It’s time for the first NFL playoff games of the New Jersey legal sports betting era, and there’s an overarching question facing bettors in this wild card round: How much does a quarterback’s playoff experience matter to you?
In all four of this weekend’s games, the home teams are favored (though not by much) and the road teams have the QBs who have been there before.
Andrew Luck is 3-3 for his career in the playoffs; Deshaun Watson is getting his first playoff start. Russell Wilson is 8-4 in the postseason and has a Super Bowl ring; Dak Prescott has a playoff record of 0-1. Philip Rivers is 4-5 all-time in the postseason; Lamar Jackson is a rookie. Nick Foles is 3-1 in the playoffs and is the reigning Super Bowl MVP; Mitchell Trubisky is headed to the postseason for the first time.
The home teams won their divisions and are favored for a reason, but if you like experienced signal callers, getting points or plus moneylines on the road teams has to look attractive.
There’s a lot to analyze heading into these Wild Card games, and as always, shopping around at DraftKings Sportsbook, BetStars NJ, FanDuel Sportsbook, and other New Jersey online sportsbooks that are just a link click or download away can provide savvy bettors with an edge.
|Spread||Texans -1||Texans -1||Texans -1|
There’s not a lot of comparison shopping to do here, as the total (the highest of the weekend at a mere 48) and the spread are the same everywhere. Money has been coming in on Indy, closing the line a bit from where it started (-2.5 at Westgate in Las Vegas). There’s a little variation on the moneyline, with FanDuel the best place to put dollars down on an outright winner.
But mostly, the questions here are whether the offenses will put up points (they played each other twice this season and combined for 71 points the first time and 45 the second time) and whether you trust the talented Watson in his first playoff game against a 29-year-old former No. 1 overall pick who’s been there before.
|Spread||Cowboys -2||Cowboys -2||Cowboys -3|
It’s only Friday, and there’s already been some significant movement on this line. Dallas opened as a 2½-point favorite, Seattle money moved it down to 1, and now it’s back up to 2 or 3, depending on where you look. It should go without saying that Seahawks backers should place their bets at FanDuel and Cowboys believers should go to DK or ’Stars.
The point total is interesting, in that it’s a half-point lower at FD, but the pricing isn’t your usual -110 both ways there. The over costs -125, the under pays +105. How much does the half-point matter to you?
|Spread||Ravens -2.5||Ravens -3||Ravens -3|
A rematch of a game Baltimore won 22-10 on the road two weeks ago (the difference between them making and missing the playoffs and the difference between a 5-seed and a 1-seed for L.A.), this one seems to have the widest range of potential outcomes. You have the third-best defense in the NFL against the third-best offense, a visiting team that was actually much better on the road (7-1, compared to 5-3 at home) against a team with a rookie quarterback who had seven starts, threw for just 1,201 yards and 6 TDs, and ran for a whopping 695 yards and 5 TDs.
You save a half-point with the Ravens at DraftKings, and if you like the Chargers to win you might as well take FanDuel’s moneyline, but beyond that, there’s not a lot of variation between the sites on this game. If you really want to have some fun, though, Lamar Jackson is +980 at FanDuel to rack up the most rushing yards of everyone this weekend.
|Spread||Bears -6.5||Bears -6.5||Bears -6.5|
The only game of the weekend featuring a home team that would be favored on a neutral field, this one is all about how much you believe in Nick Foles’ magic. (Or in the magic of his teammates rising to the occasion when he’s under center.)
The Eagles on the moneyline, especially at FanDuel, offers an attractive payout if you believe this team will just keep finding a way with Foles. But if you feel defense wins championships, the Bears to win or cover, and perhaps the under on the lowest total of the weekend, are the bets for you.
Super Bowl futures
By shopping around, here are the best prices you’ll find on the 12 playoff teams to win it all:
|Rams||+500 (all sites)|
|Patriots||+600 (all sites)|
|Bears||+1000 (all sites)|
|Chargers||+1600 (all sites)|
|Seahawks||+2800 (DraftKings & BetStars)|
Is there a good value there? If you believe in Big Genitalia Nick (admittedly, it doesn’t have the same ring when you clean it up for a family publication), the Eagles are interesting on BetStars, especially considering they’re only 25/1 at DraftKings. But even at 35/1, it’s questionable value on a team that’s an underdog to get through the first round of the playoffs and would be facing a Saints team the following week that beat them by 41 points earlier this season.
Just keep this in mind: The Saints’, Rams’, Chiefs’, and Patriots’ odds won’t change much between now and Monday; the wild card teams’ odds will. So if, for example, you’re confident in who will win the Chargers-Ravens game and believe that team has a shot to go all the way, you may as well get ‘em now at +1600 instead of a few days from now at about +800.
Wheelin’ and dealin’
As usual, there are special promotions to be found at the various New Jersey sites, including several we’ve seen before: parlay insurance at DraftKings on a four-leg bet (can include the NCAA football championship game), overtime loss insurance at DK, and insurance at BetStars if your moneyline pick is leading in the final two minutes and loses.
The most appealing promotion, though, is a new one from FanDuel: Any parlay on wild card games is insured, as long as no legs of the parlay are safer than -200. You can try to win a little money with a simple two-leg parlay, or a lot with more legs and maybe some long shot prop bets. But the catch is that you’re only insured up to $25. Still, it’s a rare no-risk opportunity being offered by FD.
BetStars also has an intriguing Odds Boost posted right now, on all four home teams to win this weekend. Do you trust all of those inexperienced QBs? If so, the payout is +900, bumped up from what would normally be +629.
Photo by Andreaa Dragomir / Shutterstock.com
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