Teams to Watch and Trends to Follow for NFL Conference Championships Betting

We dive into NFL playoff betting trends and examine every team in the playoff bracket to evaluate their chances.

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2022 8:20 PM ET Read Time: 8 min
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles up the field against Buffalo Bills defensive end Boogie Basham (96) during the third quarter of the AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

2022 NFL playoff teams

The NFL playoffs are one of the most exciting times of the year for sports bettors, all leading up to the biggest day on the sports calendar: the Super Bowl. 

NFL playoff betting takes on an increased intensity as the level of competition rises and the hype brings in many extra bettors to football betting sites

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when betting on the NFL playoffs.

Almost everything is priced inAlmost everything is priced in

The NFL playoffs are among the most bet-on markets of the calendar year for sportsbooks. Due to the limited number of games and extra bettors making bets, it is highly unlikely that sportsbooks have not priced in any on-field matchup, stat, or trend

Unlike the regular season, where steady news cycles during the week move NFL odds, playoff numbers get adjusted quickly after the open. They often remain stuck in place for much of the week. Bettors should spend time looking at spots where sportsbooks may have priced too much into a game, and the market has over adjusted than seeking something that is not. 

Expanded prop offerings Expanded prop offerings

NFL playoff games are incredibly popular. Due to each game being a stand-alone option (not played during other games), sportsbooks offer an extensive list of props, specials, and in-play options. The average bettor is more likely to find success betting on the NFL playoffs by scouring these lists of betting options and seeking out mispriced props. 

The best chance for an average bettor to win money during the NFL playoffs is to bet on props, specifically Unders or things not to happen early in the week. 

While it can be unappealing to set up three hours of rooting for something not to occur, these are where the best bets exist. 

Home-field advantage increases Home-field advantage increases

The average NFL home-field advantage in the 2021 regular season was just greater than one point per game. Historically in the playoffs, it has carried much more weight. Playoff home teams have won at a nine percent higher rate than regular-season home teams. The deeper a team advances in the playoffs, the stronger home-field advantage becomes. Here is my home field advantage for each team in the 2021 playoffs.  

Team Home field Status
Green Bay 3 Eliminated
Kansas City 3 Eliminated
Dallas 2.5 Eliminated
Buffalo 2.5 Eliminated
New England 2.5 Eliminated
Tampa Bay 2.5 Eliminated
Cincinnati 2.5 Alive
Tennessee 2 Eliminated
LA Rams 2 Alive
Las Vegas 2 Eliminated
Arizona 1.5 Eliminated
San Francisco 1.5 Alive
Philadelphia Cannot host a home game Eliminated
Pittsburgh Cannot hose a home game Eliminated

Young quarterbacks struggle Young quarterbacks struggle

This rule is not absolute, but there is a long history of young quarterbacks struggling in NFL playoff debuts and beyond – specifically rookies. In the last decade, rookie quarterbacks are 2-9 in playoff games. The last time a rookie quarterback won a playoff start was Russell Wilson in 2012. Quarterbacks making their first-ever start in the postseason (rookie or veteran) are 16-36 since 2002. 

This season five quarterbacks fall into a first-time category.  

Quarterback Career playoff experience Status
Mac Jones (New England) Rookie and first playoff start Eliminated in one game
Derek Carr (Las Vegas) First playoff start Eliminated in one game
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati) Three playoff starts Advanced to Super Bowl
Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia) First playoff start Eliminated in one game
Kyler Murray (Arizona) First playoff start Eliminated in one game

Remaining 2022 NFL playoff team analysis

Los Angeles Rams

  • Fourth of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Ninth of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

There is a lot to love about the Rams entering the postseason on paper. The Rams rank high in all major offensive categories. They have a veteran quarterback, elite skill players, defensive stars at each level, and a head coach with lots of playoff experience. The team, though, is very boom or bust. In the second half of the season, no quarterback has thrown more interceptions than Matthew Stafford, who ranks 17th in EPA+COPE (a metric that combines offensive output against completion percentage relative to expectation). This is a far cry from the first half of the season when he ranked first overall. Los Angeles is just 2-5 this season against playoff opponents but will be an attractive underdog to back on the point spread if they make it into the second and third round. 

