The NFL Playoffs are down to just eight elite teams heading into this weekend’s Divisional Round matchups.
We talk with Aron Black of Bet365.com about the early betting action on these games and where he sees the line ending up by kickoff:
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – Open: -9, Move: -8.5, Move: -9.5
Early money took the underdog, dropping the opener to -8.5, but action has come back on the Broncos and could have this moving as high as -10 before the 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff. According to Black, Denver bets are outnumbering Baltimore bets at a 2.5-to-1 rate while the total action is on Denver at a 4-to-1 lean.
“Baltimore has a slight edge from other teams in that it should be a pretty cold day in Denver on game day,” Black told Covers. “Obviously, Baltimore is used to that themselves, unless a snowstorm rolls in, which is always possible in Denver. Then we should see the line stay pretty steady to kickoff.”
The total has moved up from as low as 45 to 46.5 as of Wednesday. The early forecast is calling for a chance of snow in the afternoon and temperatures falling as low as 8 degrees.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers – Open: -3.5, Move: -3, Move: -2.5
Some online books opened as high as San Francisco -3.5 and some have made the move off the key number to -2.5 with money coming in on Green Bay. The majority of markets opened the Niners as juiced field-goal favorites but have since moved to plus money with action on the Packers coming in at a 4-to-1 pace.
Black says the flood of action on Green Bay – both spread and moneyline (Packers moneyline action outnumbering 49ers moneyline at 6-to-1) – will put bookmakers in a tough spot as they try to stay on the key number of -3.
“Most places are hoping San Francisco gets support but there are places that may have to test the principles about moving off three,” says Black. “I can’t see many major books having anything but Green Bay money heavy on +3, so breaking to -2.5 will be a real choker for many bookies.”
“Along with most places, we are hanging onto the -3 and hopefully will get at least some margin back in our favor,” he adds. “But I think this will go more to Green Bay before any step back to San Francisco.”
The total has come down as low as 44.5 after opening at 45.5.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons – Open: -1.5, Move: -3, Move: -2.5
Depending on where you bet, Atlanta is available as low as -1.5 versus the Seahawks Sunday. Atlanta took the early money and was as high as a field-goal fave before buyback on Seattle took the line off the key number.
With a past of poor postseason showings, Black isn’t sold on the Falcons this weekend. And apparently bettors aren’t either. As of Wednesday, the action is very balanced with a slight lean toward the home side when it comes to the spread and even money on either side to win SU.
“I think this one stays near where it is, with the variety of lower juiced numbers making up the market,” says Black. “It’s possible it will go to Atlanta and break to -3, but books would only do that if the action is right on the lower numbers.”
The total for this NFC Divisional showdown has moved from 45.5 to 46 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots – Open: -9.5, Move: -9, Move: -9.5
Black recalls the line movement from the last time these teams met in Foxboro. New England opened as a 3.5-point home favorite and was bet up as high as -6.5 by kickoff for that Week 14 Monday Night Football showcase. The Patriots ended up thumping Houston 42-14. Books didn’t fool around with the spread for this rematch, setting the Pats as big chalk.
“Let’s just say that New England knows how to win, knows how to play, knows how to beat other teams when it matters,” says Black.
Action on the spread has come in on the Patriots at a 2-to-1 ratio while moneyline players are jumping on New England at a 5-to-1 pace. Black says the Pats will be the banker for the weekend games, with the books’ overall NFL hold riding on this final game.
“This one shouldn’t drop to lower than -9 and there’s no need for it to,” he says. “The money on New England will come and there will be those who will continue to play the higher number on Houston plus the points. But if the last five weeks are anything to go on, then more folks will look to get down on New England.”
The total for this weekend finale has moved from 48.5 to 47.5.