Reverse Line Movement and Fishy NFL Lines for the Divisional Round
NFL Fishy Lines Divisional Weekend
Not all lines that move are fishy. The lines we’re looking at in this article refer to movement in the opposite direction of the majority of bets. Both Saturday games indicate reverse line movement on spreads. As for the Sunday slate, I’ve seen the lines and total shift a little, but not in the opposite direction of the public money.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
The Packers opened as 7-point favorites hosting the Rams. With 82% of bets on Green Bay, this line still moved in Los Angeles’ direction down to Packers -6.5. This doesn’t surprise me too much as Rams Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be playing. Donald suffered a rib injury in last week’s Wild Card game, keeping him out for the second half. The Rams still prevented the Seattle Seahawks from coming back in the game, beating the Hawks 30-20.
Los Angeles has the best defense in the NFL, ranking No. 1 against the pass and No. 3 versus the run. The Packers have faced four top-10 defenses this year, going 2-2 straight up and 2-2 against the spread. In the games against those teams (Saints, Buccaneers, 49ers, and Colts), the common factor was taking the Packers’ run game out of the equation. The most rushing yards a Packers running back had in those four outings was Aaron Jones week three against the Saints going for 69 yards on 16 carries. Although it may seem tough to back Rams quarterback Jared Goff due to his surgically repaired right throwing thumb, the Packers haven’t faced a top-10 defense since the Colts on Nov. 22. The smart play here is likely teasing the Packers down to pick em.
As for this total, it dropped from 46.5 to 45.5, although 76% of bets are on the over. It’s another typical playoff week where the public is only backing overs. The Packers are the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 31.8 points per game. Green Bay is 9-7 over/under this season. As for their opponent, the Rams are 5-12 over/under. Only the New York Giants hit more unders with 13. The Rams rank 20th in points per game, averaging 23.6. The Packers give up about the same, allowing 23.1 ppg scored by opponents. However, in games played at Lambeau Field, the Packers allow an average of seven points less at home than on the road. Green Bay’s defense gives up 19.5 ppg at home but 26.6 ppg on the road.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
Last Sunday, this line opened at Bills -3. It was the first line to really move big as Buffalo became just 1.5-point home favorites in a span of 24 hours. Big money ended up buying back on Buffalo, getting this line back to Bills -2.5. Although just 29% of the bets were on Baltimore, why did the line move so much in their favor?
Both these teams have been on a hot streak. The Ravens have won six straight games while covering seven in a row. As for the Bills, they’ve won seven straight covering in eight of their last nine. The Bills defense is not the same as we remember from last season. Buffalo was a top-five unit in 2019; however, in 2020, they rank 15th in points allowed per game (23.5) and 16th in total yards allowed (359.5). As for the Bills’ run defense, it’s 20th in the league, allowing an average of 122.2 yards per game. In the air, Buffalo has been a little better, ranking 14th, giving up 237.4 per game.
The Ravens are the best rushing offense in the NFL, rushing for an average of 194.5 yards per contest. That’s an average of 33 yards more than the next best rushing offense, the Tennessee Titans. The Bills lost to the Titans as 3-point favorites 42-16 on Oct. 13. Against top-10 rushing offenses this year, the Bills are 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS. One of those games was against the already-eliminated New England Patriots, where the Bills won 38-9. These records also include the Bills losing 32-30 to the Cardinals. However, the Bills were 3-point underdogs, so they covered the spread.
As for the Ravens having the sixth-best defense in the league, that won’t phase the Bills. Buffalo has won all five games against top-10 defenses this season in addition to covering in four out of five games. The only spread against a top-10 defense the Bills didn’t cover was in the wild card game against the Colts last week. Bills won 27-24 but did not cover as 7-point favorites. This is why I think teasing this game to get Baltimore +8.5 is the smarter play.