The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs is finally here! Many are calling it the best weekend of the season, and looking at the matchups, this weekend should live up to it.
As for last week, Super Wild Card Weekend was full of surprises. The Jacksonville Jaguars upset the Los Angeles Chargers despite being down 27-0. The underdog New York Giants stunned the Minnesota Vikings. The Miami Dolphins nearly upset a Super Bowl favorite in the Buffalo Bills. But the big standout was Tom Brady, who eventually took his first career loss against the Dallas Cowboys, losing 31-14 in what was a blowout for most of the game.
Looking ahead, FOX Sports research looked at how teams fared against the spread (ATS) and straight-up (SU) in various situations in the divisional round. Let’s dive into the betting trends that stood out.
The 49ers and Cowboys meet again
For the second consecutive postseason, the San Francisco 49ers and the Cowboys will face off. It’s also the ninth time these two teams have met, tied for the most frequent matchup in NFL postseason history (Green Bay Packers vs. 49ers and Los Angeles Rams vs. Cowboys).
In last season’s matchup, San Francisco covered and won outright 23-17 as 3.5-point underdogs in the wild-card round. The story is a little different this year, as the 49ers enter this matchup as the favorite. They are coming off an 11-game winning streak (including Saturday’s wild-card win), one win shy of the second-longest regular season and postseason winning streak in franchise history. FOX Bet currently has the 49ers as 3.5 point favorites.
Here’s a breakdown between the two:
- The 49ers are 3-5 ATS and SU (37.5%) against the Cowboys in all playoff meetings in the Super Bowl era, but have won and covered in the two most recent meetings (the year’s wild card past and the 1994 NFC Championship Game)
- San Francisco is 7-1 ATS (87.5%) and 6-2 SU (75%) in the divisional round since 1997, with the Under hitting in five of those games.
- The 49ers are 5-1 ATS and SU (83.3%) in all home playoff games since 2003, with the Over hitting in four of those games.
- The Cowboys are 3-3 ATS (50%) and 1-5 SU (16.7%) on the road in all playoff games since 2003, with the Under hitting in four of those games (the first win in this period he was free on Monday. -round letter)
- Dallas is 2-5 ATS (28.6%) and 0-7 SU as an underdog in all playoff games since 1993, with the Under hitting in four of those games.
- Cowboys are 2-5 ATS (28.6%) and 1-6 SU (14.3%) on the road in the divisional round since 1980
Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs should dominate
After a first-round bye, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are 8.5-point favorites against the Jaguars at FOX Bet.
The AFC South champions completed the third-largest comeback in playoff history against the Chargers, erasing a 27-point deficit. However, history says the Chiefs should win comfortably in what will be their first playoff meeting against Jacksonville on Saturday. Mahomes is also coming off a career season, throwing for 5,250 yards and 41 touchdowns, both regular season bests.
Here’s a look at the trends we’ve found that point to head coverage:
- Mahomes is 7-4 ATS (63.6%) and 8-3 SU (72.7%) as a career playoff starter.
- Mahomes is 3-1 ATS (75%) and 4-0 SU as a starter in the divisional round in his career.
- Mahomes is 11-6 ATS (64.7%) and 17-0 SU as an eight- to 10-point favorite in his career (regular season and playoffs)
- Chiefs are 13-10 ATS (56.5%) and 19-4 SU (82.6%) as an eight- to 10-point favorite under Andy Reid (regular season and playoffs)
- Kansas City is 4-1 ATS (80%) and 5-0 SU against the Jaguars under Andy Reid
- Chiefs are 7-2 ATS and SU (77.8%) vs. Jaguars since 2005
- Andy Reid is 10-10 ATS (50%) and 13-7 SU (65%) as a career home playoff favorite (Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles)
Underdogs cover in the divisional round
No matter what time period you look at, historically underdogs cover the divisional round. Although they don’t win at a high rate, they consistently cover the spread, which is very important to players.
Here’s a breakdown of how the underdogs perform ATS in this round:
- Since 2020, underdogs are 5-3 ATS (62.5%) and 4-4 SU (50%) in the divisional round, with the Under hitting in five of those games.
