NFL Wild Card Betting Trends: How Quarterbacks Perform in Playoff Debuts

NFL Wild Card Betting Trends: How Quarterbacks Perform in Playoff Debuts article feature image
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Brett Carlsen/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills

  • Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz will make their NFL playoff debuts on Wild Card Weekend.
  • Using Bet Labs, we analyze how first-time starters perform in the postseason for bettors.

On Saturday, Josh Allen will make his NFL playoff debut when the Buffalo Bills (+3) take on the Houston Texans (4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC). Allen is not the only first-time play-caller taking snaps this postseason.

Ryan Tannehill will get his first taste of postseason action when the Tennessee Titans (+5) travel to Foxborough on Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS) to face the Patriots.

Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles are 1.5-point underdogs at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC) and Jimmy Garoppolo will make his debut in the divisional round.


Odds as of Monday at 9 a.m. ET and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


How should bettors approach these quarterbacks in their first playoff appearances?

To find out, we looked at every first-time playoff starter since 2002 when the league expanded to 32 teams and adopted the current postseason format.

In that time, 56 quarterbacks have made their postseason debuts. Twelve of them faced each other and have been excluded from our sample.

That leaves 44 first-time starters in games against an experienced playoff quarterback, which is the same scenario in which Allen and Tannehill find themselves.

So how have these quarterbacks historically performed for bettors?

Since 2002, first-time starters in the playoffs have gone 14-30 straight up (SU) and 12-31-1 against the spread (ATS) according to Bet Labs.

All quarterbacks, whether they have home-field advantage or are favored by the betting market, have let gamblers down. Passers playing at home have gone 9-18 SU and 7-20 ATS, while chalk quarterbacks are 9-14 SU and 6-17 ATS.

Underdogs (6-13-1 ATS) and road teams (5-12 ATS) have underperformed as well. Quarterbacks as road underdogs, like Allen and Tannehill, have gone 3-11 SU and 4-10 ATS. Home dogs, like Wentz, have gone 2-4 SU and ATS.

The data suggests quarterbacks making their NFL Playoff debuts do not rise to the occasion. A majority of spread tickets are on Allen and Tannehill to cover, but bettors could be disappointed.

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