As Wildcard Weekend creeps closer and closer, we as fans gear up for yet another NFL Playoff roller coaster! This is peak season for sports gambling action. More plays are transacted than any other time of the year. This should come as no surprise considering that the NFL is the most popular and profitable sport in the United States. With so much attention and action being placed on each playoff game, it naturally creates very sharp lines. Side note: Super Bowl point spreads are said to be the sharpest lines above all others. It is worth mentioning that sharp lines are more difficult to uncover advantageous handicapping edges. Now you can really laugh at someone when they tell you that X playoff match-up is an absolute “lock.” In my opinion, the only place where these sacred “locks” exists are on NCAAB Saturday slates when Howard is facing off against Bethune-Cookman in a MEAC showdown. Get the idea? With that being said, just because it is more difficult (a lot more difficult) to discover edges in the NFL Playoffs, does not mean that we completely abandon our research and rigorous statistical digging. When looking at your NFL Playoff match-ups, some key factors that many betters neglect, yet are worth keeping in mind may include a teams’ depth at each position, and their regular season strength of schedule. These playoff games are a war of attrition; plain and simple. Hence, each team must be deep up and down their line-ups and must have been battle tested during the regular season with a significant sample size of their possible playoff opponent(s).
HISTORICAL TRENDS BY EACH MATCH-UP (Note: It is very difficult to compile data that offers you a significant edge. Call it, “Every little bit helps.” Or, “Better to be safe than sorry.”)
BILLS @ TEXANS (-2.5)
Record versus playoff teams… Bills (1-4) Texans (3-3)
Strength of schedule (SOS)… Bills (30th) Texans (6th)
My Pick: TEXANS – JJ Watt finally returns, period.
TITANS @ PATRIOTS (-5)
Record versus playoff teams… Titans (2-3) Patriots (3-3)
SOS… Titans (29th) Patriots (32nd – WORST)
My Pick: TITANS – Titans are playing well down the stretch, the Patriots are not. Give me the points.
VIKINGS @ SAINTS (-8)
Record versus playoff teams… Vikings (1-4) Saints (3-1)
SOS… Vikings (20th) Saints (22nd)
My Pick: SAINTS – Cousins sucks on prime-time spotlights and the Saints have a slight motivational edge after the “no-call” pass interference call last year in the NFC Championship game against the Rams.
SEAHAWKS @ EAGLES (+2)
Record versus playoff teams… Seahawks (3-3) Eagles (2-3)
SOS… Seahawks (2nd) Eagles (27th)
My Pick: SEAHAWKS – Eagles are pretty banged-up as a whole. Not to mention, the Eagles played a far easier schedule and managed to squeeze out a very mediocre 9-7 regular season record.