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Wolf's Wagers

NFL Wild Card Round: Midweek Odds Update and Betting Splits

by Jake Wolf
Updated On: January 12, 2022, 6:04 pm ET

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After the first 18-week regular season in NFL history, the playoffs have arrived and Wild Card Weekend features six games over three days. The playoff format changed to give only one bye week per conference, so the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers are the only teams already slated for the divisional round. Four of the six Wild Card matchups are listed with spreads of less than a touchdown, and there should be some competitive games in a win-or-go-home environment. I spoke to PointsBet Sportsbook analyst Michael Korn to see the early betting splits for the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.

TeamOpenCurrentBet Count %Handle %
     
Las Vegas Raiders    
Cincinnati Bengals-6-5.55462
     
     
New England Patriots   68
Buffalo Bills-4-458 
     
Philadelphia Eagles   86
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-8.5-8.561 
     
San Francisco 49ers    
Dallas Cowboys-3-35853
     
Pittsburgh Steelers   62
Kansas City Chiefs-12.5-12.555 
     
Arizona Cardinals  5566
Los Angeles Rams-4-4  

 

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will make his first career playoff start in the first game of this year's postseason Saturday afternoon against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals took down the Raiders in this season's only matchup between these teams with a convincing double-digit victory in Week 10, but the line dropped from the opener of Cincinnati -6 to -5.5 at PointsBet Sportsbook. It's important to look at more than one matchup to handicap this game, since plenty has changed for both squads since then.

"You definitely have to consider the last game they played but these are two different teams from two months ago after going through the second half of the season," Korn said.

This is the only Wild Card game with a line move off the opener so far at PointsBet Sportsbook, despite a higher liability on the Bengals.  Some books opened at 6.5 but the consensus spread is now down to Bengals -5.5.

"I think the sharper side is the Raiders," Korn said. "It's moving in the Raiders' direction and the line should either stay around that 5.5 or get down towards 4.5."

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The late game on Saturday is another rematch from the regular season as the Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots. These teams split the season series and the Bills finished the year with an AFC East title.

"If we were to move it to BUF -3.5 there would be some buyback on BUF so that's one that could stick around 4," Korn said. "I don't see this moving more than half a point."

Both AFC East teams have received plenty of action in futures markets this season. The Bills lead all AFC teams in bets taken to win the conference at PointsBet Sportsbook, with the Patriots carrying the highest liability for the book in that market. When looking at Super Bowl odds, Buffalo is the only AFC team in the top five for Super Bowl bet count and New England is the only AFC team in the top five for Super Bowl handle. This says as much about the disparity between the conferences as it does about these teams, since bettors seem to be confident in an NFC team taking home the championship while being skeptical of the conference's top two seeds, Tennessee and Kansas City.

AFC Championship Odds

 

In the exact Super Bowl matchup market, one potential outcome stands far above the rest in terms of bet count and liability. PointsBet Sportsbook has an overwhelming liability on a Buccaneers vs. Patriots Super Bowl matchup, currently listed at +5000 after getting as high as +8000. That would be a dream scenario for fans hoping to see the Brady/Belichick matchup on the biggest stage imaginable, but PointsBet will be rooting against that matchup.

Super Bowl Matchup Odds

 

Brady will kick off Sunday's slate with a matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles in Tampa Bay. This game features the biggest early-week splits of the Wild Card round with 61% of bettors backing the Buccaneers but 86% of the handle on the Eagles. The spread has held steady at 8.5 and while Korn noted that playoff lines are more stable than usual, this could be a game that moves towards Philly.

"There's some sharp action on the Eagles," Korn said. "It could be some sharp and some public but that's a pretty wide split there so I'd say that's notable."

The only Wild Card game listed with a spread of a field goal or less is the Dallas Cowboys hosting the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams finished the season with big victories over division rivals, and the 49ers are a popular upset pick entering this week. The spread is still listed at the opener of Cowboys -3 but the 49ers have received plenty of moneyline support with bettors looking for the plus-money odds rather than the safer spread of +3 at -110. Over 54% of moneyline bets came in on San Francisco and the moneyline handle is nearly split despite Dallas being listed with significant juice, an indicator that bettors like the 49ers to win this matchup outright.

The final game on Sunday is the sole matchup with a double-digit favorite in the Wild Card round. The Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked into the playoffs after the Raiders hit a game-winning field goal on Sunday night, so Ben Roethlisberger's career will continue for at least one game. Pittsburgh will have a tough draw to open the playoffs as the team goes on the road to face the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs picked up a 36-10 home win over Pittsburgh in Week 16 and played that game without tight end Travis Kelce, who will be back for this matchup.

"That is a big number for a Chiefs team that has ups and downs throughout the season, even though they've looked good as of late," Korn said. "I think that gets closer to 10 than it does 14 and if it does move I can see it closing somewhere around 11.5 or 11"

Even with a blowout win against the Steelers in the same stadium only three weeks ago, there's no guarantee of a similar outcome. Kansas City went just 6-8 ATS when favored by at least 10 points over the last three seasons, so this could be too large of a spread for an elimination game. One positive indicator for the Chiefs is that double-digit playoff favorites went 10-3 ATS in the playoffs since 2000.

Double-Digit Playoff Favorites

 

Monday features one matchup between two NFC West teams that each lost some momentum after defeats to end the regular season. Teams entering the playoffs following a straight up loss went just 11-20 ATS and 16-15 straight up, which applies to the Rams, Cardinals, Patriots and Eagles for this round. The Cardinals had a chance to clinch the NFC West after the Rams lost to San Francisco but Arizona couldn't get the job done in an eight point loss to Seattle. These NFC West foes split the season series and the line for this rubber match has held steady at Rams -4 -115.

No team received more Super Bowl bets at PointsBet Sportsbook than the Rams and LA also took in the second-highest handle on championship odds. The Rams are second in NFC Championship bets taken but PointsBet has way more liability on Green Bay to win the conference, with nearly double the money wagered on LA for this market.

NFC Championship Odds

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Jake Wolf

Jake Wolf is covering basketball for NBC Sports Edge and has worked for FNTSY Sports Network and YES Network. Follow him on Twitter @jakewolf13 for betting content and basketball analysis.