The First Round Bye In The NFL Playoffs
Question: It's just common sense to believe that a first round bye in the NFL playoffs is a good thing, right? The extra week off to prepare, coupled with friendly confines has to be an advantage both for the team AND for bettors.
Or is this "tried and true" handicapping angle just "smoke and mirrors"?
Let's take a look over the last five years to find out:
2008 Opponent/Result Divisional Round SU ATS
Tennessee Titans L 10-13 vs Baltimore 3 pt fav L L
Pittsburgh Steelers W 35-24 vs San Diego 6.5 pt fav W W
New York Giants L 11-23 vs Philadelphia 4 pt fav L L
Carolina Panthers L 13-33 vs Arizona 10 pt fav L L
Indianapolis Colts W 20-3 vs Baltimore 6.5 pt fav W W
San Diego Chargers L 14-17 vs NY Jets 7.5 pt fav L L
New Orleans Saints W 45-14 vs Arizona 7 pt fav W W
Minnesota Vikings W 34-3 vs Dallas 2.5 pt fav W W
New England Patriots L 21-28 vs NY Jets 9.5 pt fav L L
Pittsburgh Steelers W 31-24 vs Baltimore 3.5 pt fav W W
Atlanta Falcons L 21-48 vs Green Bay 1 pt fav L L
Chicago Bears W 35-24 vs Seattle 10 pt fav W W
New England Patriots W 45-10 vs Denver 14 pt fav W W
Baltimore Ravens W 20-13 vs Houston 7.5 pt fav W L
Green Bay Packers L 20-37 vs NY Giants 8 pt fav L L
San Francisco 49ers W 36-32 vs New Orleans 3.5 pt dog W W
Denver Broncos L 38-35 vs Baltimore 9 pt fav L L
New England Patriots W 41-28 vs Houston 9.5 pt fav W W
Atlanta Falcons W 30-28 vs Seattle 1 pt fav W W
San Francisco 49ers W 45-31 vs Green Bay 3 pt fav W W
Totals: 12 SU W's/8 SU L's 11 ATS W's/9 ATS L's
Conclusion: Don't believe the hype!
Over the last five years, attaining a first round bye is not as advantageous as we've collectively been led to believe, especially for the bettor.
(It's interesting to note: if a team that's earned a first-round bye loses SU, it also loses ATS. And if it wins SU, it also wins ATS. The only time in the last five years that this trend was broken was in 2011 when the Baltimore Ravens beat the Houston Texans 20-13 SU, but failed to cover the 7.5 point spread.)
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