Best NFL contrarian bets for wild-card round

Despite winning four Super Bowls, Tom Brady has gone just 11-15 ATS during the playoffs (second-worst record in our database).

7. But many trends profitable during the regular season are losing strategies during the postseason. We hypothesized these top-notch defenses would be underrated while potent offenses would be overrated. Considering that a number of market-setting offshore sportsbooks (including CRIS and Pinnacle) have already dropped the spread to 2.5, we are very confident taking the points and getting the best of a key number.

The pick: Cincinnati +3

These lines are always subject to change, so make sure to check ESPN Chalk’s Live Odds page throughout the week for updated lines and betting trends.

Other playoff factors to consider (stats since 2003)1.

The Bengals have the league’s second-ranked scoring defense, allowing just 17.4 points per game. Whenever the public zigs, we zag.

By examining some of the top historical betting trends and identifying sharp money indicators, we can inform bettors on how they can capitalize on public perception. Despite this one-sided public betting, the spread has not moved since opening on Sunday evening. Pittsburgh (Jan. Taking every underdog on the money line would have resulted in a losing record (48-83) but a profit of plus-19.53 units.


Cincinnati Bengals (+3) vs. There have been only two home underdogs of four points or greater and both of them won straight up: Denver +7.5 vs. Even with this opportunity to take the AFC North champion as a home ‘dog, Cincinnati has received just 34 percent of spread bets at our seven contributing offshore sportsbooks. This is the core of Sports Insights’ contrarian, yet highly profitable, betting strategy. That creates additional opportunity for our contrarian strategies.

With so much parity in the NFL, wiseguys and betting syndicates eagerly take underdogs — especially at inflated prices caused by the increase in public money from recreational bettors.

Wild-card system matchesNote: All lines courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas as of Tuesday evening. But they have gone just 22-24 ATS during the wild-card round. This is a much smaller drop-off than most bettors would assume.

Finally, we triggered two reverse line movement alerts on Cincinnati +3, which indicates sharp money is hammering the Bengals. Besides, the injured Andy Dalton hadn’t covered the spread in four postseason games in his career. 8, 2012) and Seattle +9.5 vs. Teams that made the playoffs in the previous season have gone 34-26 ATS (56.7 percent) when their opponent missed the playoffs the previous season.

6. On the flip side, teams featuring an offense averaging more than 26 points per game have gone just 34-53 ATS (39.1 percent). 8, 2011).

9. As we head into the NFL playoffs, I want to thank our loyal readers for their support this year. Underdogs of at least 4.5 points have gone 41-27 ATS (60.3 percent).

3. Spoiler alert: We were right.

Our analysis found teams featuring defenses allowing fewer than 18 points per game had gone 55-41 against the spread (57.3 percent) since 2003. Experience matters. By taking the unpopular side of the game, opportunistic contrarian bettors are often able to get an extra half-point or more.

This trend intensifies during the playoffs, when sportsbooks take an even higher volume of public money. New Orleans (Jan. For starters, our historical analysis shows underdogs have provided value in divisional games. Our research also found that during the playoffs teams receiving less than 50 percent of spread bets have gone 11-5 ATS in divisional games.

Bettors might be afraid of backing the unproven AJ McCarron given that the 25-year old has started just four games in his short career, but buying on bad news is one of the hallmarks of contrarian betting.

Our research has shown that square bettors tend to place more value on high-powered offenses than stout defenses, and we thought this perception could be exploited.

We started by defining an elite defense as a team allowing fewer than 18 points per game against and an elite offense as a team scoring more than 26 points per game. Underdogs of at least 4.5 points receiving less than 50 percent of spread bets have gone 27-13 ATS (67.5 percent).

4. During the regular season, sportsbooks will typically take more than enough sharp action to balance this flood of public money; however, there is far more public money in play during the playoffs. Underdogs receiving less than 50 percent of spread bets have gone 40-31 ATS (56.3 percent).

2. We look to continue that success with our analysis for wild-card weekend.

For new readers unfamiliar with our strategies, our philosophy is simple: Always fade the public. When we combine these two filters, we create a new betting system with a 68.6 percent win rate.

Why does this work?As we mentioned earlier, square bettors are prone to overreact to recent results and will typically place bets based on instinct. Our system matches have produced a 25-19 against the spread record (56.82 percent) this season after posting a 31-25 ATS record (55.36 percent) in the previous season. Road teams have gone 26-17 ATS (60.5 percent) when the temperature is below freezing.


During the playoffs, the number of bets placed on every game nearly doubles, with much of the action from square bettors. These bettors generally pound high-scoring teams, so oddsmakers will shade their lines to account for this inevitable influx of public money. The familiarity between teams levels the playing field, which disproportionately benefits the team getting points. The Steelers have the league’s fourth-ranked scoring offense, averaging 26.4 points per game. Teams have gone 50-25 ATS (66.7 percent) when their opponent allowed at least 265 passing yards in their previous game.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers

In a rare twist, the Bengals opened as a three-point home underdogs at the Westgate Superbook. These recreational weekend warriors place wagers based on instinct and gut feelings, rather than data and analysis.

Squares overwhelmingly bet the favorite, and oddsmakers adjust by shading their lines and forcing casual bettors to take bad numbers when they play the popular side of a game. That means Cincinnati fits our system, but there are dozens of reasons to like Marvin Lewis’ squad. This has historically created value on underdogs.

Using our Bet Labs software, we discovered underdogs have gone 71-58 ATS (55 percent) during the postseason since 2003. For that reason, we chose not to focus specially on underdogs and instead examine a system based on statistical filters

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