Early Wild Card Weekend Sharp Report for Colts-Bills, Ravens-Titans and Browns-Steelers

January 5, 2021 12:06 AM

Happy Tuesday! We have a loaded betting menu today with 25-plus college basketball games and 5 NBA games. For an updated breakdown of Tuesday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET. I'll also be co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3-5 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, let's discuss where early sharp money is flowing for three of the biggest NFL playoff games this weekend...

Saturday 1:05 p.m. ET: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

This AFC non-division grudge match is the first playoff game of Wildcard Weekend. The Colts (11-5 SU, 8-8 ATS) snuck into the playoffs as the 7th seed, needing a win against the Jaguars (28-14) in Week 17 and a loss from the Dolphins in order to punch their ticket to the postseason. Indianapolis won four of their last five games and finished with + 89 in point differential on the season. Meanwhile, the Bills (13-3, 11-5 ATS) posted the 2nd-best regular in the NFL during the regular season and enter the playoffs as the 2-seed. Buffalo has won six straight and just crushed Miami 56-26, winning outright as 3-point home dogs. The Bills won the AFC East and finished the regular season + 126 in point differential.

This line opened with Buffalo listed as a 7-point home favorite. The public is all over the Bills, who look like an unstoppable juggernaut. However, despite more than two-thirds of bets laying the points, we've seen this line drop to 6.5. This sharp reverse line movement signals pro money grabbing the Colts + 7. Wild Card dogs getting 7 points or less are roughly 58% ATS over the past decade. Playoff dogs that see the line stay the same or move in their favor are 57% ATS. Indianapolis is also one of the top contrarian plays of the weekend as the public is loading up on Buffalo. We've also seen some under liability. The public is hammering the over, yet the total has remained frozen at 52 or dipped slightly to 51.5. Both teams were profitable to the over during the regular season (Colts 9-7, Bills 11-4-1). But historically, outdoor playoff unders have cashed roughly 57% over the past decade.

Sunday 1:05 p.m. ET: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

This early Sunday showdown is a rematch of last year's Divisional Round, which saw 6-seed Tennessee shock the 1-seed Baltimore 30-24. The Ravens (11-5 SU, 10-5-1 ATS) caught fire down the stretch, winning their last five games to earn the 5-seed. Baltimore finished with a + 165 point differential, best in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Titans (11-5 SU, 7-9 ATS) won the AFC South and went 3-1 down the stretch, earning the 4-seed.

This line opened with Baltimore listed as a 3.5-point road favorite. The public is laying the points with the red-hot Ravens, yet this line has remained frozen at 3.5. In fact, many books are juicing up the Titans + 3.5 (-115), signaling some Tennessee liability and a possible fall down to the key number of 3. Tennessee has value as a contrarian home dog and a playoff dog in which the line stays the same or moves in their favor (57% ATS the past decade). Pros and Joes seem to be united on this over, driving the total up slightly from 54.5 to 55. Jerome Boger, the lead ref, has been profitable for home teams (56% ATS) and overs (60%). The Titans were the top over team in the regular season (12-3-1). The Ravens were 7-9 to the under.

Sunday 8:15 p.m. ET: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

This primetime Sunday night showdown is the final game of Wild Card Weekend. The Browns (11-5 SU, 6-10 ATS) enter as the 6-seed and are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Cleveland finished the regular season with a -11 point differential, the worst of any playoff team this season. On the flip side, the Steelers (12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS) started 11-0 but stumbled down the stretch, going just 1-4. Still, Pittsburgh earned the 3-seed and finished with a + 104 point differential. These two teams met last week, with the Browns winning 24-22 but the Steelers covering as 10-point road dogs. Pittsburgh rested most of their starters in that game, including Big Ben.

This line opened with Pittsburgh listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. Pros and Joes have both sided with the Steelers, driving this line up to -4.5. Historically, when a line moves at least 1-point toward a team in the playoffs, those teams have covered at a 58% clip over the past decade. Cleveland has value as a contrarian divisional dog in a primetime game with an inflated line. We've also seen some under money show up, dropping this total slightly from 47 to 46.5. Wild Card unders are roughly 64% over the past decade, with outdoor unders roughly 57%. The Browns were 9-7 to the over this season and the Steelers were 8-7-1 to the over.

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