Saturday was a massive day for sharps and contrarians as NFL underdogs went a perfect 3-0 ATS to open Wild Card Weekend. In the early game, the Colts (+ 6.5) lost to the Bills 27-24 but covered the spread. The public was all over the Bills, yet Indianapolis received sharp reverse line movement in their favor (+ 7 to + 6.5). In the middle game, the Rams (+ 3) upset the Seahawks 30-20, cashing + 150 on the moneyline. Los Angeles received strong and consistent sharp action from open to close, falling from + 4.5 to + 3. In the finale, Washington (+ 10) lost to the Bucs 31-23 but managed to cover the big spread. Washington cashed as an inflated contrarian dog, moving from + 7.5 to + 10 thanks to heavy public action on the Bucs and Alex Smith being a late scratch due to injury.
With dogs going 3-0 ATS yesterday, dogs are now an incredible 15-1 ATS over their last 16 Wild Card games.
Saturday wasn't all bad for the public. Although not a single chalk favorite covered, overs swept the board and went 3-0.
Wild Card Weekend resumes today with three more big matchups. For extensive Sunday betting analysis and line move updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 10 a.m.-noon ET on The Lombardi Line. We'll also be joined by Mike Palm, Amal Shah, Thomas Gable and William Hill.
Until then, let's discuss where respected money is going for today's three playoff games...
1:05 p.m. ET: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
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 crushed Cincinnati 38-3 in Week 17, easily covering as 13.5-point road favorites. The Ravens 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. Tennessee won a 41-38 thriller over Houston in Week 17, although they failed to cover as 7-point road favorites. The Titans finished + 52 in point differential for the season.
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 we've seen this line stay at 3.5 or fall to the key number of 3. The number has been ping-ponging back from 3.5 to 3 for much of the week. Pros have pounced on Tennessee getting the hook (+ 3.5). Once it has fallen to 3, we've seen some buyback on Ravens -3. However, all liability has been toward Tennessee. This line never went to 4. Instead, it is either staying the same or going down, which indicates Titans respected action. Tennessee has value as a contrarian home dog and a playoff dog in which the line stays the same or moves in their favor (59% ATS over the last decade). Jerome Boger, the lead ref, has historically favored home teams (56% ATS).
4:40 p.m. ET: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
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-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. 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 sharp over money hit the market, driving the total up slightly from 47.5 to 48. Indoor playoff games have gone over roughly 70% of the time over the past decade. Alvin Kamara (COVID-19) and Michael Thomas (ankle) are both expected to play today. The Saints are 10-6 to the over this season. Chicago is 8-8.
8:15 p.m. ET: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
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 targeted the Steelers early, driving this line up to -4.5. But then on Tuesday morning news broke that head coach Kevin Stafanski and several other players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, this line skyrocketed to Steelers -6. 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. Pittsburgh will be a very popular teaser play this weekend, as you could move Pittsburgh from -6 down to a pick'em. Cleveland has value as a contrarian divisional dog in a primetime game with an inflated line. We've also seen over money flood the market, driving the total from 46.5 to 47.5. The Browns were 9-7 to the over this season and the Steelers were 8-7-1 to the over. Both teams will be down their top corners due to COVID-19 (Denzel Ward and Joe Haden).