The NFL divisional playoffs are upon us with four games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Here’s everything you need to know while you’re making your against-the-spread picks this weekend, whether if you’re in Las Vegas or making friendly, non-monetary-based, totally legal wagers with your co-workers. Point spreads taken Thursday from the consensus odds at Vegas Insider. Home teams listed first, and weather forecasts taken Thursday (so things can change before the weekend).
First, an overarching trend.
And now, to the games!
New England (-7) vs. Baltimore
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. EST
Weather: Clear, mid teens.
The Ravens are 5-0 ATS in their last five playoff road games and 6-0 ATS in their last six playoff games overall. The Patriots, meanwhile, are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 playoff games and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home playoff games. New England is also 0-3 ATS in its last three playoff games against Baltimore (2012 AFC championship, 2011 AFC championship, 2009 wild-card round).
Seattle (-11) vs. Carolina
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST
Weather: Mostly cloudy, mid 40s.
Scared to back Seattle with that big number? Maybe you shouldn’t be.
Panthers are 6th team since merger to win playoff game after .500 or worse reg ssn; other 5 lost divisional-round games by double digits— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2015
But as Marcus NiNitto of the Sporting News points out, there have been six divisional playoff games featuring double-digit spreads since 2005, and the underdog has covered in four of them, winning outright in three.
The Panthers have played the Seahawks in each of the past three seasons, each time in Charlotte. In 28 offensive drives over those three games, Carolina’s offense has scored exactly one touchdown.
Other trends of note: The Panthers are 5-1 ATS in their last six road playoff games but just 1-4 ATS in their last five road games vs. a team with a winning home record and just 1-4 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win. The Seahawks are 4-1 in their last five playoff games.
Green Bay (-6) vs. Dallas
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. EST
Weather: Partly cloudy, high teens.
The Cowboys are 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall. The Packers are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games vs. a team with a winning road record and 22-8-1 ATS in their last 31 games against a team with a winning record. But are the sharps coming in on the road underdog? According to the stats at SportsInsights.com, nearly 60 percent of the spread bets are on the Packers (always a big public-bettor favorite), but the line has dropped from Green Bay -6.5 to Green Bay -6, the opposite of what one would expect with such a heavily backed favorite.
Denver (-7) vs. Indianapolis
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. EST
Weather: Mostly cloudy, around 40.
Per SportsInsights.com, Broncos QB Peyton Manning is just 10-10 ATS over his last 20 postseason games, and Denver is just 1-4 ATS over its last five playoff games. And while the Colts went 10-5-1 ATS in the regular season, they are just 1-4-1 ATS over their past six games against a team with a winning record (the lone win coming last week against the Bengals in the first round).