NFL Divisional Playoff Betting Info

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by - 1/9/2009 4:55 PM Share

The NFL postseason tournament is down to the "Elite Eight" if you will, and only the team that wins three more games from here on out will emerge with the title. The next set of games, the Divisional Playoff Round, gives us our first look at the top seeds since the regular season ended, as they had the luxury of bye week in the Wildcard Round. Does this vacation give them any benefit when it comes to winning or covering the pointspread? Does being a favorite or underdog matter? Do the teams' key stats provide any indication as to who will advance? I'm here to look at all those questions as I analyze the recent history of the NFL Divisional Playoff Round.

Like last week's wildcard analysis, I'll be looking at past pointspreads and totals, home/road dichotomy, and giving an update on the statistics of teams heading into their playoff games, and the numbers generated in the actual games. At the end, I've again added a handy chart of past Divisional Playoff games for you to use to uncover anything else you deem noteworthy.

General Divisional Playoff Round Trends


Although the home and road teams split the four wildcard games of a year ago, the hosts were only able to beat the Vegas number in one the games, that being Green Bay over Seattle. Those results extended what has now become a significant run of 9-1 ATS dominance by the road team in the Divisional Round. Of this year's home teams, Carolina, NY Giants, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee, only the Steelers have hosted a Divisional Round game in the last five years.

  • Home teams have won 47 of the 64 Divisional Round playoff games since '93. The ATS results are exactly split 31-31-2.
  • Road teams have been the hot bet of late, on runs of 9-1 ATS the L10 Divisional Round playoff games and 14-6 ATS in the L20.
  • Of the last 12 Divisional Round playoff games with pointspreads in the competitive +3 to -3 range, home teams are just 7-5 SU & 5-6-1 ATS.
  • Double-digit Divisional Round favorites own a low 10-5 SU & 7-7-1 ATS record since '93, and are just 1-2 SU & 0-3 ATS over the last three seasons.
  • The higher the pointspread, the better the chance for a high scoring game in the Divisional Round. In games with a favorite line of -6.5 or more, the OVER is 24-13.
  • #1 Seeds in Divisional Round playoff games are 7-3 SU since '04, but just 2-8 ATS. AFC #1's have lost five straight games ATS. UNDER the total is on a 9-2-1 run in #1 seeded games.
  • Since the '00 season, there have been seven occasions where one team has gone into the playoffs with the league's best record. That team is 3-4 SU & 1-6 ATS in the Divisional Round. This year that team is Tennessee.
  • #2 Seeds have split their last 10 games outright and are 4-6 ATS. OVER is the more common total occurrence in those contests, 7-3.
  • The top two seeded AFC teams have been more prone to upsets lately than their NFC counterparts. Since '04, AFC Divisional Round hosts are 5-5 SU & 2-8 ATS. Those from the NFC are 7-3 SU & 4-6 ATS.
  • The last four teams to pull an upset in the Wildcard Round own a 3-1 SU & 4-0 ATS record in the Divisional Round.
  • As strange as it sounds, the home teams in the Divisional Round with 12 wins or less are upset less often than those with 13 wins or more. Those with 12 wins or less are 25-5 SU & 16-13-1 ATS since '93, compared to 22-12 SU & 15-18-1 ATS for 13+ win clubs.
  • Eleven regular season wins seems to be the magic number for success by road teams in the Divisional Round. They are 14-13 SU & 17-10 ATS since ‘93. Those teams that won 10 or less games in the regular season but won their wildcard game are just 3-34 SU & 14-21-2 ATS in that same span.
  • The more extreme the posted total, the better the chance of the Divisional Round playoff game going OVER the total. In games with totals of 37 or less, the OVER is 11-5. In games with totals 49 or higher, the OVER is 7-3-1.
  • The secret to the NFC road underdog upset has been defense. In fact, in the last seven NFC Wildcard Playoff games where road teams pulled upsets, the total result has been UNDER, and the home team has averaged just 10.7 PPG.
  • In terms of scoring, 27 points is the magic number for home team success in the divisional playoffs. In games where they score 27 or more, they are 29-5 SU & 26-8 ATS (76.5%) since ‘93. In games where home teams don't reach 27 points, they are a flip-of-the-coin 15-15 SU but an awful 5-23-2 ATS (17.9%)!
  • For the road team in the Divisional Round, success hinges on the modest 18-point mark. Those scoring 18 or more are 14-13 SU & 21-6 ATS, those producing 17 or less are 3-34 SU & 10-25-2 ATS
  • Like the Wildcard Round, the home team essentially dictates the total result. In past Divisional Round games where the hosts scored 23 or more points, the OVER is 27-9-1 since ‘93. In games where they fail to reach 23 points, the UNDER is 22-5.

