It was not exactly the most exciting weekend of football, but a double-doink on a potential game-winning field goal in the final game of the round has a way of changing perception. While that missed kick is certainly the story of the weekend, it actually had no effect on the betting results of that game. The same is not true of the finish in Dallas on Saturday night – more on that later.
As Rich Hribar noted in the Wild Card betting preview, the first weekend of the NFL playoffs heavily leans toward the under, and that remained the case this year. The under hit in three of the four contests despite two of those games closing in the low 40s and the other game was headed for the under before a late touchdown. Unders are now 27-17 (61.4 percent) in the Wild Card round since 2008.
Home teams did not fare as well, going 1-3 straight up and 0-4 against the spread based on where the Cowboys line closed. At best, betting home favorites would have resulted in three losses and a push. It is the second season in a row home teams have failed to record a win against the spread on the first weekend of the playoffs after they went 22-15-3 from 2007-16. Interestingly, home teams have struggled a bit against the spread in the Divisional Round over the last decade, but they bounced back for a 2-1-1 showing after going winless in the Wild Card round last season.
First Playoff Start
Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, and Mitchell Trubisky were bounced from the playoffs despite their teams being home favorites, but that probably should not be a big surprise. Since 2013, teams with quarterbacks making their first career playoff start are 4-15 straight up and 5-14 against the spread. Two of those straight up wins came in games against other quarterbacks making their first career playoff start.
Patrick Mahomes is the only first-time playoff quarterback left to debut this season. To make it worse for him, no rookie or sophomore quarterback has won their first playoff start since Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson back in 2012, and Wilson was going up against fellow rookie Robert Griffin III in that matchup. Teams with rookies and sophomores who are making their first playoff start are 0-10 since then. The Chiefs opened as a 5.5-point home favorite over the Colts.
There is not always a devastating beat to put in this section, but the Seahawks delivered a whopper of one on Sunday night. Down by 10 with a little over two minutes left, Seattle quickly drove down the field with the help of a 53-yard catch by Tyler Lockett to score a touchdown, putting a game which had no business going over the total over the total.
That would have been enough to call it a mildly bad beat, but what happened next was even more infuriating for anyone on the Cowboys’ side. With Sebastian Janikowski injured, the Seahawks were forced to go for two in a situation in which they almost certainly would have kicked the extra point if Seabass were healthy. They converted that try, giving them the cover in a game which closed with the Cowboys as 2.5-point favorites.
The line was two at times during the week, but even people holding those tickets had to feel hard done by a push in a game which seemed like a lock just a couple of minutes before. Luckily, Cody Parkey’s double-doink did not change the betting outcome of that game, and the rest of the week was pretty clean with road underdogs winning outright in the other three games.
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