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4 Essential NFL Playoff Betting Trends For Expanded Field

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 4 mins

4 Essential NFL Playoff Betting Trends For Expanded Field

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A unique 2020 NFL regular season is done. Bring on a brand-new NFL Playoffs format, featuring a 14-field for the first time.

Here are four essential NFL betting trends every sports bettor should know before placing their own wagers.

1. NFL Betting Spread Winners

The remaining 14 teams have reason to consider the unique 2020 NFL season a success on the field. When it comes to playing against the spread, however, not all teams met the expectations of oddsmakers.

Against the spread, four playoff teams take the cake and a few fell short. Five teams went 11-5 or 10-6 ATS to top the chart. Four of them are in the playoffs: The Bills (11-5), Steelers (10-6), Ravens (10-6) and Packers (10-6). The Dolphins, who barely missed, were also 11-5 ATS.

The Browns were the worst ATS bet among playoff teams, going 6-10. Only the Cowboys (5-11) were a less successful bet overall. The Chiefs and Titans each went 7-9 ATS.

CHECK OUT: Complete Wild-Card Weekend Betting Guide

2. Losing Record Does Not Equal Pushover

4 Essential NFL Playoff Betting Trends For Expanded Field 1

Only two teams with losing records had advanced to the NFL Playoffs following a 16-game regular season before now. That number is now three, with Washington (7-9) representing the NFC East.

Washington is a sizeable underdog in the latest NFL odds in its home game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round. But history suggests that the sub-.500 entrant won’t be a pushover.

The two previous sub-.500 qualifiers won their wild-card game. The 2010 Seahawks (7-9) took down the 11-5 Saints 41-36 in a shootout, while the 2015 Panthers (7-8-1) downed the 11-5 Cardinals 27-16.

Washington is certainly a better team now than it was in Week 1. It enters the playoffs winners of six of eight, and those two defeats were without QB Alex Smith.

CHECK OUT: The Latest Super Bowl Odds From Top Online Sportsbooks

3. Pass Defense Wins Championships

4 Essential NFL Playoff Betting Trends For Expanded Field 2

Offense, especially through the air, is the way to wins and playoff berths. But getting to the Super Bowl and winning it entails stopping the pass most of all. The past eight Super Bowl champions have all ranked in the top 10 of opponent QB rating. Six of those eight ranked seventh or better. If you believe in trends, this is a good one to consider.

Here are the teams worth considering based upon it:

Best Defenses vs Opposing Quarterbacks

Rank, Team Opp. QB Rating
1. Steelers 76.7
2. Rams 80.4
3. Washington 81.4
4. Saints83.3
5. Bills86.9
7. Ravens87.2
10. Chiefs89.4

Here are teams that could be in for heartbreak if the trend continues:

Worst Defenses vs Opposing Quarterbacks

Rank, Team Opp. QB Rating
11. Seahawks90.2
12. Colts90.5
13. Packers91.1
18. Buccaneers94.3
19. Browns94.8
20. Bears94.9
24. Titans97.5

If trends matter, consider the Packers were 27th and Seahawks were 24th in QB Rating allowed at the midway point of the season. Each has made considerable strides. The same goes for the Bills (18th) and Saints (15th). The Bears and Buccaneers were in the top 10 back then but have dropped considerably.

4. Homefield Disadvantage

In most NFL seasons, home teams win between 55%-60% of the time. But 2020 was a unique year, and home success in mostly empty stadiums did not equate to any advantage whatsoever.

Home teams, in fact, went 127-128-1 on the season. Yes, road teams had more wins than the hosts.

Home teams against the spread fared nearly the same, going 123-125-8. The most advantageous split was for home underdogs, who finished 54-49-4, a win rate of 52.4% – the exact number to break even against -110 odds.

About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.