- Since 2010, underdogs are 24-22-2 ATS (52.25%) and 15-33 SU (31.3%) in the divisional round, with the Over in 29 of those games.
- Since 2000, underdogs are 45-40-3 ATS (52.9%) and 29-59 SU (33%) in the divisional round, with the Over hitting in 46 of those games (a push)
- Since 1995, underdogs are 54-50-4 ATS (51.9%) and 35-73 SU (32.4%) in the divisional round, with the Over in 55 of those games.
The underdogs on the road board in the divisional round
Speaking of barking dogs, since the 2003 season, road underdogs specifically have done very well ATS, going 39-29-1 ATS (57.4%) in that span. They’ve also won 25 of those 69 games (36.2%), which is a remarkably high rate when looking at 19 seasons of data.
Road underdogs at FOX Bet this week include the Jaguars, Giants, Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals.
The story goes that Daniel Jones, the Giants should cover
The Giants are on a Cinderella run, considering they are led by a first-year head coach in Brian Daboll and also received a 6.5 over/under preseason win total at FOX Bet. Not only did they record nine regular season wins, but the team also defeated the NFC North champion Vikings in the wild card round. New York entered this game as underdogs as Minnesota was 13-4 entering the postseason. Much of the Giants’ success has been attributed to the improved play of Daniel Jones, who posted career highs in passing yards, rushing yards and touchdowns.
Jones also has a stellar record when playing on the road and as an underdog in his career. The Giants are 7.5-point FOX Bet underdogs against the top-seeded Philadelphia Eagles this weekend. The following numbers include Jones’ playoff debut against the Vikings, in which the Giants were underdogs on the road:
- Jones is 17-5 ATS (77.3%) and 7-15 SU (31.8%) as a starter when a career underdog.
- Jones is 27-15 ATS (64.3%) and 15-26-1 SU (36.6%) as a starter when a career underdog.
- Jones is 18-7 ATS (72%) and 9-16 SU (36%) as a starter when playing on the road in his career.
More hits in the divisional round
Not much to dive into here as the numbers speak for themselves below. The Over has reached 51% or higher when looking at every five-year span since the 1990 season:
- Since 2015: Most hits in 15 of 28 Divisional Round games (53.6%)
- Since 2010: Most hits in 29 of 48 Divisional Round games (60.4%)
- Since 2005: over hit in 37 of 68 divisional round games (54.4%)
- Since 2000: Most hits in 46 of 88 Divisional Round games (one drive) (52.9%)
- Since 1995: Most hits in 55 of 108 divisional round games (one drive) (51.4%)
- Since 1990: Over hit in 67 of 127 Divisional Round games (one drive) (53.2%)
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No. 1 seeds dominate this round but struggle to cover
Fading the 1 seed in terms of spread coverage seems to be the play when looking at the data, despite their SU dominance. However, it is worth noting that the 2-seed has consistently covered since 2000, as shown below:
- Since 2010, the top seed is 9-13-2 ATS (40.9%) and 16-8 SU (66.7%) in the divisional round, with the Over in 13 of those games.
- Since 2000, the top seed is 18-24-2 ATS (42.9%) and 30-14 SU (68.2%) in the divisional round, with the Under in 24 of those games .
- Since 2010, the No. 2 seed is 14-10 ATS (58.3%) and 18-6 SU (75%) in the divisional round, with the Over hit in 16 of those games.
- Since 2000, the 2 seed is 23-20-1 ATS (53.5%) and 30-14 SU (68.2%) in the divisional round, with the Over hit in 26 of those games
The preseason long shots continue to roll
We mentioned this in last week’s trending piece and wanted to bring it up again as the preseason long shots continue to roll into this year’s playoffs. Both the Giants and Jaguars were given odds of 150-1 or more to win the Super Bowl before Week 1 of the season. Each team will now face the #1 seed in their respective conferences. This is the first time two teams with odds of 150-1 or more have made the divisional round since 1980, from our Super Bowl preseason odds data.
So you’re ready to lay down some NFL division–round bets? Head over to Bet FOX now for all your bets!
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