Happy Wednesday! We have another packed betting menu today with roughly 35 college basketball games and 11 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 be joining The Lombardi Line at 12:25 p.m. ET to offer a market update. I'll also be co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3-5 p.m. ET.
In yesterday's newsletter, we discussed sharp action for the three AFC Wild Card matchups. Now let's discuss where the money is flowing for the three NFC games:
Saturday 4:40 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
This NFC West showdown between division rivals is the middle game of Saturday's tripleheader. The Rams (10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS) squeaked into the playoffs as the 6-seed, beating the Cardinals 18-7 as 1-point home favorites in the regular season finale. Los Angeles finished + 76 in point differential on the season. The Rams will lean on the coaching on Sean McVay and their stellar defense as they once again turn to rookie John Wolford in place of the injured Jared Goff. Wolford won his debut over Arizona last week, throwing for 231 yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception and rushed for 56 yards. Meanwhile, the Seahawks (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS) finished the regular season on a high-note, winning four straight and beating the 49ers 26-23 in Week 17, although they failed to cover as 7-point road favorites. Seattle won the NFC West and earned the 3-seed, finishing + 88 in point differential for the season. This line opened with Seattle listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. This public is laying the short spread with Russell Wilson at home. However, we've seen a sharp move to the road dog, with the Rams falling from + 4.5 to + 4. Some shops are even touching 3.5. Playoff dogs with a line move in their favor of at least a half-point are roughly 75% ATS over the past decade. The Rams also have value as a divisional dog and a dog with a low total. The total has dipped slightly from 43 to 42.5. Both of these teams were profitable to the under this season, with the Rams 12-4 and Seahawks 9-7. John Hussey, the lead ref, has historically favored unders (57%). Outdoor playoff unders are roughly 57% over the past decade. The Seahawks beat the Rams 20-9 in Week 16. Los Angeles beat Seattle 23-16 in Week 10.
Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team
This primetime non-conference matchup is the late game on Saturday night. Tom Brady has led the Buccaneers (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Tampa Bay played their best football down the stretch, winning their final four games and waxing the Falcons 44-27 in Week 17, easily covering as 7-point home favorites. Tampa enters as the 5-seed and finished + 137 in point differential. Meanwhile, Washington (7-9 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) snuck into the playoffs by beating the Eagles 20-14 in Week 17, although they failed to cover as 6.5-point road favorites. Washington went 5-2 down the stretch and won the NFC East, earning the 4-seed. This line opened with the Bucs listed as a hefty 7.5-point or 8-point road favorite. The public is absolutely hammering Brady and the Bucs, expecting an easy win and cover. This lopsided action moved the line up to Tampa -9. That's when we saw some buyback on Washington, dropping the line back to 8.5. Washington is your top contrarian play of the weekend as they are only receiving about one-third of bets in a primetime game. Big playoff dogs of + 7 or more are roughly 57% ATS over the past decade. Tampa Bay is in prime teaser territory. If you drop them from -8.5 to -2.5 you pass through two key numbers (7 and 3). We've also seen some under money show up, dropping the total from 46.5 to 45. The Bucs are 9-7 to the over this season, but Washington is 10-5-1 to the under. This under matches a pair of profitable playoff systems: outdoor unders and Wild Card unders that drop (roughly 60% over the past decade).
Sunday 4:40 p.m. ET: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
This NFC late-afternoon Sunday showdown features the biggest spread of Wild Card Weekend. The Bears (8-8 SU, 8-8 ATS) got crushed by the Packers 35-16 in Week 17, failing to cover as 4.5-point home dogs. However, Chicago still snuck into the playoffs as the 7th and final seed thanks to a tie-breaker over the Cardinals. Chicago finished the regular season + 2 in point differential, second worst of all playoffs teams ahead of only Cleveland (-11). Meanwhile, the Saints (12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) won the NFC South and finished tied for the second-best record in the conference, trailing only the Packers. New Orleans crushed Carolina 33-7 in Week 17, easily covering as 6-point road favorites. The Saints finished + 145 in point differential, best in the NFC. This line opened with New Orleans listed as a 9.5-point home favorite. This public is all over the Saints and happy to fade Mitchell Trubisky. This lopsided support has pushed the line up to the key number of 10. We've seen some buyback on the Bears at + 10, with juice hinting toward a possible drop back to 9.5. Chicago has value as a contrarian playoff dog with an inflated line. Big playoff dogs of + 7 or more are roughly 57% ATS over the past decade. We've also seen some under money hit the market, dropping the total from 47.5 to 47. The Saints were 10-6 to the over this season, with Chicago 8-8. Playoff dome game overs are roughly 70% over the past decade. The big question mark here is Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Both are questionable.