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Elite Quarterbacks Add Extra Layer to NFL’s Divisional Playoffs Betting

MVP quarterbacks will add a little extra juice to the betting on this weekend’s four NFL divisional playoff games.

Aaron Rodgers, the presumptive MVP after winning the award in 2011 and 2014, will lead the Green Bay Packers against the visiting Los Angeles Rams in Game 1 on Saturday. In Game 2, 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will play at the Buffalo Bills.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (left) meets with Tampa Bay Buccaneers counterpart Tom Brady following their game on Nov. 8 in Tampa, Fla. The Saints, who have beaten the Bucs twice this season, will host the playoff rematch on Sunday. (Image: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

In Game 1 on Sunday, 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will host the upstart Cleveland Browns. Finally, in Game 2, three-time MVP and 2017 winner Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the host New Orleans Saints.

Saturday’s Games

Packers-Rams is a classic matchup. Led by Rodgers, who was No. 1 in the league in passer rating, touchdowns, and completion percentage, Green Bay led the NFL in scoring. Led by potential Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, the Rams led the NFL in scoring defense.

The line has gone from Packers by 7.5 to 6.5.

That sounds like we’re heavy on the Rams, but far from it. It’s been pretty much all Packers money,” said Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook for DraftKings, to Casino.org.

“The sharp money took the 7.5 and the 7, so that tells us the sharps are liking the Rams’ side. I think we’re going to get pushed back to 7. That’s exactly what happened last week with the Bills-Colts game. When we got close to kickoff, we got pushed to 7. The sharps were on the 7.5 and the 7. The Bills won the game, but did not cover, so that was good for us.”

The second game features dual-threat quarterbacks. Jackson rushed for 136 yards in last week’s victory over Tennessee. He sparks a Ravens running game that has piled up 889 yards the past three weeks.

Last week, Buffalo’s Josh Allen became the first player in NFL history with 300-plus passing yards, a completion rate of at least 70 percent, and 50-plus rushing yards in the game against against Indianapolis.

As is the case with the Packers, the vast majority of the money is on the Bills.

“The Bills are just a popular team right now, not only because of their record, but they’ve been covering and they score a lot of points,” Avello said.

Sunday’s Games

The Chiefs, the reigning champs and betting favorite to repeat, are 10-point favorites over the Browns. That is the biggest spread of the weekend.

That’s a great number because it’s a number that makes you think,” Avello said. “Do I want to lay 10 on the Chiefs, or do I want to take the Browns? This is getting balanced action. If we had opened at anything less than 10, it would have been all Chiefs money. But 10 is the number that makes you think.”

The total has gone from 54 to 57 and might keep going.

In the finale, it’s a quarterbacking battle for the ages. Or the aged. Including playoffs, the 43-year-old Brady is No. 1 all-time with 90,973 passing yards and 656 touchdowns. The 42-yard-old Drew Brees is second with 85,590 passing yards and 607 touchdowns.

The Saints are 3-point favorites. While that line has received two-way action, bettors have been all over the Bucs on the moneyline.

“This is the third time these teams have met, and Tampa is yet to win a game,” Avello said. “There’s a theory out there in the NFL that if you play a team three times, it’s really difficult to beat them three times. So, I think people have that in their mind. Plus, the Tom Brady factor. They’ve been betting him since he came to Tampa back in April and throughout the entire year.”

Mahomes (+200), Brady (+350) and Allen (+475) are the favorites to lead the field in passing yards at PointsBet.

The conference championship games will be held next Sunday. At BetMGM, Kansas City (+220) and Green Bay (+400) remain the Super Bowl favorites. The Buccaneers (+900) are the consensus biggest liability at sportsbooks.

Bill Huber

Sports, sportsbetting----Football, from games to the draft, is Bill Huber’s passion. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division III powerhouse where Bill watched games from the bench for a few seasons, he's reported on the NFL’s Green Bay Packers since 2008, first for Packer Report and now for Sports Illustrated’s Packer Central. He's covered two Super Bowls, writing features so insightful that they made some players’ moms cry. When not writing about football, he loves camping with his family, coaching his kids, playing with his two golden retrievers. But his real joy is in going toe-to-toe in cribbage with his wife. Email: bill.huber@casino.org.

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Bill Huber