Davis Mattek’s NFL Sports Betting Picks For Divisional Weekend
Last week was a very successful NFL sports betting week for those of you who have decided to read this column (and I appreciate all of you that do), particularly if you were able to bet Houston -2.5 instead of -3. I’ll be an honest tout and admit that I actually bet Houston early in the week, so I got the horrible -3 line instead of the much more equitable -2.5 line. This is just another lesson that all of us should know by now: bet the best number, even if that number is only off by half of a point.
This weekend’s slate of games is more bettable and favorable than last weeks’ at least in the way that I value these teams. There really isn’t an analogous team to the Patriots in the sense of not actually being good but being favored due to “mystique” though I suppose one could argue that the Packers are pretty much paper tigers (and I will do so below the line).
As always, use this article as a reminder to keep tailing the SportsGrid betting model and #TrustTheProcess.
Davis Mattek NFL Sports Betting Record: 33-22-1 ATS
Divisional Round NFL Sports Betting Picks
Minnesota Vikings +7
It seemed unfathomable to most of the betting public that any team would be able to come into the Superdome and handle the New Orleans Saints passing offense. That is exactly what Minnesota did last week against the Saints though they were aided by really terrible clock management from New Orleans at the end. Minnesota is still a top-10 DVOA team that is not getting any respect in betting markets due to being on the road and a large amount of public bias against Kirk Cousins. Cousins actually has essentially the same QBR as Jimmy G though he doesn’t have quite as good of a defense backing him up. At the very least, YPA/QBR/Passer rating makes Jimmy and Kirk the same tier of QB and if you believe that the QB’s are close and that the coaches are close (we do), then seven points are just a bit too high of a line. At 6.5, I would lean the 49ers side so this game is pretty much a small unit play as the 49ers are the better team but the line is just a bit oversized.
Baltimore Ravens -10
The Titans have been a nice story. They scored 14 points on the road against New England and that was enough for them to win a playoff game. Ryan Tannehill threw for 72 yards passing and the offense scored 0 points in the second half. That is not going to cut it against Baltimore. The Ravens are the best offense in football (no one scored more points than Baltimore), no team calls plays and goes for it on fourth down in a more game theory-optimal way than the Baltimore Ravens and this is all topped off by a defense that was top-five in the NFL in yards per play allowed over the second half of the season. Baltimore is just a flat better team than Tennessee.
Now, are they 10 points better? They are, but you always find yourself in a risky spot laying double-digit points in an NFL playoff game. The Ravens will likely stay more aggressive than most teams late but a certain point, they will go vanilla in the fourth quarter while the Titans finally start passing. I have already purchased a Ravens -9.5 ticket but feel confident with -10 as well. The better team is going to win this game and given how absurdly efficient the Ravens have been all season, you will be getting your money in good.
Kansas City Chiefs -10
The Chiefs are: second in the NFL in yards per play, fifth in the NFL in total points scored, second in the NFL in net adjusted yards per attempt passing, and third in the NFL in expected points added on offense. They are also a top-10 passing defense by DVOA and have a defensive line that underperformed in terms of total sack rate in the regular season but has personnel we would expect to improve on that on a long enough timeline. The Texans are a good (not great) offense that ranked 13th in yards per play on offense. The defense is actually just #bad (26th in pass defense DVOA) and would not be playing this game against Kansas City if the Bills had simply performed as a league-average team in the second-half against the Bills. Just like the Ravens game, you will probably be sweating the points because 10 points is a massive in the NFL but we are exclusively wagering on good teams this weekend, my friends.
Seattle Seahawks +4
Seattle is definitely a fake sharp’s favorite team. They honestly suck so bad at the game theory elements of football (using play-action, passing more than running, using the proper personnel) that I feel like it is a minor miracle when they actually win games. However, they do have one of the three or four best players in the entire sport and that player plays at the position that matters more than any other position in the history of sports. Green Bay, on the other hand, has a player who USED to be the very best at his position but has now seen five straight years under his MVP-baseline and presided over an offense that ranked 17th in yards per play and scored the 15th most points in the NFL. The Packers are not the team that the betting public thinks they are and as a result, we are going to wager on Russell Wilson one more time.
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