Best Last-Minute Value on the Divisional Playoffs Board

David Schwab

Friday, January 12, 2018 1:53 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 1:53 PM UTC

The NFL playoffs move to the Divisional Round with the top two seeds from each conference joining the party to face the winners from last weekend’s Wild-Card Round. These are some of the most heavily bet games of the year, so value on the board can translate to dollars in your pocket.

The underdogs ruled the day last weekend with a perfect 4-0 mark against the spread, while the total on SBR NFL Odds closing lines stayed UNDER in three of the four games. There are some indications that this trend could hold true in a couple of games this weekend.

Divisional Round Betting Line Movements

Atlanta has the unique distinction of being a road wild-card team that is favored against the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles heading into this Saturday’s NFC clash. The bettors have been onboard with Falcons so far by driving the spread up to 3 points after it has opened at 2.5. The total line has held steady at 41.

New England opened as a heavy 13.5-point home favorite for Saturday night’s AFC tilt against Tennessee, another wild-card team that won its game straight-up. That line has held steady all week to add value to the Patriots. They closed as double-digit favorites in four of their last six games and went on to cover the spread in three of those. The total for this game sits at 48.5 points after opening at 48.

Sunday’s first matchup is an AFC battle between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Pittsburgh holding firm as a 7.5-point home favorite. The total has slid from 41.5 to 41 points. The Jaguars closed as 7.5-point road underdogs in a Week 5 trip to Heinz Field and came away with a stunning 30-9 upset.

The New Orleans Saints opened their regular season with a 29-19 loss to the Minnesota Vikings as 3-point road underdogs. They will face the Vikings again this Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium as 5-point underdogs with all the early money going towards Minnesota. This spread opened at four points with the total set at 44. Early money on the OVER has pushed the current total to 46.5 points.

Divisional Round Key Betting Trends
  • The Falcons are 1-7 SU in their last eight road games against Philadelphia while going 1-6-1 ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in five of the last seven meetings in Philadelphia.
  • Tennessee has lost five straight to New England SU and it is 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings. The total has gone OVER in seven of the last 10 meetings overall, and it has gone OVER in six of the last seven games played in New England.
  • Jacksonville is 12-5 ATS in its last 17 games against the Steelers, and it has posted a 4-1 record both SU and ATS in its last five road games in Pittsburgh. The total has stayed UNDER in 15 of the last 23 games between these two AFC foes.
  • New Orleans has won four of the last five meetings SU, but Minnesota has a 7-2 edge ATS in the last nine games. The Vikings have covered in four of their last six road games against the Saints and the total has gone OVER in six of the last seven meetings in Minnesota.

Divisional Round Top-Valued Play

There are certain variables in all four games that can have an impact on the outcome, especially in Philadelphia with Nick Foles taking over for an injured Carson Wentz at quarterback. Three of the games will be played outdoors in a cold-weather venue, and the top two seeds in the NFC were not even in the playoffs last season.

Following the line movements since they were first released last Sunday, the fact that bettors have driven up the betting line to 5 points between the Saints and the Vikings adds some serious value to the underdog. New Orleans is playing its best ball of the season behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, and as an added dimension it has a running game that is ranked fifth in the NFL.

Most NFL experts have already handed the NFC title to Minnesota, but this is still a team that has not won a playoff game since 2009 going with a quarterback in Case Keenum who is making his first career start in the postseason. I am always leery of any team that has been completely over-hyped by the media on TV and the general betting public with their early action.

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