    NFL Playoff Statistical Analysis


    For those of you who may have missed last week's Wildcard Article, I introduced some reasons as to why statistics are an important piece to the puzzle that is NFL playoff handicapping. But which stats matter the most to playoff success?

    To help answer this question, I've taken the results of past postseason games, all rounds, and cross-referenced them against the statistics of the teams playing going into that game. The statistical categories considered were some of the most common found at places like StatFox.com and other websites covering the NFL.

    Here is a list of the categories I studied:

  • Won-Lost Records
  • Offensive and Defensive Points Per Game
  • Scoring Differential
  • Offensive and Defensive Rushing Yards Per Game
  • Offensive and Defensive Rushing Yards Per Attempt
  • Offensive and Defensive Passing Yards Per Game
  • Offensive and Defensive Passing Yards Per Attempt
  • Offensive and Defensive Yards Per Play
  • Turnover Differential

    Here are the records from that article, updated to include the '09 Wildcard games...

    Trends of Teams from Stats Recorded during a Playoff Game


    In looking at the stats that teams generate in postseason games and their relationship to winning or losing, I've decided to stick with the longer range study, since '93. I firmly believe that the recipe of how teams win hasn't changed. They still need to make big plays through the air, win the turnover battle, and put the game away by running the football. Both theoretically and statistically, these three factors have proven most vital to winning playoff games. Take a look.

  • Turnovers have proven to be the most crucial of these factors, as teams that have turned the ball over fewer times in a playoff game are an incredible 119-24-3 ATS (83.2%). Strangely, three teams last year turned the ball over fewer times and lost ATS.
  • Teams that rush for more yards in a playoff game are 127-40 ATS (76.0%). The team that is ahead typically will run the ball more, but still it is important to know which team can better control the line of scrimmage. Keep in mind though, that the record of this trend last January was just 6-5 ATS.
  • Teams that average more yards per pass attempt, or those that create more big plays through the air, have compiled a mark of 118-49 ATS (70.7%) in playoff games. Big plays via the passing game give teams leads, which in turn allow them to run the ball more and avoid turnovers.
  • When you combine the factors and find teams that have edges in all three key statistical aspects, the records go to 76-2 SU & 68-7-1 ATS (90.6%). In fact, home teams that have enjoyed edges in all three have a perfect record of 54-0 SU since 1993 in the playoffs! New England was the one home winner to do it last January vs. Jacksonville, but ironically, the Patriots failed to cover a lofty 13-1/2-point spread.

    With this recipe in hand, forecasting the games is a snap using the FoxSheets' Game Estimator. StatFox employs back tested methods to project points, rushing yards and average, passing yards and average, total yards and yards per play, as well as turnovers, everything you need to fit the winners into the angles above.

    Statistical Angles of Teams Heading into a Playoff Game


    Taking the statistical categories I listed above and comparing the figures for the teams heading into their playoff games, I was able to come up with 33 different playoff betting systems that produced either better than 55% or worse than 45% results. If you consider that these are just pure raw statistics that are available to the average Joe bettor in the newspaper, this is a pretty extensive list. Be sure to jot down some of the teams that qualify in this year's playoff games and take advantage.

    Won-lost Record
    • Road teams with an even or better record than host are 12-11 ATS (55%)
    Record in '09: 1-2 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None

    Scoring
    • Home teams scoring 26.0 PPG or more are just 14-20 ATS (41.1%)
    Record in '09: 2-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST NY Giants
    • Road teams scoring 26.0 PPG or more are 9-5 ATS (64.3%)
    Record in '09: 1-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: San Diego, Arizona, Philadelphia
    • Home teams allowing less than 17 PPG are 21-16 ATS (56.8%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Pittsburgh, Tennessee
    • Road teams allowing less than 17 PPG are 18-11 ATS (62.1%)
    Record in '09: 1-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore
    • Home teams outscoring their opponents by less than 5.0 PPG on the season are 8-14 ATS (36.4%)
    Record in '09: 1-2 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Home teams outscoring opponents by more than 11.5 PPG on the season are just 4-6 SU & 1-9 ATS (10%).
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Road teams outscoring opponents by more than 11.5 PPG on the season are just 1-2 SU & 0-3 ATS (0%).
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None