Next game: San Francisco 49ers  vs. Los Angeles Rams — Sunday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox

San Francisco 49ers

  • Second of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Sixth of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The 49ers are a sneaky playoff team. Down the stretch of the final six weeks of the season, professional bettors were backing them blindly on a week-by-week basis. Despite being slotted in the six seed, they rank fourth for the season in EPA/play on offense. While viewed as a running team – they are the sixth most effective passing offense. Therein lies much of the value professionals see. Ask an average bettor where Jimmy Garoppolo ranks in the league among quarterbacks, and the answers are shockingly poor. But the numbers show he ranks fourth in the league this season for EPA+CPOE and ninth in passer rating. This defense is quietly solid too. The 49ers rank sixth in pass rush win rate, second against the run, and 14th overall. The secondary is vulnerable, but this is a tough team to beat if they can build a lead early.

Next game: San Francisco 49ers  vs. Los Angeles Rams — Sunday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Ninth of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • 11th of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

It is easy to be excited about the Bengals when watching the highlights. Joe Burrow is an elite quarterback there to stay, and the trio of receivers are among the best in the league playing together. But it might surprise bettors to know that the Cincinnati Bengals rank just 11th in EPA/play and 17th in offensive success rate throughout the season. This number starts to look even more surprising when weighed against the second easiest schedule of opposing defenses. 

Despite having favorable matchups all season, the Bengals offense, viewed as explosive, somehow ranks out average. Big plays and outbursts during the season mask how good this team is. The Bengals have the issue upfront too. Their offensive line ranks the worst in the pass-block-win rate of any team in the playoffs. While Burrow is terrific against the blitz, opposing teams can negate the Cincinnati offense by generating pressure with just their front four. Defensively there are concerns too. Cincinnati ranks 19th in EPA/play allowed for the season and 26th in success rate.

Next game: Cincinnati Bengals  vs. Kansas City Chiefs — Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Eliminated 2022 NFL teams pre-playoff analysis

Kansas City Chiefs

  • 12th of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Fifth of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The Chiefs are a story of evolution throughout the season. Their offense changed how the league plays defense in the last two seasons. The Buccaneers laid the blueprint in the Super Bowl, and defenses followed it early in the year. Through the first seven weeks of the season, Kansas City was 3-4 with losses to Baltimore, LA Chargers, Buffalo, and Tennessee. They led the league in turnovers despite ranking best in EPA/play and success rate on offense - their defense ranked dead last. From week eight on, they got healthy and adjusted. They switched from a deep passing attack to a more patient style. Still, They remained in the top three for all major offensive categories.

Their defense improved from dead last to eighth in EPA/play allowed. A last-second loss to Cincinnati has them out of the #1 seed, but no team in the AFC has a higher ceiling than the Chiefs. The only problem is that the market will make you pay for it. Kansas City is favored to win the conference and is second in Super Bowl futures.

Next game: Cincinnati Bengals  vs. Kansas City Chiefs — Sunday, Jan. 30 at 3:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Tennessee Titans

  • 13th of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • 10th of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The Tennessee Titans are one of the most interesting playoff teams because of their contradicting season. They played with their full roster intact for the first eight weeks of 2021. Their offense ranked top ten in efficiency, and their defense showed dramatic improvements from 2020, especially up front. They earned victories against the Colts (twice), Chiefs, Bills, and Rams. Then attrition hit. 

The Titans' top three offensive weapons – Henry, Brown, and Jones – all went down with injuries. So did their top pass rusher, top two offensive linemen, and cover corner. Still, the Titans held ship. Sure, their schedule was much more manageable, and there were losses to Houston and Pittsburgh down the stretch, but they won their final three games to secure the one seed despite being far less than 100%. With all injured players expected to return and the Titans owning home-field advantage, this team could be a bargain. They are priced third-highest to win the AFC behind Kansas City and Buffalo. 

