NFL Betting Guide: Divisional Round
numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets
with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting
on the total, game line, or moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we
use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting on any
given night. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager
relative to what you would normally bet.
For example, if you would usually bet $110 to win $100 on a -110
spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three
times that amount: $330 to win $300.
Using our models as a guide, let’s take a look at the best bets for the Divisional Round.
Browns +10.0: 2-Star Rating out of 5
This game features a spread and total you just don’t see much in the postseason. The over/under is way up at 57.0 points, and the Kansas City Chiefs are favored by 10.0 points. Our algorithm sees this being a high-scoring, comfortable win for KC, but we think both of those lines are a bit much as we project it to be a 29.99-23.13 Chiefs victory.
It’s not going to feel good to bet against Kansas City. I get it. Patrick Mahomes and company could go berserk on a Cleveland Browns defense that our schedule-adjusted metrics rank as the sixth-worst overall D and the fifth-worst pass defense.
But for as amazing as Mahomes is and for as lights out as this offense can be when it’s clicking, the Chiefs haven’t been rolling people lately. Kansas City doesn’t have a double-digit win since Week 8, when they smashed the hapless New York Jets by a 35-9 score. Since then, they’ve played three teams we have as worse squads than the Cleveland Browns — the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers — and they’ve won those games by four, eight and two points, respectively. Kansas City also mustered a mere 17 points at home against an Atlanta Falcons defense that is among the league’s worst in a three-point win in Week 16.
Could the Chiefs flip the switch now that we’re at the time of the year they’ve been waiting for? Absolutely. And that’s why it feels scary to back the Browns and the under. But our model points to those two bets as two of the best wagers of the weekend. We see the Browns covering 59.4% of the time, and we think the under hits 60.7% of the time.
Under 52.0: 2-Star Rating out of 5
With two of the best ever under center, this total is appropriately high, sitting at 52.0 points. But this game is also a clash between two of the league’s best defenses, and our algorithm favors the under. Per our metrics, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in overall defense. Both units are in the top 10 in both pass defense and run D, highlighted by the Saints’ third-ranked pass defense and the Bucs’ second-ranked run defense.
The days of the Saints consistently lighting up the scoreboard, especially in the Superdome, are a thing of the past, and Brees is clearly not the same dude, throwing for only 245.2 yards per game, his worst mark since 2005, which was his final year before coming to New Orleans. Across the last 12 Saints games this season, only two have surpassed 52 total points. In that span, they’ve had seven games with 41 or fewer points.
While the Bucs have been rolling on offense and did rack up 31 points on a solid Washington Football Team defense a week ago, some of Tampa Bay’s late-season offensive tear can be attributed to a friendly schedule that included games against the bad defenses of the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Falcons (twice). Plus, Brady and company put up only 3 and 23 points in their two meetings with the Saints.
We project the final score to be 26.11-23.17 in favor of New Orleans. We think the total goes under 58.3% of the time.