    Rushing Stats
    • Teams that run for more yards per attempt on the season are 46-40 ATS (53.5%).
    Record in '09: 1-3 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Tennessee, San Diego, Carolina, NY Giants
    • Teams that run for more yards per attempt on the season and are an underdog are 25-18 ATS (58.1%)
    Record in '09: 1-2 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: San Diego
    • Home teams that average 106 RYPG or less are 14-5 ATS (73.7%)
    Record in '09: 1-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Pittsburgh
    • Home teams that average 136 RYPG or more are just 7-13 ATS (35.0%)
    Record in '09: 0-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST Tennessee, AGAINST Carolina, AGAINST Tennessee
    • Road teams that average 136 RYPG or more are 12-10 ATS (54.5%)
    Record in '09: 1-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore
    • Teams that allow fewer rushing yards per attempt on the season are 48-38 ATS (55.8%).
    Record in '09: 3-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Philadelphia
    • Teams that allow fewer rushing yards per attempt on the season and are an underdog are 29-20 ATS (59.2%)
    Record in '09: 2-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, Arizona, Philadelphia
    • Home teams that allow more than 4.35 YPR on the season are 7-12 ATS (36.8%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST Carolina
    • Road teams that allow 3.90 YPR or fewer are 24-11 ATS (68.6%)
    Record in '09: 2-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, Arizona, Philadelphia
    • Road teams that allow 4.15 YPR or more are just 11-19 ATS (36.7%)
    - Record in '09: 0-2 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Road teams that allow more than 125.0 RYPG are 9-6 ATS (60.0%)
    Record in '09: 0-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Road teams that allow fewer than 100.0 RYPG are 23-14 ATS (62.2%)
    Record in '09: 2-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, Philadelphia

    Passing Stats
    • Teams that pass for more yards per attempt on the season and are an underdog are 19-14 ATS (57.6%)
    Record in '09: 1-2 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, San Diego
    • Home teams that gain more than 7.40 yards per pass attempt or more on the season are just 9-16 ATS (36.0%)
    Record in '09: 2-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST Carolina
    • Road teams that gain 6.10 PYA or less on the season are 12-6 ATS (66.7%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Teams that pass for more yards per game on the season and are an underdog are 20-15 ATS (57.1%)
    Record in '09: 1-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: San Diego, Arizona, Philadelphia
    • Teams that allow fewer passing yards per attempt on the season are 39-47 ATS (45.3%).
    Record in '09: 2-2 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST Baltimore, AGAINST Philadelphia
    • Home teams that allow 192.0 PYPG or fewer are 10-16 ATS (38.5%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST Pittsburgh

    Yards Per Play Stats
    • Home teams that gain less than 5.1 yards per play on offense are just 3-8 ATS (27.3%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Home teams that gain 6.15 or more yards per play on offense are also just 3-8 ATS (27.3%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Road teams that yield 4.90 yards per play or fewer on defense are 15-5 ATS (75.0%)
    Record in '09: 2-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, Philadelphia
    • Home teams that outgain their opponents by 0.25 or less yards per play (differential) on the season are 6-15 ATS (28.6%)
    Record in '09: 0-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None
    • Home teams outgaining their opponents by 1.00 or more yards per play are just 1-9 ATS (10%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: AGAINST Pittsburgh
    • Road teams outgaining their opponents by 0.25 or more yards per play on the season are 12-6 ATS (66.7%)
    Record in '09: 2-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: Baltimore, San Diego, Arizona, Philadelphia

    Turnover Stats
    • Road teams that enjoyed a turnover differential of more than +1.00 per game on the season are 8-2 ATS (80%)
    Record in '09: 0-0 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None

    Statistical Combination Angles
    • Teams that gain more yards per attempt both rushing AND passing are 26-21 ATS (55.3%)
    Record in '09: 1-3 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: San Diego, Carolina, NY Giants
    • Teams that gain more yards per attempt both rushing AND passing and yield fewer rushing yards per game are 11-6 ATS (64.7%)
    Record in '09: 1-1 ATS
    - Qualifiers for ‘09 DIV: None

    Good luck on the Divisional Playoff games this weekend. See ya next week for the Conference Championship action!

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