2022 NFL Divisional Round Odds & Early Bets: Packers, Bengals, Bills Lead Freedman’s Plays
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers.
Super Wild Card Weekend isn’t even over yet, thanks to the first postseason Monday Night Football game we’ve had in decades, but sportsbooks have already posted lines for the three Divisional Round games already set, so let’s get betting.
Although I’m not a trends bettor, I find that using the Action Labs database (which goes back to 2003) helps me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.
All lines are from the Action Network NFL Odds page.
Abbreviations: Against the spread (ATS), return on investment (ROI).
Bengals +4 at Titans
- Kickoff: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
I know that the Titans are the No. 1 seed, and they earned it by beating a number of playoff teams on their way to a 12-5 record — but they also lost to the Jets and Texans, as well as bottom-tier playoff teams in the Cardinals, Patriots and Steelers.
The Titans are not the typical No. 1 seed.
I believe that they are vulnerable.
The Bengals have the best quarterback in this game in Joe Burrow. In fact, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s No. 2 — behind only Aaron Rodgers — in composite expected points added (EPA) and completion percentage over expectation (CPOE, 0.165, per RBs Don’t Matter).
The Titans are better than the Bengals in the running game (-0.054 rush EPA per play, No. 13 vs. -0.098, No. 22), but running back Derrick Henry (foot, IR) seems unlikely to be fully healthy in his return from injury — and the Bengals have a significant edge in the passing game (0.167 dropback EPA per play, No. 7 vs. 0.092 dropback EPA per play, No. 14).
On defense, these two teams have almost identical numbers.
- Overall EPA per play: Titans – No. 13, -0.018; Bengals – No. 14, -0.010
- Dropback EPA per play: Titans – No. 9, 0.011; Bengals – No. 10, 0.026
- Rush EPA per play: Titans – No. 13, -0.082; Bengals – No. 14, -0.082
Given the edge the Bengals have in the passing game and the similarity they share with Titans on defense, I think they offer value at this number.
And historically No. 1 seeds have been overrated in this spot. In the Divisional Round, underdogs are 23-12-1 ATS (26.7% ROI) against the No. 1 seed.
This year, the Bengals are 4-1 ATS (54.3% ROI) as road underdogs.
Action: Bengals +4 (-110) at DraftKings
Limit: +3.5 (-110)
Packers -4.5 vs. 49ers
- Kickoff: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
I will admit that I am tempted by the idea of betting on the 49ers. Together, head coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are 10-3 ATS (51.4% ROI) as road underdogs.
But the 49ers are on short rest (Sunday to Saturday), and the Packers are on extra rest coming off the bye.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 12-5-1 ATS (35.7% ROI) off the bye for his career, and the Packers are likely to be the healthiest they’ve been all year entering this game with the recent return of left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and expected return of cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder).
Meanwhile, the 49ers might be without two of their best defensive players in edge rusher Nick Bosa (concussion) and Fred Warner (ankle).
But here’s the big thing: Rodgers is at home, where he’s a very nice 69-37-4 ATS (25.8% ROI).
I have a simple rule: Bet on Rodgers at Lambeau Field, where this year he’s 7-1 ATS (64% ROI). The last year Rodgers had a sub-.500 ATS record at home was 2008 — his first season as a starter.
Rodgers at home is one of the sharpest square bets a human can make.
Action: Packers -4.5 (-114) at FanDuel
Limit: -6.5 (-110)
Bills +2.5 at Chiefs
- Kickoff: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
This past weekend, the Bills played perhaps the best offensive game of football ever.
And with the Bills kneeling it out, they’re going to do it. No kicks or punts. No turnovers. Also no failed 4th down attempts. Wow – an incredible game and a first in NFL history!
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) January 16, 2022
Quarterback Josh Allen in particular was unbelievable with 21-of-25 passing for 308 yards and five touchdowns and 6-66-0 rushing.
Josh Allen's wild card game highlighted versus every playoff performance in the PFF era (since 2006) pic.twitter.com/HPND87nOrD
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) January 17, 2022
On defense, the Bills are No. 2 in overall EPA per play (-0.099).
They have the best combination of offense and defense of any team in the playoffs.
And Allen is 10-5-2 ATS (25.4% ROI) as a road underdog.
As good as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is, he’s a mediocre 9-10 ATS at home since last year.
Action: Bills +2.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Limit: +1.5 (-110)