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NFL Playoff Odds: Most Appealing Early Lines in Divisional Round

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 12:  Running back Ryan Mathews #24 of the San Diego Chargers runs for a 23-yard touchdown during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on December 12, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 27-20. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Now is a great time for bettors to make some money in the 2014 NFL playoffs with the divisional round on the horizon.

The Wild Card Round is a bit too uncomfortable to bet on with a vote of confidence. Dangerous teams like the San Diego Chargers seemingly hit the road and upset a favorite like the Cincinnati Bengals each year.

The divisional round is easier to project. What's not to like about top seeds coming out sluggish after a week off and being forced into a bout with a hot team that just got a big win to stay alive?

This early in the week is an especially strong time for bettors. Lines at this point are just asking to be taken advantage of by bettors who have done their due diligence on each matchup. Two in particular stick out. 

Away Team Home Team Line Prediction (ATS)
New Orleans SaintsSeattle SeahawksSEA -8NO
Indianapolis ColtsNew England PatriotsNE -7NE
San Francisco 49ersCarolina PanthersSF -2CAR
San Diego ChargersDenver BroncosDEN -10SD
Vegas Insider

 

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks (-8)

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 04:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 4, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Gett
Elsa/Getty Images

Bettors have known this one was in the cards for quite some time. It just felt like fate, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees concurs, as he told the media after their first bout, per Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune:

We know they are a team we are going to have to deal with in the future. We are going to have to find a way to play better against these guys when that time comes [...] Nothing we did offensively was right, we really couldn't get anything going.

It is hard to imagine many bettors were burned by the contest to which Brees refers. The Saints went to CenturyLink Field in Week 13 and were crushed by the Seattle Seahawks, 34-7.

This time the line is a bit trickier. Duncan put it best:

It seems reasonable at first glance, especially when one takes into account the outcome of the last meeting between these sides and the fact Seattle has been able to rest an extra week.

Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) attempts to break the tackle of Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin (98) during the first half 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financ
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

But these Saints surely burned more than a few bettors in the Wild Card Round, as they went to Philadelphia a hefty underdog. After all, all five of the Saints' losses had occurred away from home, and there was still a negative stigma about the New Orleans defense.

Well, the Saints held the Eagles to 256 total yards and escaped with a 26-24 win.

The Saints are on a revenge path, this time with the Lombardi Trophy in their sights. This game will be much closer than the current odds project, so throw some cash down and rest easy.

 

San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos (-10)

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 12:   Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts to a second quarter call during their game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 12, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

San Diego is not the team to bet against at this juncture.

It is impossible to guess how much cash the Chargers have lost bettors in recent weeks, so let's just call it a lot. Philip Rivers and the Chargers are shockingly the NFL's hottest team and ride a five-game win streak into their bout with the Denver Broncos.

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 12:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos is swarmed by defensive end Kendall Reyes #91  and linebacker Thomas Keiser #90 of the San Diego Chargers as he throws a pass during a game at Sports Authority Field Field at
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Which, by the way, is a rematch of a Week 15 showdown bettors would surely love to forget. San Diego made the trip to Denver and won, 27-20.

The line here is simply too much. When these two met in Week 10, it was just an eight-point victory for Denver.

Things are much different now. The Chargers just rushed for 196 total yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round on the way to a 27-10 win. Not only did the Bengals enter that game with a top-five run defense, but they were also 8-0 on the year at home before San Diego came to town.

Now let's sprinkle in some history, via NFL AM, and it is easy to see why bettors should take advantage of this line:

The matchup seems overwhelmingly in Denver's favor, but it is time to ride the hot hand. The Chargers will do right by bettors given the immensity of this line.

 

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