The first round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs is over, and of the four contests on the docket, three were upsets.
On Saturday afternoon, the Buffalo Bills nearly made it four of four, losing to the Texans in overtime after Deshaun Watson did an epic phase change and emerged intact and on his feet after a tag-team high-low flying ninja blitz somehow didn’t decapitate him on the field of play.
After that, the Texans kicked a field goal, covered the spread at some books and pushed at others, and punched their ticket to Round 2.
The Saturday night game, while not the biggest upset of the first round, was perhaps the start of an upsetting time in New England, as the Patriots – favored by five against the Tennessee Titans – lost in what could be Tom Brady’s final game with the team.
Of course, we’ve heard this before. It could just as well mean that Brady and Belichick will win their seventh Super Bowl together next season.
Then there was the New Orleans Saints game.
Favored at -8 on the spread and -400 straight up against the Minnesota Vikings, Brees and Company played some pretty bad football and let the Vikes stay close. In the end, of course, the Saints lost on a blatant pass interference non-call for the second time in as many years.
As long as Sean Payton is the head coach of New Orleans, you probably shouldn’t bet on them to win it all, obvious league directives being what they obviously are.
The final game of Round 1 was particularly interesting, as it was an upset in name only, because the sportsbooks got it so wrong. They had the 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles at -2 over the 11-5 Seattle Seahawks.
Going into Wild Card Weekend, bookmakers in Philadelphia and across the rest of the eastern US figured that the Philly faithful would take the worse team, odds be damned. They didn’t. So the bookies needed the Eagles to win to avoid dipping into the red. Unfortunately, Philly lost by eight, and local books learned a valuable lesson about setting lines to coax a hometown response in their favor.
At any rate, that’s where things stand going into the second round of the NFL Playoffs, and there seems little chance that this weekend’s matchups will yield as many upsets.
The favorites are all overwhelmingly strong on paper, they’ve each had an extra week to rest, and home-field advantage is worth at least a point or so on the spread. (Of course, the three clubs upset this past weekend were all playing at home, too…)
2020 NFL Playoffs Odds – Divisional Round
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-7.0)
- Moneyline: Vikings +255, 49ers -310
- Total: O44.0 (-105), U44.0 (-115)
The Vikings are the sleeper team of these playoffs, but the 49ers should prove a (Golden Gate) bridge too far. Still, after beating New Orleans in Round 1, Minnesota proved it can ball with the best of them. 49ers on the moneyline.
Tennessee Titans At Baltimore Ravens (-9.0)
- Moneyline: Titans +325, Ravens -450
- Total: O47.0 (-105), U47.0 (-115)
Ravens by 30.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5)
- Moneyline: Texans +330, Chiefs -460
- Total: O51.0 (-115), U51.0 (-105)
Somehow, this game has a bigger spread than the Titans-Ravens tilt, which seems like it’s going to be a wipeout of epic proportions. Meanwhile, the Texans have a legitimate superstar quarterback in Watson, and while he likely won’t be able to air out four or five TDs like the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes seems primed to do, Houston should keep this thing respectable at least. Chiefs to cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-4.0)
- Moneyline: Seahawks +165, Packers -190
- Total: O47.0 (-105), U47.0 (-115)
For bettors, this is the toughest call in the divisional round. The Seahawks just beat a decent(ish) Eagles team, but the Packers are a different beast, especially at Lambeau in January. That said, Green Bay is also the quietest 13-3 team ever, and bettors are clearly cool on the club.
By all rights, an injury-depleted Seattle team shouldn’t even be in the mix right now, but people have lots of questions about Green Bay’s talent. If you absolutely have to bet on this one, take the home team straight up.
In addition to the above game lines, the best USA sportsbooks sites also have conference championship odds and Super Bowl 54 futures posted. These are going to change as the weekend’s games approach, so if you see a line you like, jump on it ASAP.
2019-2020 AFC Championship Odds
- Baltimore Ravens -140
- Kansas City Chiefs +170
- Tennessee Titans +900
- Houston Texans +2000
2019-2020 NFC Championship Odds
- San Francisco 49ers -120
- Green Bay Packers +275
- Seattle Seahawks +550
- Minnesota Vikings +600
Super Bowl 54 Odds
- Baltimore Ravens +185
- San Francisco 49ers +300
- Kansas City Chiefs +325
- Green Bay Packers +700
- Seattle Seahawks +1100
- Minnesota Vikings +1200
- Tennessee Titans +1800
- Houston Texans +3500