Hot & Not Report – Wild Card
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Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under - O/U
Wild Card Betting Angles
The NFL playoffs are finally here, and while it may look different than it has in the past with only one bye week team and seven contestants in each conference, back-to-back triple headers this weekend should be highly entertaining.
Only having one bye week team does complicate a few historical angles that will be touched on in a minute, as under the 2020 format, there would be a lot more entries from the #2 seed in the past regarding the 30+ point angle in Week 17 coming up.
And after last week's piece suggested that any futures tickets in pocket better have said team win in Week 17, keep in mind we saw Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Chicago lose their Week 17 games this year.
It will be interesting to see how deep those three organizations go in this year's playoffs.
But let's get right to the Wildcard Weekend stuff:
Since the 2010-11 NFL Playoffs started, Wildcard teams that scored 30 or more points in Week 17 are 6-13 O/U in their Wildcard game
For the second consecutive year, Week 17 went to 'over' bettors with a 10-6 O/U record on Sunday, continuing the 2019 results and bucking the history from all those previous years.
However, what that does do is create plenty of potential for Wildcard Weekend to go back to the low side of the totals, because Wildcard teams that put up 30 or more in Week 17 have cashed 'under' tickets at that 68.4% clip.
Of those 19 instances, three of them had occurrences where both combatants in a WC game were off 30+ point performances – GB/Minnesota in 2012, and Detroit/New Orleans and Atlanta/NYG in 2011 – and the O/U result for those respective WC games came in at 1-2 O/U.
Which Under Wagers do I make?
- Indianapolis at Buffalo
- Tampa Bay at Washington
- Baltimore at Tennessee
- Chicago at New Orleans
The Baltimore/Tennessee game on Sunday afternoon is applicable to that run after both scored 30+ on Sunday, and with how much running we are expected to see from both sides, an argument for the 'under' 54 in that game isn't all that hard to make (providing the defenses stop the run on Sunday).
Remember, these two met in the Divisional round of the playoffs last year when Baltimore was the #1 seed off a bye week against the 6th seeded Titans off their upset win in New England. Tennessee won that game 28-12 as the game stayed a full TD below the 47.5 closing number.
The other teams this could apply to this weekend are Buffalo, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay, and again, based on the opposing offenses for at least the Saints and Buccaneers, finding an 'under' argument to back in those games shouldn't take a lot of work.
Unders in Buffalo games are a completely different story right now with how that team has been operating for the better part of two months now, but you can also never say never in this league as well.
Finally, what may be the most important number for this historical trend is the fact that average points scored in these WC games with at least one team off a 30+ point effort is just 42.3 points per game.
That number is a full FG below any total in the applicable games mentioned this weekend, and if you take out the two outliers on either end of the spectrum – Indy/KC 45-44 game in 2013, and Seattle/Minnesota 10-9 game in 2015 – you get an average of 40.94 points per game.
Cold weather January games and the idea that most WC teams are relatively equal play into those numbers as well, and this year we've got two games going in cold weather cities (Buffalo, Washington). So just because you saw these teams light up the scoreboard at will in Week 17, don't fall into the trap it's a foregone conclusion that those offenses will roll over that momentum and production into Wildcard weekend. History suggests we will see some lower scoring games this weekend.
Also, since the 2010-11 NFL playoffs, at least one Super Bowl participant scored 30 or more points in Week 17 in 7 of the 10 seasons.
On to the Super Bowl participant note now, as 2017, 2014, and 2012 were the only years we got Super Bowls featuring two organizations that didn't score 30 or more in their final regular season game.
This trend isn't limited to Wildcard teams – so keep that in mind – and it means that after Sunday, we've got the Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, and Green Bay Packers all live in that role this year.
In 2019 it was Kansas City who scored 31 in the regular season finale before going all the way, 2018 saw both the Patriots (38 points in Week 17) and Rams (48 points in Week 17) square off in the big game, and the same thing happened in 2016 between the Patriots (35 points in Week 17) and Falcons (38 in Week 17).
2015 it was Carolina going the distance after scoring 38 in Week 17, while 2013 and 2011 saw Denver (34 points in Week 17) and New England (49 points in Week 17) respectively make it to the Super Bowl.
In 2010 it was the Pittsburgh Steelers (41 points in Week 17) make the big game as well.
Interestingly enough, the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs were the only one in the group (outside of 2016 and 2018 when both participants applied) to go on to win the Super Bowl, as scoring 30+ in Week 17 may be good news in terms of getting there, but not necessarily lifting the trophy.
Carolina lost the SB in 2015, as did Denver in 2013, New England in 2011, and Pittsburgh in 2010. Heck, even the two years where both SB participants applied in 2016 and 2018, the two sides that had the higher point totals in Week 17 – Rams and Falcons – went on to lose those Super Bowls as well.
So maybe any futures considerations on the Ravens, Bucs, Saints, Titans, Bills, and Packers should maybe be limited to winning their conference only.
|Wild Card - Week 17 Points Angle (30+ Points)|
Duplicate Results in 2012 and 2011
Since the 2010-11 NFL Playoffs started, wild card teams that scored 40 or more points in Week 17 are 1-3 ATS in their Wildcard game (Omitting the Detroit/New Orleans game in 2011 when both were off 40+ point efforts)
Who could you fade?
- Tampa Bay
Hardly a big sample size over the course of 10 years I know, but it's not like scoring 40 points in the NFL is that common of an occurrence during any week to begin with.
Yet, this year we've got three teams where it does apply, as Tampa Bay (-8.5), Buffalo (-7), and Tennessee (+3.5) would all line up as teams to fade this week.
Again, fading the Titans and backing Baltimore isn't a hard argument to make for a wide number of reasons outside of this historical trend, but it is interesting that the Titans are the home dog in this game.
We haven't seen a home team close as an underdog in this round since the 2015-16 playoffs when we had three of them in Houston (+3) vs KC, Cincinnati (+2) vs Pittsburgh, and Minnesota (+4.5) vs Seattle.
All three of those home dogs lost outright, as Houston lost 30-0, Cincinnati lost 18-16, and Minnesota lost 10-9.
The lone ATS win in this four-game sample did come from the underdog New Orleans Saints though, as they beat Philly 26-24 back in 2013.
Interestingly enough, all three of those games with home underdogs were easy 'under' winners as well, adding another piece of support to the Ravens/Titans 'under' play discussed earlier.
But it's taking the points with Indianapolis and Washington in those other two games that presents a few more headaches for those considering them, because on paper, and the eye test suggests that Tampa and Buffalo's offenses should be able to run those opponents out of town rather easily.
That's generally been the prevailing thought in those past four games though, and we just have to look at last year's Vikings/Saints WC game as the last occurrence.
New Orleans had put up 42 points in Week 17 and then couldn't really find any sort of rhythm in the 26-20 OT loss to the Vikings in the playoffs.
So try not to let too much recency bias from Week 17's results creep into your handicapping this week.
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