Divisional Playoff Point Spreads Show Conference Disparities

Posted on: January 8, 2018, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: January 8, 2018, 01:20h.

Sports books think that New England and Pittsburgh will meet in the AFC Championship and the point spreads in this weekend’s divisional playoff games reflect that.

Nick Foles
The Philadelphia Eagles are the only home team that is an underdog in this weekend’s divisional playoff games, partly because they are relying on backup quarterback Nick Foles, who replaced injured starter Carson Wentz. (Image: Rob Carr)

They are both large favorites to advance to the game to see which team will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

The NFC divisional games are much tighter and oddsmakers believe there is much more parity between those four teams competing on Saturday and Sunday. Atlanta and Minnesota are only favored by three or four points in their contests.

The Super Bowl odds also indicate which way Las Vegas is leaning. The Patriots, who were the season-opening favorite to win the Lombardi Trophy at 6-1, are currently less than 2-1 at plus-180. The Minnesota Vikings are 4-1, way lower than the 25-1 they were in August. Pittsburgh is next at 9-2.

Big Underdogs in AFC Divisional Games

New England is hosting Tennessee, who upset Kansas City last Saturday, but Las Vegas doesn’t think they can do the same to the Patriots. Tom Brady and company are 13 ½-point picks to beat the Titans. The over/under is 47 points.

A nearly two-touchdown spread is unusual in the playoffs, but if any team can achieve that it is New England. They were double-digit favorites five times this season against the spread and went 3-2, including their last two games of the regular season.

The only question is a report that broke last week that said their was dissension within the organization. Brady, however, quickly dismissed the story as “complete nonsense.”

Pittsburgh would like to get a rematch with the Patriots in the AFC Championship and to do so will have to dispatch Jacksonville. The Jaguars got a lackluster victory against the Buffalo Bills and are 7 1/2-point underdogs to the Steelers, who like New England, enjoyed a week off to rest and get healthy. The over/under is 40 ½.

The Steelers are not a great bet ATS, however. In their last six regular season games they were 1-5 ATS and 7-9 overall.

NFC Features Tighter Matchups

The two games between NFC foes are much closer contests and one home team is not even the favorite. The Philadelphia Eagles lost their starting quarterback Carson Wentz in the 13th week of the season and despite going 2-1 with back up Nick Foles, the team is a 3-point underdog as they host Atlanta on Saturday. The over/under is 41 ½.

Atlanta is trying to return to the Super Bowl after last year’s collapse against the Patriots. The team was leading last year’s title game by 25 points with two quarters remaining but ended up losing. They are a 30-1 pick to win this year’s big game.

Minnesota has had quarterback issues as well, but seem to have found a reliable back up in Case Keenum. He took over for Sam Bradford after the first month of the season and led the team to playoffs. They host the New Orleans who held off Carolina in the Wild Card Game. The Vikings are 4-point favorites and the over/under is 45.