Buffalo Bills

  • First of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • First of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The numbers for Buffalo are impressive. They rank top of the league for net yards per play and net success rate. In offensive EPA/play, they rank eighth, success rate sixth. They are a league-best in EPA/play allowed and second in success rate on defense. They have the best point differential in the league at +11.4 and end the season more than two wins below expectation. However, there is a question of schedule. No team has faced an easier schedule of opponents than the Buffalo Bills in 2021. They have just two wins all season against playoff teams (Kansas City and New England) and finished the year with a 2-4 record against winning teams.

They have a considerable weakness stopping the run, but the better question is how the secondary will fare against elite quarterbacks without Tre'Davious White. The Bills have not faced a serious test since his injury — and probably will not be until the second round of the playoffs. Six wins this season for Buffalo have been against backup quarterbacks. The Bills are a tricky team to judge. All the talent is there, and at their best are arguably the best team in the league, but there are clear flaws that may ultimately prevent a Super Bowl push.

Green Bay Packers

  • 10th of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Eighth of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The Green Bay Packers are the one seed in the NFC due in part to the likely league MVP Aaron Rodgers. Their offense finished third in regular-season success rate, passing success rate, and EPA/play. They benefit from the bye and a steep home-field advantage in a wide-open NFC.

Their biggest issue all season is defending the run. The Packers ranked 30th this season in rush success rate defense and 18th overall. Green Bay will be a tough team to find value on throughout the playoffs. Still, the one thing bettors must be aware of is the potential return of David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith, and Jaire Alexander. All three are elite at their position, and the betting market may not fully account for the trio returning. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Third of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Second of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

Tampa Bay enters the playoffs as an extremely divisive team. It is difficult to ignore the offensive success they have had this season. They lead the league in offensive EPA/play and rank second in offensive success and pass success rates. They are one of two playoff teams that rank in the top five for net yards per play and net success rate. However, the injury bug hit them late. Godwin is out for the season, Brown is no longer with the team, and Evans has a hamstring injury, as does Fournette. This team is limited if Evans and Fournette cannot get healthy for a playoff push. They will likely get by Philadelphia regardless, but those names plus Lavonte David, Jamal Dean, and Shaquil Barrett must return if the Buccaneers want to repeat. 

Dallas Cowboys

  • Sixth of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Fourth of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

There is no doubting how explosive the Cowboys passing offensive can be. They rank top six in all major offensive categories and have the best wide receiver duo in the postseason. However, there is a question about this team stepping up a class despite the hype. In the final nine weeks of the season, the Cowboys earned six wins against non-playoff teams and lost all three games against playoff teams. Their only win this entire season against a playoff team was New England, a game which they trailed late and needed OT to get by. They have a ton of weapons, but a team that may not deserve the price tag they will get week-to-week.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Eighth of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • 13th of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

Philadelphia is an extremely misleading playoff team. They rank eighth in EPA/play, seventh in offensive success rate, and first in rushing success rate. All these things would make bettors interested – especially as a seven-seed getting points for any playoff game they play. However, context is essential. The Eagles haven’t beat a team with a winning record – all season! Removing the final game when they sat starters, they went 0-6 against teams with winning records and an average score margin of -10. In their nine wins – all against teams with losing records – their score margin jumps to +16. Late in the season, their run game clicked, and they have been impressive. But it is easy to run on bad teams when you have a lead.

Defensively they are 17th in EPA/play allowed, 22nd in success rate allowed, and 24th vs. the pass. No team allows QB’s to complete a higher percentage of passes than the Eagles, which is trouble for getting a lead in the playoffs and relying on the run game. To make matters worse, Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni are also making their playoff debut, which should be short-lived.

Arizona Cardinals

  • 11th of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Seventh of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

It’s unfortunate that the Cardinals finished the season as poorly as they did. They were shaping up to be one of the best potential fades in the postseason throughout December. Now at the five seed, much of the market has caught up. Without Deandre Hopkins, this team has an average roster. This season, in games with Hopkins, they rank second in EPA/play and third in offensive success rate. They rank 16th in EPA/play and 14th in success rate without him. He is unlikely to return this postseason, which means this is an average offense, with a quarterback and head coach making their playoff debuts. 

