2019 NFL Playoff Simulations And Betting Angles
Our passions here at RotoExperts and SportsGrid is data-driven analysis. When I get a chance to use full NFL Playoff Simulations to fuel my betting action, you can bet that I am going to take advantage of that. While not every bet you make needs to be fed to you from a supercomputer, it is always helpful to have some advanced mathematical calculations backing up your action. Similar to many of our preseason articles on betting props and win totals for all 32 NFL teams, Arturo Galletti of SportsGrid has used a propriety algorithm and ELO-based calculations to simulate the 2019 NFL playoffs. We are going to take a look at these playoff simulations and recommend a few potentially profitable wagers for the 2019-20 season.
Full Playoff Simulations
Positive Value Bets From The Sims
New Orleans Saints To Win SB +500 And NFC +240
You do not have to go very far to see what our simulations think of the Green Bay Packers. Despite earning a first-round bye, the Saints are favored over them both in the conference and to win the Super Bowl. The Packers went 13-3 in the regular season but are middle of the road in DVOA, yards per play gained on offense and yards per play allowed on defense. They ran incredibly hot in one-score games (Lions twice, Washington, Carolina, Kansas City, and the Week Two Minnesota game all could have been flipped) and are really just a middling team. Now, having a bye week does change the calculus because anything can happen in one game. The Saints could lose to the Vikings…
…but it isn’t very likely. In fact, our sims show that it is essentially never happening in a rational timeline. Therefore, because the Packers are not a significant opponent and we would expect the Saints to beat the Packers at a really heavy clip, the Saints become the best NFC bet. Their odds are much deeper than they would be if they were able to be the #2 seed (and we can interpret from these numbers that they would be favored over the 49ers) so presuming that the Saints are able to take care of Minnesota at home, these two bets are super +EV. After beating both Minnesota and Green Bay (the most likely scenario), these Saints numbers are going to be cut in half at best but likely reduced even further than that. They are stunningly good bets.
Philadelphia Eagles +1800 To Win NFC
I am not any keener on betting the Eagles right now than you are but this is a good number for a few reasons. The first is that it doesn’t really account for the fact that this is a home game; now, granted, home field has not been a real factor in the outcomes of games in 2019 but the last 50+ years of professional sports tells us that playing at home matters for a variety of reasons and when the margins are this thin, it is at least comforting to know Philly will play one home game. While the Seahawks had a better record than the Eagles, they were the luckiest team in the NFL in one-score games and have a coaching philosophy that someone who was being kind would call Dinosaurian.
This is not a bet that I would suggest even placing a whole unit on because even if our odds suggest it is better than 18/1, we still think it only occurs once in every 14.5 times that this NFL playoff is simulated. The odds would certainly be better than if the Eagles went to go play in New Orleans or San Francisco than 18/1 but you probably aren’t going to be chomping at the bit to bet the Eagles at +400 in that game. Probably the best way I would be thinking about this wager is: Carson Wentz is not a bad NFL QB (in fact he is probably good) and the Eagles coaching staff is at the very least a competent one. A competent NFL team should probably not be +1800 to win three games in a row.
Baltimore Ravens +225 To Win SB And -120 To Win AFC
The Baltimore Ravens are the best team in football. There is consensus in EPA, DVOA, yards per play and success rate. They really struggled in only one game (the blowout loss to the Cleveland Browns) and were the superior team when they played the vaunted New England Patriots. They had over 400 total yards of offense in over half of their games, scored 50 more points than any other team in the NFL in the regular season (while forfeiting their final game with RG3), lead the NFL in expected points on offense but ALSO finished fifth in the NFL in expected points added on defense. They have the league MVP, an elite defense and are the only team in the NFL truly calling plays in a game theory optimal way.
Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs are a legitimate concern. No, the New England Patriots aren’t. The Patriots do not have enough good players to handle a team like the Ravens who are actually prepared and coached well. If the Ravens had a bad coach, sure, the Patriots could overwhelm them with preparation and intensity. All the available data we have suggests that the Ravens are the best team in the NFL and that with home field advantage, they should be favored over the Kansas City Chiefs. Personally, I am only betting the Ravens to win the SB and not the AFC but there is no argument it is a good number.