Four meaningless weeks of preseason games followed by 17 weeks of the NFL regular season have finally given way to the start of this season’s NFL playoffs with this weekend’s Wild Card Round on Saturday and Sunday. There are 12 teams in contention for this year’s coveted Super Bowl title, but the reality is that only one will be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy late Sunday night on Feb. 4. The trick for avid sports bettors working with a few of your favorite online sportsbooks is to make the most of the next five weeks leading up to Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
While yearly staples such as New England, Pittsburgh and to a certain extent Kansas City find themselves in this year’s AFC field, there are a number of new faces throughout the ranks including the Buffalo Bills, who are making their first postseason appearance since the turn of the century. Add in Tennessee and Jacksonville out of the AFC South and half the field in this conference are new to the playoffs after combining to win a grand total of 19 games in 2016.
Over in the NFC, the only carry over from last season’s six-team playoff field is Atlanta after making a run all the way to Super Bowl LI. Philadelphia returns to the postseason as the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2013 and Minnesota, as the second seed in the conference, is back in the playoffs for the second time in three years. Carolina makes its return to the playoffs after going to Super Bowl 50 and New Orleans (4 seasons) and the Los Angeles Rams (14 seasons) are also new to the party.
All of this changeover does add a bit of uncertainly to the mix when it comes to betting on the games, especially in the Wild Card Round. One of the most important things that you can do as part of your overall handicapping efforts is to pay close attention to the line movements for any NFL playoff game. The three postseason rounds leading up to the biggest single-day betting event of the year are going to be heavily bet by both the general betting public as well any number of professional handicappers and sports betting sharps.
Gaining a solid understanding of why the lines are moving in the direction they are is just part of the equation. You also have to be aware of any differences in the actual lines from one online sportsbook to the next. When the betting action gets this hot, you can often find as much as point difference in both the pointspread as well as the total line from one book to the next. While you are probably already dialed into set sports betting outlets as far as your actual online accounts, you may want to keep an open mind about taking advantage of a betting line at another book if it happens to moves heavily in your favor.
There is always some risk involved when it comes to taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to actually placing your bets. However, a line that is moving in the direction you like could move even further in your favor as you get closer and closer to kickoff. At the other end of the spectrum, if you love a number when it is first released, you may want to jump on it right away.
The bottom line when it comes to betting on the NFL playoffs at any online sportsbook is to take a much more active role in developing a betting strategy that works for you.