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NFL Betting Tip: How to Take Advantage of Surprise Playoff Teams

Dec 31, 2018 10:05 AM EST

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky

  • The Chicago Bears are 5.5-point favorites over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round on Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC).
  • Chicago won 12 games this season, a seven-win improvement from 2017.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze how surprise NFL playoff teams have performed against the spread.

Few expected the Chicago Bears to make the playoffs before the season began. Bookmakers gave Matt Nagy’s team 6-1 odds to reach the postseason, an implied probability of 14.3%.

The Action Network’s NFL simulations were even less optimistic about the Bears, giving Mitchell Trubisky a 5.5% chance of leading the team to the playoffs.

Despite the lack of hype, Chicago has defied the odds. On the strength of the league’s No. 1 defense, according to Football Outsiders DVOA, and a balanced offense helmed by an improving Trusbiksy, the Bears will play past Week 17 for the first time since 2010.

Chicago won 12 games after notching just five victories in 2017. This is the franchise’s first winning season since 2012.

Heading into Wild Card Weekend, the Bears will try replicate the Philadelphia Eagles’ success from a season ago and become the second team in consecutive years to win the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in its division the previous season.

Expectations are high in Chicago. The Bears are 9-1 to win the Super Bowl and one of just five teams with better than 10-1 odds. Chicago also opened as a 7-point favorite over Philly on Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC).

The betting market likes the Bears’ chances of advancing to the divisional round and making a run to Atlanta for the Super Bowl, but history suggests the team could struggle after a dramatic year-to-year improvement.

Chicago saw its win total jump by seven games from 2017 to 2018. Since 1990, 25 other franchises enjoyed a win total improvement of seven or more games from one season to the next.