The First Round Bye In The NFL Playoffs

David Chan | Jan 13, 2013 | ARCHIVE

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

AFC

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

NFC

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

2009

AFC                                                                                                                        

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

NFC

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

2010

AFC

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

NFC

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

2011

AFC

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

NFC

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

2012

AFC

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

NFC

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.)