After 18 long weeks, it’s finally playoff time in the NFL! Super Wild Card Weekend begins this Saturday, and FOX Sports Research brings you the best historical trends for the first round of the playoffs.
The slate begins with the Seattle Seahawks traveling to San Francisco to face the 49ers in the first matchup at 4:30 pm ET Saturday on FOX and the FOX Sports app. That game is followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Los Angeles Chargers at 8:15pm ET on Sunday with three big matchups including the New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings at 4:30pm ET on FOX and FOX. Sports application. Super Wild Card Weekend will close with a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
We took a deep dive into playoff data to identify the top trends. We’ve also looked at team- and player-specific trends, which should help inform you on who to bet on when it comes to these win-or-go-home games.
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Tom Brady is perfect against the Cowboys
Despite posting his first losing season this year at 8-9, Tom Brady has history on his side as the 45-year-old has literally never lost against Dallas in his career. Brady is a perfect 7-0 straight (SU) when playing the Cowboys, despite being 4-3 against the spread (ATS) (57.1%).
FOX Bet currently has the Cowboys as 2.5-point favorites on the road, a line that has already dropped half a point from the opening number.
Here are more TB12 nuggets from a gambling perspective:
- Brady is 3-3 ATS (50%) and 4-2 SU (66.7%) in his career wild-card round.
- Brady is 7-3 ATS and SU (70%) when an underdog in all playoff games during his career
- Brady is 15-12-1 ATS (55.6%) and 20-8 SU (71.4%) in career Monday games
- Brady is 5-5-1 ATS (50%) and 9-2 SU (81.8%) in prime-time (after 8 pm ET) playoff games over his career.
- Brady is 15-11-1 ATS (57.7%) and 22-5 S (81.5%) at home in career playoff games.
Rookies and first-time playoff quarterbacks have a tough time getting started
Only two rookie quarterbacks are making playoff starts this weekend, with Skylar Thompson and Brock Purdy suiting up for the Miami Dolphins and 49ers, respectively. Unfortunately, Thompson could be in trouble as rookie quarterbacks are 10-17 SU (37%) in the playoffs, as well as 3-11 SU (21.4%) since the 2013 season. When looking at the weekend wild card specifically, rookie quarterbacks are 4-7-1 ATS (36.4%) over the last 20 seasons. Miami is currently a 13.5 point underdog against the Buffalo Bills at FOX Bet.
However, the story might be different for Purdy. He is 4-1 ATS (80%) and 5-0 SU in his first five career starts, joining Ben Roethlisberger as the only rookies to start 5-0 since the 1970 merger. He is also only the third quarterback with multiple touchdown passes in each of his first five starts since 1950, joining Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Billy Volek. Oddsmakers believe Purdy will pull it off, as the 49ers are 9.5-point favorites at FOX Bet.
Heavy favorites dominate the wildcard round
Speaking of heavy favorites, we wanted to see how they’ve fared historically in the wild card round, as we have three teams favored by nine points or more this weekend. At FOX Bet, the Cincinnati Bengals are 10-point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers are 9.5-point favorites over the Seahawks, and the Bills are 13.5-point favorites over the Dolphins.
Here’s the breakdown of the data below:
- Double-digit favorites are 8-1 ATS and SU (88.9%) in the wild-card round since 1996
- Double-digit favorites are 9-1 ATS and SU (90%) in all playoff games since 2011
- Over nine-point favorites are 11-1 ATS and SU (91.7%) in wild-card round since 1992
- There has never been a favorite higher than 11.5 points in the wild card round: The Pittsburgh Steelers were 11.5 point favorites against the Dolphins in the 2016 wild card round, and the Chiefs were also 11 favorites, 5 points against the Steelers in the round. 2021 Wild Card Round (both teams covered)
Teams that complete a regular season sweep aren’t as great in the third matchup
Three wild-card round matchups include the third meeting between the two teams. The Bengals and Ravens, the Bills and Dolphins and the 49ers and Seahawks are playing each other for the third time this season. Only one of those matchups featured a sweep: the 49ers beat Seattle in both matchups. While it may be surprising, teams that complete a regular season sweep are just 9-9-1 ATS (50%) and 12-7 SU (63.2%) in the third matchup when it comes to the round of wildcards
Going back to the 1970 merger, teams that won the first two games of the regular season and are playing again for a third time in any playoff game they are 12-11 ATS (52.2%) and 14-9 SU (60.9%). It’s also worth mentioning that the 49ers are on a 10-game winning streak, the first time in franchise history that they’ve finished the regular season with a double-digit win streak.
History says the seven seeds will likely lose in the Wild Card
Since the 1982 season, the streak is 1-5 ATS (16.7%) and 0-6 SU in the wild-card round. The only coverage came in the 2020 season when the Chargers lost 27-24 to the Bills as 6.5-point underdogs. The seven seeds in this year’s playoff are the Dolphins (+13.5 vs. Bills) and the Seahawks (+9.5 vs. 49ers).
Historical data says the Chargers should win despite a small spread
This is interesting as the line opened at three points in favor of the Chargers, but has gone from one to three and now stands at 2.5 at FOX Bet. The matchup features two quarterbacks making their first playoffs, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence.
While it may not apply here since both quarterbacks are in the same situation, it should be noted that guys making their first playoff start are 17-36-1 ATS (32.1% ) and 18-36 SU (33.3%). including 1-4 ATS and SU (20%) last season. The only one he covered was Joe Burrow against the Las Vegas Raiders in last year’s wild-card round, going up against Derek Carr, who was also making his first playoff start.
Here’s why the Chargers are trending this weekend:
- The Jaguars are 3-10 ATS (23.1%) and 4-9 SU (30.8%) against the Chargers since 2003, including 2-5 ATS (28.6%) and 3-4 SU (42, 9%) at home.
- Jacksonville is 0-5 ATS and 1-4 SU (20%) in their last five home games against the Chargers
- Chargers are 6-2 ATS and SU (75%) in wild-card round since 1982
- Los Angeles is 3-0 ATS and 3-0 SU when playing on the road in the wild-card round since 1982
- Chargers are 7-2 ATS (77.8%) and 5-4 SU (55.6%) on the road this season
without Tua Tagovailoaaccounts should cover easily
As mentioned above, this is the largest wild card game spread ever. While Skylar Thompson did enough to get the Dolphins into the playoffs in their Week 18 start, a road game in Buffalo will be too much to overcome.
All trends point to Buffalo:
- Records are 8-5-1 ATS (61.5%) and 12-2 SU (85.7%) at home in Super Bowl-era playoffs (only losses came in 1966 and 1996)
- Buffalo is 7-5-2 ATS (58.3%) and 12-2 SU (85.7%) as a double-digit favorite under Sean McDermott
- The Dolphins are 1-3 ATS and SU (25%) on the road in the wild card round since 1995, their only shutout/win coming in 1999
- Miami is 4-8-1 ATS (33.3%) and 2-11 SU (15.4%) when underdogs in all playoff games in the Super Bowl era.
The long shots of the preseason have sneaked into the wild card round
This is more of a nugget than a trend, but we wanted to point it out. There are three teams in this year’s playoffs that entered the season with odds of 100-1 or better to win the Super Bowl: the New York Giants, Jaguars and Seahawks. There were also nine teams with a preseason over/under win total of 7.5 or less that hit the Over.
So are you ready to make some NFL Super Wild Card weekend bets? Head over to Bet FOX now for all your bets!
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