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NFL Playoff Betting Trends: Against-the-Spread Results for Divisional Opponents Playing a 3rd Time

NFL Playoff Betting Trends: Against-the-Spread Results for Divisional Opponents Playing a 3rd Time article feature image
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Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals is tackled by Kyle Hamilton #14 and Roquan Smith #18 of the Baltimore Ravens

Three of the weekend’s six NFL Wild Card Round games will be between divisional opponents: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals.

Teams that have already faced off twice should be very familiar with each other, which, in theory, could be an advantage for the underdog.

You’ve likely heard someone in sports media say something along the lines of, “It’s hard to beat the same team three times in a season,” but is this true?

And more importantly, what does this mean from an NFL betting perspective?

With the help of our Bet Labs software, we ran the numbers to see which team has the advantage when divisional opponents meet in the NFL playoffs.

NFL Playoff Betting Trends

Since the start of the 2005 NFL playoffs, there have been 25 instances of teams from the same division facing off in the postseason, and underdogs have had the edge in these matchups.

Dogs are 14-10-1 (58.3%) against the spread (ATS) in these games, covering the number by an average of 2.2 points.

The sample is obviously a small one, which is typically the case when it comes to examining NFL playoff data, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that underdogs will continue to cover at this rate. But it is interesting to note that they have overperformed to this point.

While it still is early in the week, it is interesting to note that bettors are overwhelmingly backing the favorites in these Wild Card Round matchups – 80% of spread tickets are on the Bengals (vs. Ravens), 70% on the 49ers (vs. Seahawks) and 66% on the Bills (vs. Dolphins) per the Action Network’s NFL public betting data.

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