Image Credit: © Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
It went right down to the 2020 NFL season’s final minute, but after 256 regular-season games, we have a playoff picture set in stone.
Betting the playoffs isn’t easy, but it also isn’t as difficult as some would have you believe.
Many gamblers tend to overthink playoff matchups and spreads. Big spreads are generally looked at with suspicion; after all, how much difference can there be between playoff teams in today’s NFL? Plus, with notable stories about wildcard teams getting hot at the right time and making a run (2007 Giants, 2019 Titans), isn’t it better to assume that a team that earned the right to play extra games can always keep it close against a squad that is, on paper, the superior team?
In short, no. Especially not this year.
The 2020 NFL postseason features, for the first time, a third wildcard team in each conference. This eliminates the bye week for the second seed in each bracket as they match up against a seventh seed in the wildcard round.
The 2020 NFL postseason also features, for only the fifth time in history, a team with a losing record in the NFC East champion (as much as that means) Washington Football Team.
With that in mind, we’re going to make our New Year’s betting resolution “don’t overthink it.” Don’t overthink big spreads, don’t overthink bad matchups. Fire at will.
IND (+6) at BUF
As a Bills fan, I often hesitate to tell people when I bet the Bills. This week I feel like I have to say something as there are many people who see value in the Colts at anything more than a field goal. I’m not one of those people. Trot out DVOA stats all you want, but the eye test is more than enough. The Colts are trending down while Buffalo is playing their best football right now. If the Bills get out to a fast start, which they’re more than capable of, it’s going to turn into another Philip Rivers playoff flop, and Indianapolis will get boat raced. At any spread under 7, the value is on the favorite in this matchup.
The pick: BUF
Tampa Bay (-8) at WAS
If it weren’t for the Saints, Tampa Bay would be sitting at home watching this weekend’s games and waiting to see who they play after their first-round bye. While boasting one of the best defensive lines in the league, the above-mentioned Washington is just a bad team. Between Alex Smith’s health and the Bucs’ tendency to manhandle losing teams this year, the minus-8 figure is a trap. Don’t get caught in it. Trust a good team to take care of business against a team with no business being in the playoffs.
The pick: Tampa Bay
CLE (+6) at PIT
Yes, the same Cleveland team you saw nearly blow their playoff chances against a Steelers squad quarterbacked by Mason Rudolph is only getting six points in the final matchup of wildcard weekend. To be completely honest, this Cleveland team is worse than the one you saw last week, with the head coach and offensive play-caller Kevin Stefanski out with COVID along with pro bowl OL Joel Bitonio. The Browns also lost DE Olivier Vernon, who had nine sacks lining up opposite of Myles Garrett this season, to an Achilles injury this past Sunday. Frankly, Pittsburgh isn’t favored by enough.
The pick: PIT
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