Las Vegas Raiders

  • Seventh of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • 12th of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The Las Vegas Raiders won their final four regular-season games to sneak into the playoffs. The Raiders catch a break with the Bengals, who sit in their weight class in the opening round. There are questions beyond Wild Card Weekend, however. This regular season, the resume of victories for Las Vegas is far from impressive. The wins down the stretch to get in were suspect too. Cleveland, Denver, and Indianapolis each had significant COVID outbreaks during the week. Against the Chargers, they kicked a field goal as OT expired to advance.

The one point of optimism is that those victories came with a one-weapon preseason offense. Without Darren Waller, teams were able to sit on Renfrow and Jones. With Waller back for the playoffs, the offense around Derek Carr has a chance against AFC defenses. The pass rush for Las Vegas has been an enormous asset. Still, if an opponent can hold up in the trenches, they can exploit this secondary that ranks 26th defending the pass.

New England Patriots

  • Fifth of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • Third of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The report on New England at face value stands out. Top five in both net yards per play, success rate, and top ten in EPA/play on offense and EPA/play allowed on defense. Mac Jones ranks 11th in EPA+CPOE for the season and is eighth in passing success rate overall. Bettors are going to love the idea of backing Bill Bellichick as an underdog in likely every game if the Patriots playoff run progresses. Still, there are real concerns about what happens when they step up in class. Outside of beating the Bills in ridiculous weather conditions and the Titans without their three best offensive players, the signature performance for New England this season is a 54-13 win against the Jets...

They lost three of four games down the stretch, and perhaps not surprising is that those three teams each had winning records. Their secondary is arguably the most overrated and least tested of any team in the playoffs. Additionally, a lot of their offensive output falls on the shoulders of Mac Jones in high leverage third-down situations. Rookie quarterbacks in the playoffs do not have a history of fortune and success.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • 14th of 14 playoff teams in net yards per play
  • 14th of 14 playoff teams in net success rate

The Steelers are one of the worst teams to qualify for the postseason in the last twenty years. This postseason, they are the only team with a negative net yards per play and net success rate differential. They scored just two first-half touchdowns in the final seven weeks of the season and were outscored by more than 100 points.

Their offensive output of 4.0 yards per play in the last four weeks ranks second-last in the league. The average rank of each personnel unit is 24th. The Steelers are a terrible team that somehow backed their way into the playoffs.

NFL playoff odds

The odds below are up-to-date within a five-minute delay and reflect the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks. Be sure to compare NFL odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

NFL playoff format

The 2022 NFL playoffs will begin on Saturday, Jan. 15. The playoffs are a single-elimination tournament featuring 14 teams in total that battle it out until only two teams remain to meet in the Super Bowl

How does the NFL playoff bracket work

The NFL Playoffs don’t use a static bracket, and teams are seeded according to the following criteria, with the higher-seeded teams always having home-field advantage:

  • The champions of each division within the AFC and NFC are seeded according to best record in positions one through four.
  • Each conference has three Wild Card teams (the three teams with the next best overall records), which are seeded in the five, six, and seven positions according to record. 

Wild Card Weekend (Jan. 15-17)

The first round of the playoffs is called the Wild Card round. The top-seeded division winner gets a bye from this round, and the remaining teams match up at seven vs. two, six vs. three, and five vs. four. 

Divisional round (Jan. 22-23)

The second round is commonly known as the Divisional Round. It features the top-seeded conference winners (which had a bye) hosting the lowest seed remaining from the Wild Card round and the other two remaining seeds squaring off, with the top-seeded team hosting.

Conference Championship (Jan. 30)

The third round of the NFL playoffs is the championship round to decide the AFC and NFC Championships. The four remaining teams square off, and the two still standing will meet at the Super Bowl on Feb. 13.

Super Bowl (Feb. 13)

The biggest game of the year and on any sports bettors calendar is the Super Bowl, where the AFC and NFC champions collide to compete for the Lombardi Trophy. 

NFL playoffs FAQs

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