NFL Betting Guide: Divisional Round Sunday
With wider spreads in Saturday's games, the NFL is hypothetically saving the best for last on Sunday.
In the early afternoon, the defending AFC champs, the Cincinnati Bengals, will travel to face this year's preseason AFC favorite, the Buffalo Bills. In the later game, the Dallas Cowboys will head west to face the daunting San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last year's Wild Card game.
Using NFL odds and totals from FanDuel Sportsbook, where can we find betting value in these contests?
Bills -5.5 (-110) - 1.5 Units
Under 49.5 (-110) - 1.0 Unit
These are both spreads I'd have highlighted on a full slate, so I'm thrilled to get them in a spotlight setting like this.
This line stinks to high heaven. Before the unfortunate Damar Hamlin situation, the Bengals were leading 7-3 just weeks ago as a 1.5-point underdog. Yet, this spread opened at 4.0, and despite the Bengals getting 72% of spread bets and 68% of the spread's handle, this has moved Buffalo's way to 5.5.
These are two teams at opposite ends of the public-eye spectrum. The Bills just squeaked by Skylar Thompson. The Bengals -- if you got the opening number of 6.5 points -- covered last week and were a league-best 12-4 against the spread (ATS) this season.
The issue for Cincinnati is their offensive line. They're likely down three solid starters up front and are set to battle a Buffalo squad that amassed a 31% pressure rate (tied for sixth in the NFL) this season. Both of Cincy's starting corners are on the injury report, as well, as the Bengals are set to face numberFire's seventh-ranked passing offense.
This might be a story of home-field and health. Buffalo's injury report is fairly quiet. Considering the Bengals scored just 17 offensive points against Baltimore, Cincinnati's offensive-line issues could derail them, too.
Between that, potentially snowy conditions, and the weekend's slowest average situation-neutral pace, the under is a solid look, too. That's another sharp play to fade the public -- 81% of bets and 69% of the cash are currently with the over.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Bills 27-19
Cowboys +3.5 (-106) - 1.0 Unit
Under 46.5 (-112) - 1.5 Units
FanDuel Sportsbook consumers are putting 63% of spread bets and 68% of the handle on the 49ers. It looks like America has a new team this weekend.
This should be a wonderful defensive battle in Santa Clara. San Francisco is numberFire's third-ranked D from the regular season, and Dallas checks in fourth. These two defenses also amassed the two highest pressure rates of the year; Dallas pressured signal-callers at a 40% clip, and the Niners were at 37%.
They both exist to make quarterbacks' lives miserable, and taking the field goal -- with a hook -- behind the been-there-done-that veteran, Dak Prescott, over 2022's "Mr. Irrelevant," Brock Purdy, is wildly appealing.
They both come in red-hot, but it's with a disclaimer. Dak's sparkling 0.75 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back last week came against a Tampa Bay defense our numbers ranked 10th-best. Purdy's 0.72 was also impressive, but it was against a Seattle D that was fourth-worst by our metrics.
Expect plenty of rushing in this game. It has the highest average rush rate over expectation of any game this weekend, and these two squads were top-11 teams in that category in the regular season. That only helps the under with time being chewed off the clock, and these defenses are also both solid at stopping that gameplan.
With large spreads for the two Saturday games and riding with the Bills in the early Sunday affair, there has to be an upset somewhere this weekend, right? I'll pick the Cowboys to pull one as the rookie comes back to Earth. Either way, the 3.5 points are a gift.
Swami Swaim's Score Prediction: Cowboys 20-17