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NFL Playoffs: How We’re Live Betting the Wild Card Round on Sunday

NFL Playoffs: How We’re Live Betting the Wild Card Round on Sunday article feature image
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Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: J.K. Dobbins (right).

It’s the NFL Wild Card Round, which means plenty of live betting opportunities. The NFL Playoffs schedule works out well for live bets, with only one game happening at a time and a full season of data for each team.

That means reasonably predictable tendencies, which helps us tremendously when evaluating spots as they come up. One important lesson we learned from Saturday: Teams should continue to stay more aggressive with leads than in the regular season.

Sunday gave us three more chances to right the ship, though. Here’s how we were looking to attack.

The Live Bet to Watch For on Wild Card Sunday Night

Bengals-Ravens:  Overs With a Bengals Lead

This is the likeliest scenario, with the Bengals favored by 8.5 against the Tyler Huntley-led Ravens.  Fortunately, it’s also the biggest edge.

The Bengals don’t really slow things down regardless of game script. They’ve actually played slightly faster on average with a lead than when trailing this season. They have the second-highest pass rate over expectation (PROE) in the NFL this season, trailing only the Chiefs.

Joe Mixon and their ground game has been generally inefficient this season, with Mixon averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Therefore, it’s easier to close games out with Joe Burrow and the passing attack, with their 7.4 yards per attempt.

On the Baltimore side, they rank 25th in overall pace, 22nd in situation neutral pace … and number two when trailing by seven or more.

Therefore, we’ll be looking for a comfortable Bengals lead (7+ with the ball/next possession after the half or 14+ with Ravens possession) and a total lower than the pregame 40.5. Whenever we get both of those things, we’ll take our shot — regardless of when in the game that happens.

Pick: Live Overs With a Bengals Lead


The Live Bets We’ve Already Made on NFL Wild Card Round Sunday

Bills-Dolphins:  Late Unders Was The Plan, But … (LIVE BET MADE)

The pace splits were all pointing down here, provided this game followed the expected script. The Bills were favored by 14 or so, as the Dolphins roll out third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson. Pregame, we thought this should be a fairly comfortable Buffalo win.

These teams both play slower in the second halves of games, Miami plays relatively slower when trailing, and Buffalo’s slowest pace ranking is with a lead. All arrows are pointing the same way here.

Here’s the catch, though: Buffalo generally stays far more aggressive than other teams until the game is truly out of hand. They continue to throw the ball deep into games, long past when other teams would’ve begun to kill the clock.

Therefore, we were looking to bet some unders, but only once this game is truly out of reach. We just saw a 20-point second half comeback last night, so we’re going to have a fairly high bar here.

And because of that high bar, we’ve decided to pivot, live betting the over of 49.5. This was a one-score game all of a sudden, with the Dolphins set to get the ball to start the third quarter. Between the drops and the promising drives that ended in field goals, the Dolphins should have more points than they currently do on the board.

We wanted to take this before the Bills final drive of the first half, which could drive the total up a bit higher.

Giants-Vikings:  Overs in a Close Game (LIVE BET MADE)

This one was pretty straightforward. Both the Giants and Vikings rank quickest in pace when the game is within seven points in either direction, with Minnesota having fairly extreme splits.

What that tells us is that neither team deviates much from their usual rhythm based on the game script. They have their plans, and they stick to them. Where the edge (potentially) manifested was if sportsbooks adjusted their lines based on how teams usually behave.

This one has been a shootout so far, but the game has remained close. With Minnesota starting with the ball in the third quarter, it should fit the “close game” narrative for at least a few more possessions. We’ll take a chance on the live over at 56.5.

How We Approach Live Betting in General

The NFL is perfect for live betting, with the pauses between plays providing plenty of time to get bets in. This season, I’ve built a model to project the pace of play under a variety of in-game scenarios. These include first vs. second half, as well as which team is leading or when the game is within a touchdown.

The primary benefit is for betting totals. If the game is going to be faster or slower than was assumed pregame, the application is obvious. Faster-paced games tend to produce more points.

Player props also present some interesting opportunities. Sportsbooks are offering a variety of live player props, and faster or slower than expected games create obvious opportunities.

Take a look around various books before placing bets, though. There tends to be more variation between shops in live markets than there is pregame.

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