The NFL postseason is here.
Historically, we've seen underdogs perform well in the postseason. Over the past decade, regular season dogs have covered at a 51.4% clip. In the playoffs, dogs bump up to 55% ATS. In other words, dogs bark 3.6% louder in the postseason.
With this fact in mind, let's discuss where the action is flowing for today's Wild Card doubleheader...
4:30 p.m. ET: Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
The Raiders (10-7 SU, 8-9 ATS) were once left for dead but won four straight down the stretch to sneak in as the 5-seed. The Raiders just upset the Chargers 35-32, winning outright as 3-point home dogs. Meanwhile, the Bengals (10-7 SU, 10-7 ATS) are the 4-seed and won the AFC North. Cincinnati rested their starters in Week 18, losing to the Browns 21-16 but covering as 6.5-point road dogs.
This line opened with the Bengals listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public is laying the points with Burrow at home. However, we've seen this line fall from 6.5 to 5.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on Vegas, with pros grabbing the points with the road dog. Playoff dogs are 61-50 ATS (55%) over the past decade. Playoff dogs against teams who missed the playoffs the previous season are 20-10 ATS (67%). Playoff dogs with a line move in their favor are 28-8 ATS (78%).
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
These AFC East rivals trended in opposite directions down the stretch. The Patriots (10-7 SU, 10-7 ATS) lost three of their last four and just fell to the Dolphins 33-24, losing outright as 6-point road favorites. On the flip side, the Bills (11-6 SU, 9-6-2 ATS) ended the regular season with four straight wins, including a 27-10 win over the Jets in the finale, covering as 16-point home favorites.
This line opened with Buffalo listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. The recency-biased public is happy to lay the short number with the Bills at home. Early in the week, we saw this line fall from 4.5 to 4. Over the past 24-hours some Bills -4 buyback hit the market, driving the line back up to 4.5. The Patriots have value as a divisional playoff dog (8-4 ATS, 67% the past decade). The Pats also have value as a divisional dog in a low total game. New England could have some teaser value as well (+ 4.5 to + 10.5), which goes through the key numbers of 3 and 7. The forecast calls for bitter cold (5 degrees) along with mild 5 MPH winds. The public is betting the over, yet the total has actually risen from 43.5 to 44, signaling some "cold weather" contrarian over money.