Last Updated: 2019-01-07
As far as the consensus, things went about as we expected in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs. The Chargers won outright as an underdog and the Colts did the same. The Cowboys won, but it wasn’t pretty, and getting the best of the number really mattered. Seahawks teasers came through and so did teasers with the Chargers and/or Colts.
The only surprising outcome was the Eagles over the Bears, as Cody Parkey double-doinked on the final field goal attempt after going center cut on his practice kick thanks to Doug Pederson’s well-timed freeze.
We’ve got a new round of games and a much bigger set of numbers as we look ahead to the Divisional Round in this week’s NFL Opening Line Report. Let’s take a look at what we’ve seen so far.
Indianapolis at Kansas City (-5.5, 57) – The Colts got a lot of love going into the game against the Texans and validated a lot of opinions. That love is gone this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City opened a four-point favorite, but the line has ballooned to -6 at Arrowhead Stadium at Pinnacle and BetOnline. There are several shops still hovering in the 5.5-point range, but it does appear that we will be pretty consistently at -6 as the day goes along.
The total on this game has bounced up from 55.5 or 56, as we’re seeing the expectation of points with two strong offenses. The Chiefs really needed the bye week, as Tyreek Hill had been dealing with injuries and the running game had been in shambles since Kareem Hunt was released. Apparently early-week sharp bettors think that the Chiefs are in a much better spot here and it’s hard to blame them for that.
This is a tough spot for public bettors, who love what Andrew Luck has done this season, but would have to go against a Kansas City team that spent the season outscoring people. Points are really sexy in the eyes of most bettors, so the Chiefs are an attractive proposition. On the other hand, the Colts can score them, too. Sharp bettors have spoken, so we’ll wait to see if other sharps come back in on the underdog or if the risk managers have to rely on the public to balance the action.
Dallas at LA Rams (-7, 49.5) – The Rams had a rather lackluster second half of the season, losing to teams like the Saints and Eagles. The last two weeks looked better against the Cardinals and 49ers, but you don’t see teams like that in the playoffs. At first glance, given that the Rams allowed over five yards per carry this season, this line looks a little bit high.
This line hasn’t moved much thus far. Most sportsbooks popped the Rams -7 and -105 on the juice. We’ve seen some juice movements out there, but that’s about it. The total on the game is 49 and hasn’t budged a whole lot either. This will be a big test for the Cowboys defense and there was a lot of discontent and disappointment across NFL media circles with the Brian Schottenheimer game plan for Seattle in last week’s game. You can bet that Sean McVay will have a better one. McVay also knows the Dallas personnel and Jason Garrett very well from his three seasons as the offensive coordinator in Washington.
We’ll have to see which way this line swings. There could be some early-week Dallas money to massage the market and get the line down to 6.5 so that it brings teasers into play and also allows sharp bettors to come in on Wednesday or Thursday with bigger bets below a touchdown.
Had Dallas covered the number last week against Seattle, maybe we would have seen 6 or 6.5, but the optics of that game weren’t a great look, so 7 was the obvious choice for this line.
LA Chargers at New England (-4.5, 47) – For three quarters, the Chargers really suffocated Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. A complacent fourth quarter led to some extremely dicey moments, but the Chargers survived and advanced. This is a terrible spot for them, as they’ll go from playing the early game across the country on Sunday in the Wild Card Round to playing the early game across the country on Sunday in the Divisional Round against the New England Patriots.
We haven’t seen much movement on this line. Most shops opened the Patriots -4.5 and that’s where we sit early Monday morning. This will be a fascinating line to follow. There will be segments of the betting market that implicitly trust Brady and Belichick in the playoffs based on what they’ve done in the past, but this New England team hasn’t felt the same all season long, despite securing a bye.
The Chargers are now 10-1 away from home and 8-3 against the spread on the season with last week’s win and cover in Baltimore. Since 2010, teams that win on the road in the Wild Card Round and head out on the road again in the Divisional Round are 6-17 straight up and 13-10 ATS. The Colts, Chargers, and Eagles are all in that role this weekend.
While those teams are 6-17 straight up since 2010, those teams have lost 13 straight times dating back to the 2013 playoffs. If you’re looking for upsets this weekend from the road teams, be careful.
Philadelphia at New Orleans (-8, 51) – The Eagles won a defensive slugfest against the Bears in the Wild Card Round and that has to instill some confidence going forward. The problem is that the Eagles now face arguably the most complete team in the NFL in the New Orleans Saints. The Saints don’t have the Bears defense, but the Saints also don’t have the Bears offense and that is a big deal this week.
Every shop across the market is sitting higher than a touchdown on this game, with the Saints favored by anywhere from 7.5 to 9. The total on the game is 51 points, which is a substantial adjustment from last week’s game involving the Eagles.
The Eagles could fall victim to the above trend and they also have a chance at being the second-biggest underdog among teams that won on the road the previous week. The Titans were a 13.5-point underdog last year against the Patriots. The previous high was the Chargers against the Broncos in the 2013 playoffs. San Diego covered in a 24-17 loss as an 8.5-point dog.
We haven’t seen much in the way of notable movement for this game as of yet, but I’m sure we’ll see some people looking to ride the magic of Nick Foles. Those people may not be sharp bettors, so we’ll see if we get down to 7 here. This is a higher total, but we’ll also see some Saints teaser money leak into the market to go through 7, 6, 4, and 3. Chiefs/Saints teasers could be quite popular this week. The Rams could also qualify if the line goes to 7.5.
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