Written By Billy Attridge
The NFL blessed us with excellent football Wild Card weekend, as two games went to overtime and the other two were decided in the final minutes of the 4th quarter. This week, we discuss early movement on the Vikings-49ers side Saturday afternoon, and for Sunday, we dip our toes into the derivative market and uncover value on Andy Reid and the Chiefs offense coming off the bye. Before investing your hard-earned money on the Divisional Round, find out why these numbers have moved and could continue to do so.
Minnesota +7 @ San Francisco:
Minnesota sent a shock wave into the NFC landscape last week, arguably putting together their best performance of the season upsetting the New Orleans Saints as a touchdown-plus underdog. The Vikings now travel on a short week across the country to face the rested San Francisco 49ers, one of the more complete teams in the league. Despite all those narratives, let’s see why the Vikings could once again provide value. The number opened -6.5 at the sharpest books in the world, dropped to -6, and has steadily risen again over the past couple days to the current posted price above at at FoxBet.com. There are two opposing schools of thought, and professional bettors are conflicted on this game. If the 49ers side is the one you’re looking at, the argument could be made that last week’s game closed New Orleans -7.2, and San Francisco would be slightly favored over the Saints on a neutral field. Now, combined that with a short week, Cousins and the Vikings outdoors, Diggs dealing with the flu and Thielen getting banged up at practice, and you could see why some find value at -6.5. That viewpoint only works IF one was to feel the market had the right number last week in the Big Easy. We dissected why that Wild Card Weekend number was inflated, and once again we feel the same here. Minnesota’s offense, despite the reports of Diggs having mid-week sickness and Theilen’s leg laceration, is extremely healthy and should once again have success on the ground against the “weakness” of a 49ers defense that ranks 21st in defensive rush success rate. On the other side of the ball, Minnesota’s defensive line now ranks 5th in adjusted sack rate, and we should see them generate pressure on Jimmy Garopollo, who now enters the biggest game of his life with the pressure and expectation of victory. Minnesota at this point is playing with house money. This number could tick up a bit higher again, as there were books earlier in the week that did go to 7.5 before a different group of professionals grabbed the dog. To be clear, one group of professional bettors laid -6/-6.5 on San Fran, another took juiced +7.5 on Minnesota. Differing viewpoints, but both were on the good side of the second largest key number.
Houston @ Kansas City Team Total Over 28.5:
In the second AFC semifinal we get a Week 6 rematch from a game that ended with a Houston 31-24 victory in Arrowhead. Kansas City jumped out to an early 17-3 lead in the first quarter of that game, but could only muster 7 points the rest of the way despite averaging 6.6 yards per play. If one was to re-watch that game they would see Houston employed an excellent strategy of running the football, draining clock, and keeping Mahomes on the sideline. The Texans executed that plan perfectly, holding onto the football for nearly 39 minutes! The Chiefs defense was really struggling at that time to stuff the run, especially with the absence of stud defensive tackle Chris Jones, and that certainly isn’t who Kansas City is right now. On the other side, Houston’s defense is healthier in the secondary and with J.J. Watt returning that unit is likely better than they were a month ago. But even with improved health against Buffalo in their home building, the Bills left at least 7-10 points off the scoreboard due to a lack of aggressiveness (and execution) in play-calling in the second half. Andy Reid off of a bye is phenomenal (22-4 straight up, 17-9 ATS), and his game plans with an extra prep are pristine. It’s difficult to find where the Texans could find success stopping the Chiefs, whose speed everywhere on offense will be on full display Sunday. With the total rising from 48 to 51, and the Chiefs hitting -10 at FoxBet.com, the value on either of those positions has decreased significantly. The Chiefs team total however, is sitting at 28.5 to 30.5 across the market, and at that price it’s worth a wager on Patrick Mahomes and the bevy of talent at his disposal.