This article is designed to get you thinking about the weekend betting lines. We’ll review each game, check in with some relevant stats around each game, and especially take note of any inefficiencies to help guide your wallet. Later this week, check back for injury updates that affect betting odds, best bets, and prop bets we like for the weekend. All lines are from Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas and are current at the time of publication.
If defense was the theme of the wild card round, offense is front and center for the divisional round games. Six of the eight playoff teams are the top six scoring NFL teams of the 2018 regular season (Chargers tie with Pittsburgh and Seattle for sixth with 26.8 points per game). Defense isn’t completely out of the picture however, as we saw a surprisingly effective Colts defense in the Wild Card win over Houston while the Chargers D/ST played a big role in their win over Baltimore. Dallas, New England and the Chargers allow just over 20 points per regular season game, and Indianapolis also makes the top 10 in that category. In contrast to last week, where 47 points was the highest opening point total, this week it’s the lowest. Let’s have a look…
Indianapolis at Kansas City: Total 57 points, Chiefs -5.5
Indianapolis pulled off the surprising road win over Houston, making the Texans defense look worse than it is in the process. That gets them to 5-4 on the road this season, with 10 of their last 11 games being wins. They’ve been favored in all but two of them (both Houston, both wins) as they rank fifth in points per game and sixth in passing yards per game. Andrew Luck is the second highest scoring QB with 39 passing touchdowns in the regular season.
The Colts have nine wins against the spread and nine of their games have hit the under, including seven of the last 11 games. They are 4-4 against the spread as underdogs.
The well-rested, top-seeded Chiefs are 7-1 at home this season (only home loss was to the Chargers by one point in Week 14). They have nine wins against the spread, six losses and a push. They’ve hit the over in 10 games, including five of the last six. Led by Patrick Mahomes, who led the league in total touchdowns (52), the Chiefs are the league’s best offense in points per game, and third in passing yards per game. On the flip side, the Chiefs defense allows the second-most passing yards per game and ninth-most points per game. They are 6-6 against the spread as favorites.
The Divisional playoffs will kick off with a good one, that’s for sure. I’m surprised the Chiefs aren’t bigger favorites, but it’s true that the Colts defense hasn’t been appreciably worse on the road this year. The problem is that it’s very hard to get to Mahomes and that is a major source of the Chiefs success. Both the game total and the spread have increased by 1 point since the line opened.
Early bet: Chiefs -5.5 and the over
Dallas at LA Rams: Total 49.5 points, Rams -7
Dallas won in impressive fashion at home over the Seahawks, but face a much more difficult path to victory this weekend. They are just 3-5 on the road this season. They have 10 games hitting the over, including Wild Card weekend and five of the last six, and are 9-7-1 against the spread. The team is well-balanced; Dak Prescott has 28 total touchdowns (six rushing) while Ezekiel Elliott has led them to the 10th-most rushing yards per game. The defense allows the sixth-fewest points per game and the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game.
The Rams have dominated in LA; they are 7-1 at home, losing only to the pesky Philadelphia Eagles. They are 7-7-2 against the spread with eight over and eight under, so Vegas has this team’s number, as they say. 11 of their games carried a total of 50 points or more! The Rams, too, are expectedly well-balanced. Jared Goff had 34 total touchdowns with the fifth-most passing yards per game in the regular season. Todd Gurley single handedly led the Rams to the third-most rushing yards per game and helped lead his team to the second-most points per game.
The over has won in the last four games in which the Rams were a home favorite and in their last four Divisional Round playoff games. The point total has already risen 0.5 points since the open but I think the Cowboys’ defense will help keep them close this weekend.
Early bet: Dallas +7 and the over
LA Chargers at New England: Total 46 points, Patriots -4
The Chargers made the necessary adjustments, as I expected, and dominated an inexperienced Ravens offense in Round 1. In the regular season, their defense shaped up to allow the eighth-fewest points per game. They are 10-7 against the spread with nine of their 17 games hitting the under, including the last three. The defense was critical in the Wild Card round, but Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense had a great season too; Rivers had 32 touchdowns, ranking 10th in passing yards per game, and Melvin Gordon helped the team rank sixth in points per game with 14 total touchdowns in 12 games played. Perhaps the most interesting stat is the Chargers’ road record of 8-1 this season.
There is no team more experienced at home playoff games than the Patriots. They were 8-0 at home in the regular 2018 season and their post-season record at home is a stunning 18-3. In the last 15 years they’ve missed the playoffs once and had to play in only 3 Wild Card games (2009 was the last time). They are 9-7 against the spread and with many of their games carrying point totals over 50 this season, they hit the under in 10 of them (eight of the last nine). The under also came in the last four times the Patriots were home favorites. The 2018 New England offense was still efficient, however, ranking eighth in passing yards per game, fifth in rushing yards per game and fourth in points per game.
As much as I like the Chargers, it’s hard to bet against NE at home in this position. Both the point total and the spread have dropped a bit since opening. Historically, the over has hit in the Pats last nine Divisional round games, but this season has been different for the Patriots, as noted above.
Early bet: Patriots -4 and the under
Philadelphia at New Orleans: Total 51, Saints -8
Philly is starting this post-season much like they started their epic 2017 run to the Superbowl victory…as road underdogs with some sneaky quality their opponents can’t quite grasp, prepare for, or prevent. They are 5-4 on the road this season, winning their last four games despite facing three solid defenses (Houston, LA Rams, and Chicago). They are 7-9-1 against the spread, with 10 games hitting the under. Nick Foles has the passing game clicking, and the Eagles ranked seventh in passing yards per game this regular season. They have a gaggle of running backs, but still ranked just 28th in rushing yards per game. On the defensive side, they are a classic funnel defense, allowing the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game, and the third most passing yards per game.
The Saints started and finished the season with home losses, but were perfect in New Orleans in between (and we can’t really count Week 16 since starters were rested), including a monster 48-7 win over Philadelphia in Week 10. All 15 of their (real) regular season games carried point totals of 49.5 or greater, and they went 7-9 over-under. They were an impressive 10-5 against the spread and were favored in 12 of their 15 “real” games. Like Philly, the Saints funnel to the pass game. Their defense allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game, while giving up the fourth-most passing yards. With Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara teaming up to yield the third-most points per game, it’s no wonder they saw all the high totals.
The Saints are 0-4 against the spread in their last four playoff games as a favorite and the over has hit in their last seven games as a playoff favorite. Meanwhile, those rogue Eagles are 5-0 against the spread as underdogs in January.
Early bet: Eagles +8 and the over
Source Article from http://rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/85502/554/early-lines-look-divisional