Wild Card Weekend NFL Sports Betting: Picks Against The Spread
Ricky Sanders did a great job running through the SportsGrid model picks earlier in the week with his looks at the best bets for each of the four wild card games but there was no way after a successful regular season of NFL sports betting that I was not going to make official, on-the-record picks for all of the NFL playoff games. Now, before you start getting ready to unload your clip, you do need to be aware that NFL playoff lines are likely the single-most gambled on lines in the world. These markets get pushed from all sides with billions of dollars of actions around the globe so I am not suggesting that the lines are “weak” or “off”, just that there are correct sides.
As always, use this article as a reminder to keep tailing the SportsGrid betting model and #TrustTheProcess.
Davis Mattek NFL Sports Betting Record: 30-21-1 ATS
Week Seventeen NFL Sports Betting Picks
Houston Texans -2.5
If you are a #Trendz bettor, you likely will love to hear what my good friend Rich Hribar said on our SportsGrid NFL Sports Betting podcast (embedded below) that first-time NFL quarterbacks and road teams in the first round have an abysmal straight up record. Josh Allen combines both of those narratives with a negative EPA on the year. The Bills strength this year rests on their defense which is sixth in Football Outsiders DVOA and in Josh Allen’s ability to create plays with his legs. Allen is a good runner; I do not want to take that away from him. However, the Texans are good offensive team and we generally think of the winners of games as being the winner of the offensive battle rather than the defensive one.
Buffalo is the 23rd ranked passing offense by DVOA while Houston is closer to the middle of the pack. Digging into the data for this game, it really is not an appealing contest. Neither team ranks in the top half of DVOA or points scored on offense and Houston is only 12th in the NFL in yards per play on offense. For me, selecting Houston is about a few things. First, is getting it at 2.5 as opposed to 3; that makes it a better bet for the player as opposed to the book. Second, DeShaun Watson is better than Josh Allen and I am ready to wager American dollars on that outcome.
New England Patriots -4.5
The Titans are not winning this game. As I said on the SportsGrid podcast, I think that the money line is a much better bet than the point spread and you can easily throw Patriots -225 into a few other parlays or your other action for the weekend because it is a soft line. Somehow, THE New England Patriots have become a non-public play. The public has decided that Ryan Tannehill, he of the career 7.0 adjusted yards per attempt, 0-6 in Foxboro, is going to be the quarterback that ends the Patriots dynasty and sends them all of packing. Now, is this game to be ugly? Yeah, it is going to be disgusting. New England is a horrible offensive team. They rank in the bottom half of the league in yards per play, expected points added on offense and in offensive DVOA. The 2011 Patriots, these guys are not.
However, the Titans are also not the greatest show on turf Rams either. Tannehill has always been one of the worst sack rate QB’s in the NFL and I don’t expect that to regress or change in eight games with a new team. The Titans have been one team with an over-.500 record who played their starters. THIS is the paper tiger team in the NFL playoffs. I know Derrick Henry is big and fast and AJ Brown is awesome but the straw that stirs the drinks is a lifelong mediocre QB going to make a start on the road in bad weather against a great Patriots defense. Patriots win before collapsing against an actual good team in the next round.
Minnesota Vikings +8
This is the one line where you have to hold your nose, take the plunge and live with uncomfortably betting against the New Orleans Saints at home. Of the four selections, this is the one that I feel worst about because the Saints rate so well in any kind of advanced stat modeling and the Vikings do not. The Vikings are also going to be without their two starting cornerbacks against record-setting Drew Bees but let us look at this as a bigger picture. Minnesota is 10th in offensive DVOA this year, 10th in yards per play on offense and eighth in total points scored. They are a good offensive team and good offensive teams should not be massive road dogs. Now, I have also seen this line at 7 or 7.5 at a few books and I would 0% bet those lines. The eight number is really solid and lets us profit in a one-score game which is what this projects to be from our end on SportsGrid. I am personally betting this at +8 but am not windmilling the selection.
Seattle Seahawks -2.5
The last time these two teams played each other, Philly was actually slightly favored and we all took the Seahawks. Now, that game was gross and ugly, with Seattle winning 17-9 but both of the teams are very different now than they were in that game. The Seahawks have none of their usual running back rotation left and Carson Wentz is directing over 60% of his passes to running backs and tight ends. The Seahawks have a clear edge with skill position players as they still have Tyler Lockett, D.K Metcalf and Jacob Hollister (a more-intriguing-than-you-think athlete and prospect). The Eagles are using former college QB Greg Ward as their primary wide receiver with Dallas Goedert and Boston Scott their most-used players in the passing game over the last two games.
While Seattle often calls plays on offense in a sub-optimal way, they have generally gotten better results on offense this year than Philadelphia and are now without the primary impetus behind calling bad plays without any of their standard RB’s. Seattle is 11th in the NFL in yards per play and Philadelphia is 22nd; however, Seattle is eight in the NFL in yards per play on passing plays and Philadelphia is 26th. So, essentially, when running the plays that matter, the Seahawks get even better and the Eagles get even worse. This game might be a tough watch and Seattle might try to lose with horrible coaching, but they are the correct side.
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