The NFL Wild Card weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year, as it typically produces some of the most "fun" games in NFL history.
However, the Divisional Round weekend continually has some of the highest-quality games every season. That should be the case as the top-four teams during the regular season will all be in action.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, the home-field advantage matters more than it does in any other week. For starters, teams with the home-field advantage in this game didn't have to play in the previous week. They are typically well-rested and healthy, and that is why the higher seeds usually advance.
And that leads to the next point. Not only are these teams fresher, but they are almost always the better team, as they finished as one of the top two teams in the conference during the regular season. That is why it is tough to bet against a better and fresher team in Round 2 of the playoffs, and top NFL bookmakers are aware of that.
While we just laid out the case as to why it is so hard to beat the home teams in the divisional round of the playoffs, it doesn't mean they will always play perfect games. In fact, a lot of these games tend to start sloppy despite the quality of teams on the field.
Most teams that secure a first-round bye haven't played a meaningful game in several weeks, and that often means some slow starts as the teams shake off the rust. As you make your bets for the week, consider taking the under in the first quarter or half as the home team gets back up to speed.
If an upset is going to happen in the playoffs, it's likely going to occur in the Wild Card round. As for the divisional round, there is typically too many things working against the road team (almost always the underdog) to pull off the upset.
That doesn't mean it never happens, but don't count on more than one or two to occur during this weekend. If you are going to parlay games during this week, it's okay to pick the favorites to cover or the moneyline. Most of the time, you'll be glad that you did.
Anytime I bet on a game, the tiebreaker for me will always be "which quarterback do I trust the most?" Anybody who has bet on football before knows the feeling of betting on a team with the lesser quarterback.
Betting against a Tom Brady- or Drew Brees-caliber of quarterback is one of the most agonizing things in sports. With the NFL being such a passing league, I always want the best quarterback on my side, especially on a stage like the Divisional playoffs.
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