Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:55 PM
Sunday's Best Bets
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NFL Divisional Playoff Round Picks
Sunday's NFL playoff action shines the spotlight on both #2 seeds in the AFC and NFC, as Kansas City and Green Bay aim to protect their home field and move on to a Conference Championship game the following week. And if you have been able to catch this piece I penned earlier in the week, you'll already know what teams I like and expect to win this week.
But just because the “State Farm Super Bowl” is what I believe we've all got coming down the pipeline, that doesn't mean laying the chalk with the two home teams is the best way to go this weekend. A ML parlay in the -120 to -130 range is always an option on those two home sides if you wanted to go that route, and I may end up doing that myself. However, in terms of the sides and totals for these games, there are two clear betting options in my view.
Houston at Kansas City (3:05 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #1: Houston/Kansas City Under 51
Odds provided by FanDuel (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
It's been nothing but 'over' money since this line came out, pushing the opening number up form 49 to 51. Seemingly the entire betting market has recommendations on the 'over' for this game, and on paper it's easy to see why. You've got two dynamic QB's, two suspect defenses, and a Chiefs team that is surrounded by the belief that they've got to play fast and put up 35+ to win. But oddly enough, if you do believe the Chiefs win this game outright as I do, the 'under' actually correlates quite well with that belief from a historical perspective. How, you may ask? Andy Reid's playoff history. Let me explain.
Everyone knows how good Andy Reid's ATS record (75%+) is throughout his career off a bye, and that will be continually brought up for those backing the Chiefs. But if you go back and look at all the playoff games he's been involved in since taking the Eagles to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, you'll see that Reid's success in the playoffs completely depends on his defenses showing up and balling out.
Starting with the 2006 season while he was with the Eagles, Reid's teams are 5-9 SU in playoff games. In those five wins, the 'under' is a perfect 5-0, with scores of 23-20, 26-14, 23-14, 30-0, and 31-13 in this round last year. Those are final scores that have never been more then 44 points, a full touchdown below this current total.
In Reid's nine playoff losses during that span, the O/U record comes out to 6-3 O/U, as opponents have put up 30+ on Reid's teams four different times in those scenarios. We all remember how epic last year's AFC Championship game was between the Chiefs and the Pats, but once that game cashed the 'over' ticket, history told you it was likely to be a Chiefs loss.
Funny enough, Reid's teams are also 4-1 ATS in those five playoff wins, so maybe laying the chalk with Kansas City isn't that bad of an idea after all – especially with that turnover angle favoring them as well from my earlier piece this week – but the 'under' does seem like the better bet to me, as that's still a lot of points to lay.
Specifically regarding this year's team, you can understand the hesitance from the market in trusting the Chiefs defense. The argument there being that the Chiefs didn't really play any sort of offense down the stretch when they were holding teams to sub-20 point days (five of last six KC opponents scored fewer than 20 points, and the only one that did came in Week 17). But eventually runs like that become the new norm, and at the very least, instill a tremendous amount of confidence in those 11 defensive players on the field.
Houston's offense has not been anything impressive for weeks now, as they really are just a two-man show with Watson chucking the ball to Hopkins. Buffalo held that duo off the stat sheet for the 1st half last week and the result was a goose egg for the Texans.
So with the masses jumping over one another to take this 'over', I'm looking the other way here and banking on Andy Reid's playoff history as a winner in a specific game to hold true in terms of the total once again. KC's on a 1-4 O/U run in their last five playoff games at home, their last five playoff games as a favorite, and are 1-5 O/U in their last six games overall this season. There eventually comes a point where what you see from a team becomes their new reality and can't be cast aside by lazy narratives like “they haven't played anyone.”
When that reality is in the transitional phase in the betting market like it is now with the Chiefs, there is plenty of value in going the other way, and that's precisely what I'm doing here with this 'under' play.
Seattle at Green Bay (6:40 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #2: Green Bay -4
Odds provided by FanDuel (IN, NJ, PA & WV only)
Green Bay does have a point spread I've got no problem laying this week, as this is the week where the rubber meets the road for the Seahawks.
Yes, it's easy to say that you want to take the points with Russell Wilson given how great of a season he's had, or lean on things like Seattle being 8-1 ATS in their last nine as a road underdog and 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 games away from home.
Seattle's 8-1 SU record away from home adds another log to the fire for Seattle backers, and given that the Packers haven't really gotten much respect all year long, Seattle does have the feel of one of those dreaded public underdogs this week. Sure, 'public' underdogs cash in one-off situations all the time, but if you make it a routine to always be on that side, chances are long-term your bankroll will be heading south.
On the other side of the coin, Green Bay did quite well themselves at home this year (7-1 SU), and all but one of those seven wins came by at least five points. The fact that only two of them came by more then eight points is another piece of evidence Seattle backers will counter with, but we don't need them to win by 8+ this week; a win by five or more will do just fine.
This is also the spot where Aaron Rodgers, who came out multiple times this year and said that he and his team were getting no respect, knows he's got to show up in a big way to keep those detractors quiet for at least one more week. He and his teammates were 7-3 ATS this season as single-digit favorites regardless of venue, and with this being the “back nine” of Rodgers career, and him knowing the tremendous success rate teams with a 1st round bye have in getting to the Super Bowl, he can't afford to waste this chance.
Seattle's defense allowed opposing QB's to complete 64.22% of their passes this year, and you spot Rodgers that kind of completion rate and the Packers point total will end up being too high to surpass. Those numbers for Seattle also came in games with Mason Rudolph getting the majority of the snaps (Big Ben got hurt vs Seattle), Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Schaub, Kyle Allen, and Josh McCown last week. The Seahawks caught about every break you could against teams with injured QB's this year and they still gave up what they did through the air.