NFL Playoff Betting Strategy: The Spread Value of Byes & Home-Field Advantage in the Divisional Round
Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes
- The Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers and Packers will all play at home following an extra week of rest in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.
- Using Bet Labs, we analyze against-the-spread records for teams with home-field advantage and first-round byes.
The Ravens, Chiefs, 49ers and Packers will begin their marches to the Super Bowl in the Divisional Round. All of these top seeds have a decided advantage over their opponents.
These higher seeds have the benefit of playing at home and an extra week of rest to prepare for their opponents. These advantages have proven significant in the postseason.
Since 2003, home teams in the NFL have gone 2,454-1,837-8 (57.2%) straight up (SU) in the regular season per Bet Labs. In the playoffs, teams with home-field advantage have won 61.9% of their games (99-61 SU).
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In the Divisional Round, home teams are even better at 43-21 (67.2%) SU during this time.
Extra rest helps, too. In the regular season, teams with eight or more days between games have gone 749-738-3 (50.4%) SU, but in the playoffs these teams are 83-58 (58.9%) SU including 45-28 (61.6%) SU in the second round.
Of course, winning is not the same as covering. Teams with home field and a first-round bye in the Divisional Round might be more likely to advance to the conference championships, but has that translated to success for NFL bettors?
NFL Playoff Betting Tip: Divisional Round Byes & Home-Field Advantage
Since 2003, home teams in the playoffs are 73-83-4 (46.8%) against the spread (ATS). In the Divisional Round, home teams, which includes every team with a first-round bye, have gone 27-36-1 (42.9%) ATS.
In 64 of the Divisional Round games in our database, the home team has been favored in 61 (95.3%). Recreational bettors like wagering on favorites and oddsmakers know this, which leads to inflated lines for the home team.
This is one of the reasons that it has been profitable to fade home teams coming off a first-round bye in the Divisional Round.
Road teams in the Divisional Round have gone 36-27-1 (57.1%) ATS since 2003.
Divisional Round Matches:
- Vikings +6.5 at 49ers (Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET, NBC)
- Titans +9 at Ravens (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS)
- Texans +9.5 at Chiefs (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS)
- Seahawks +4 at Packers (Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, FOX)