Wild Card Angles
January 1, 2013
By Marc Lawrence
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NFL Wild Card Round... All In
Home cooking. It used to be a solid handicapping edge during the playoffs.
Not so anymore.
For the longest time backing home teams in the NFL postseason has been a solid-moneymaker, going 167-135-6 (55.1%) dating back to 1980.
Today, however, that would be a mistake as the success of home teams in the playoffs has dissolved quicker than an Alka Seltzer in a cold glass of water.
A closer look finds home teams just 113-102-5 ATS (52.7%) since the 1990 season and, even worse, 64-66-1 ATS (49.2%) since 2000. Thus, like the economy, NFL playoff hosts have fallen on hard times.
The key today to winning in the playoffs is breaking the games down into rounds. And in doing so it’s wise to remember the linemakers have made the visiting teams more attractive (read: value-laden) than ever before.
Let’s take a look into opening round time-tested theories involving unrested, No. 3 or lower seeded teams, in playoff games.
Note: All results are ATS (Against The Spread) and are since 1980, unless noted otherwise.
Teams in NFL Wild Card round contests playing off a straight up season ending loss as a favorite tend to bounce back up off the carpet, going 21-11-1 ATS - including 10-3 ATS at home.
This year finds the Texans and Packers return home looking to right themselves from road favorite losses last weekend.
Wild card road teams have a difficult time after dueling a division opponent in their season ending finale, going 20-40-1 ATS – including 0-4 ATS last year.
Send these highwaymen out as ‘dogs of more than 3 points and the task worsens as they are 4-30 SU and 9-25 ATS.
Not a good sign for the Bengals, Colts and Vikings this week.
Like kids in a candy store, NFL Wild Card teams playing off huge regular season wins tend to crash-and-burn in these playoff openers.
Teams off a SU underdog win are just 11-23 SU and 13-20-1 ATS, including 3-13 SU and 4-12 ATS if the Over/Under total in today’s game is set at more than 41 points.
So long Vikings.
In a similar vein, teams suffer from more than a sugar rush In opening round playoff games if they managed to they beat the spread by 12 or points, going just 5-15-1 ATS when on the road during this round.
The Colts look to throw a show this Sunday.
There you have it. A look at some of the more intriguing Wild Card trends and angles surrounding this year’s card.
I’ll be back next week as we sneak a quick look at the Divisional Round playoff matchups.
Until then, good luck as always.