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NFL Playoffs Live Betting: How We Live Bet the Divisional Round on Saturday

NFL Playoffs Live Betting: How We Live Bet the Divisional Round on Saturday article feature image
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Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Dallas Goedert (right).

The NFL Divisional Round is our last chance at some Saturday football for the season, and we’ll be looking to make the most of it.

Live betting the playoffs is a unique challenge, as by definition, only teams with solidly winning records are left. It’s easy to get misled by pace stats with those teams — for example, all eight remaining teams play slower in the second halves of games.

That’s largely because they’ve spent most second halves protecting leads, but they can’t all be ahead this time. Therefore, we’ll be looking more at things like pass rate over expectation, and trailing vs. leading splits in our analysis.

Here are the live betting angles we’re watching on Saturday.

The Live Bets to Watch For on Divisional Round Saturday

Eagles-Giants:  Second Half Unders With an Eagles Lead (LIVE BET MADE)

This is probably the last chance for our favorite live betting spot. Philadelphia was favored by more than a touchdown against their divisional rival Giants, but a hypothetical matchup with either the Cowboys or 49ers would be much closer.

We know the drill by now — Philadelphia is the fastest first half team in the league, but has the 26th-ranked pace in the second halves of games. This is largely due to their offense dominating the early going, before playing ball control football as the games progress.

They also feature the best passing defense by DVOA, while coming in 21st against the run. That significantly lowers the scoring chances of their opponent once they’re forced to shift more passing heavy.

We want to be slightly more cautious with this one in the playoffs, meaning an even bigger Eagles lead before we assume they slow things down. Still, they were likely to get to that threshold at some point or another, even if it wasn’t right at halftime.

Philadelphia’s fourth consecutive touchdown (to zero points for the Giants) lifted the total in this one all the way to 52.5 at some books before halftime, a number that we could have comfortably considered for our live under bet in this situation.

People must have felt the same, as that quickly came down to 48.5 before the break, which was a bit low. By the end of halftime, though, that was at 49.5, and we are willing to take that live under.

This week, I was also live with Nick Giffen at halftime of the Eagles-Giants game for “Bet What Happens Live With Dr. Nick!” We broke down all the potential live spots, including player props.

On the player prop side, Dr. Nick and I agreed on Saquon Barkley over 27.5 rushing yards, even with the Giants down so badly. New York isn’t going to pass on every down, after all. We’re also on Daniel Bellinger under 14.5 receiving yards.

As for anytime TD scorers, we liked a half unit on Daniel Jones at +400 and a full unit on Saquon Barkley at +300.

The Live Bet We Already Made on Saturday

Jaguars-Chiefs:  Unders With a Chiefs Lead (LIVE BET MADE)

This was a bit counterintuitive, as the Chiefs hardly vary their pace regardless of circumstance. Whether it’s a close game, they’re up big, or trailing. They snap the ball once (on average) between 27 and 28 seconds.

The Jaguars follow more traditional pace splits,  speeding up considerably when trailing (24.4 seconds per play) and slowing down with a lead (30.89). Therefore, this game will play about three seconds slower per play (relative to a close game) with the Chiefs behind, and three seconds faster with the Chiefs in front.

The Chiefs are only up seven, and considering they have the ball to start the second half, this is a more comfortable lead than the number implies. But we are targeting unders with a Chiefs lead due in large part to the injury to Patrick Mahomes. Even if Mahomes plays in the second half, Kansas City likely tries to protect him by leaning more heavily on the run (and short throws).

Under 50.5 is even money on FanDuel. That’s our first live bet of the divisional round.

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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