betting with approximately 70% of all betting going towards the Chiefs, so confident is the public in what they are selling that they’re piling on top. Undoubtedly, the Chiefs have the look of the better team but the Texans have J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins, two formidable prospects that have played a part in the Texans’ strong finish on the season (9-7 ATS), which includes three straight wins down the stretch, seven in their last nine games.

So far the 3-point advantage to the Chiefs is holding strong on the NFL odds board, but the juice on this game is moving dramatically with the Chiefs now trading as high as -3 (-130) at BetOnline, BetCRIS and JustBet.

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Steelers vs. Bengals
Opening Line: CIN -1
Current Line: PIT -2.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers squeezed into the NFL playoffs behind a straightforward 28-12 win over the hapless Cleveland Browns, and received some help from the Buffalo Bills in the process as Rex Ryan and his lads defeated the NY Jets 22-17, thereby eliminating them from the AFC Wildcard race.

Seeded sixth in the NFL playoffs, the Steelers are slated to take on third seed Cincinnati Bengals, setting up a divisional showdown in the first round of the playoffs. After proving they were good money at the cash window, covering as the whopping 13-point closing road faves over the Browns in week 17, the Steelers improved to a 9-6-1 ATS record on the season with a 6.5-point margin of victory and a plus 4.6-point differential against the spread. The Steelers have covered four of their last seven games, including two straight away games. It’s not without some irony that it includes covering as the 1-point road underdogs in a 33-20 win over the Bengals four weeks ago.

The Bengals closed the season on a 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens with backup AJ McCarron calling the shots. However, they failed to cover as the 10-point home chalk. Nevertheless, the Bengals are one of the best teams against the spread this season finishing with a 12-3-1 record highlighted by an 8.8-point winning margin and a plus 4.7-point differential against the spread.

Some sportsbooks opened this game with the Bengals as the notional 1-point home chalk, while others opened with the Steelers favored on the road and as high as 3-points (Pinnacle). Since early doors, the NFL betting line has settled on the Steelers at -2.5 at most sports betting exchanges, with a lot of the action coming down the wire going towards the Steelers (71% spread tickets, 67% ML and 64% OVER).

That NFL betting trend in all likelihood has everything to do with the quarterback matchup. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense is one of the most formidable in the league, long touted as one that nobody would want to come across in the playoffs. Another aspect to it is the Bengals’ quarterback dilemma: Andy Dalton may not be fit to play at the weekend, which leaves the quarterback position yet to be decided. In spite of this key question mark hanging over this matchup, it’s the most bet game of the week so far as NFL bettors aren’t wasting any time.

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Seahawks vs. Vikings
Opening Line: SEA -5
Current Line: SEA -5.5

The Seattle Seahawks threw down the gauntlet with an impressive account in Arizona, defeating the Cardinals 36-6 all while trading as the significant road underdogs. That they gave the Cardinals a taste of their own medicine – just a week prior the Cards had decimated the Packers in Arizona – only made the outcome all the more spectacular. Speaking of the Packers, the Vikings upset the Packers at Lambeau and clinched the NFC North title. So they too are coming off an impressive win in week 17, and go into the NFL playoffs for the first time with second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and home advantage riding in their favor. All the good that is going to do them, if the NFL odds were any indication which are unabashedly high on the Seahawks on the road.

Not surprisingly, most bets coming down the wire are going towards the Seahawks, which has caused the line to move up to -5.5 already. Of all the games of the week and of all the three road chalks, the Seahawks emerge as the consensus bet of the week so far with 80% of spread tickets. That’s likely down to the convincing win by the Seahawks in Minnesota only five weeks ago, a 38-7 evisceration that could prove a handy preview of what to expect on Sunday (here’s something funny, the Seahawks then were trading as the mere 2.5-point road chalk). If the current NFL betting trends continue and the Seahawks remain the consensus bet of the week, this line could be headed towards a touchdown sooner rather than later. Bet now on your NFL picks if you like this line. For our money, this is one to wait on until it moves elsewhere before we choose which side of the coin to bet.

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Packers vs. Redskins
Opening Line: WAS -1.5
Current Line: PK

It’s somewhat strange to see the Green Bay Packers opening as the road underdogs in the NFL playoffs, particularly to Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins. Let’s face it, the only reason why the Redskins are the NFC East division champions is because of the mess within the division itself – none of the teams struck a convincing pose on the season and all of them did their absolute best not to win the NFC East title until the Redskins decided they might as well, if there were no takers. It’s difficult to decide therefore whether the Redskins are legitimate playoff contenders or simply lucky to be in the postseason. This game will certainly go a long way towards determining which it is.

Early NFL betting reveals a surprising tilt towards the Redskins with 60% of money going towards the hosts. Typically, the Packers emerge as a popular NFL pick in betting circles. Guess recent form and abysmal losses to the Cards and Vikings have taken the shine off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Nevertheless, it’s early days yet and this NFL betting line is sure to hop around quite a lot during the week, with the Packers potentially even closing as road favorites by the weekend, rounding out Wild Card Playoff betting on a chalky road note.

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