Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes
- Patrick Mahomes will make his first start in the NFL playoffs on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts (4:35 p.m. ET, NBC).
- Using Bet Labs, we analyze how quarterbacks making their playoff debuts have performed against the spread.
On Saturday, Patrick Mahomes will make his NFL playoff debut when the Kansas City Chiefs (-5) host the Indianapolis Colts (4:35 p.m. ET, NBC). Mahomes is not the only quarterback to take his first postseason snaps this year, either.
The Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson, Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Chicago Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky all started their first playoff game last weekend. It didn’t go well as each newbie lost and failed to cover.
Should bettors expect the Chiefs to struggle in Arrowhead in Mahomes’ first playoff appearance? To find out, we looked at every first-time playoff starter since 2002 when the league expanded to 32 teams and adopted the current postseason format.
In that time, 55 quarterbacks have made playoff debuts. Twelve of these QBs faced each other and have been excluded from our sample.
That leaves 43 first-time starters in games against an experienced playoff quarterback, which is the same scenario for Mahomes and the Chiefs this weekend. Mahomes’ opponent, Andrew Luck, will start his eighth playoff game.
As it turns out, the playoff flops by Watson, Jackson and Trubisky in the Wild Card round is nothing new. Since 2002, first-time starters in the playoffs have gone 13-30 straight up (SU) and 11-31-1 against the spread (ATS) per Bet Labs.
All quarterbacks, whether they have home-field advantage or are favored by the betting market, have let gamblers down. Passers playing at home have gone 8-18 SU and 6-20 ATS, while chalk quarterbacks are 8-14 SU and 5-17 ATS.
Quarterbacks who are home favorites, like Mahomes, have gone 6-13 SU and 3-16 ATS.
History has not been kind to quarterbacks making their playoff debuts. Of course, Mahomes is not your typical newcomer.
He’s only the second player in NFL history to throw 50 touchdown passes and for more than 5,000 yards in the same season. Mahomes is also a -230 favorite to win the NFL MVP award.
Mahomes is not your classic first-time playoff starter, but he’ll have to overcome history to win and cover against the Colts.