Now that the first ever Week 18 of the NFL season has been completed, we have our first look at the official NFL playoff bracket. I want to help you project the possible outcomes and find value in team future bets for either the Conference Championship games or the Super Bowl.
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The NFC is the strongest division from top to bottom and the betting odds reflect that. It would not be a shock to see any of the teams, besides the Eagles, to win the NFC Championship game. Green Bay has the MVP of the league with Aaron Rodgers and home field advantage, Tampa Bay is always in it with Tom Brady, San Francisco is peaking at the right time, Dallas is playing well on both sides of the ball, Arizona is fading of late, but they have the skill players to compete in any game, and the Rams are selling out to win now.
With that being said let’s try to project the bracket and scenarios to put us in the best position to win some money come conference championship weekend.
For the following situations let’s pencil in the Buccaneers (-8.5) advancing past the Eagles and we know Green Bay is getting a 1st round bye and will face the lowest seed that advances from wild card weekend.
Reasons to bet the San Francisco 49ers this Post-Season
The 49ers have the toughest road through the division in my opinion. Dallas has an opportunistic defense leading the NFL in takeaways and we know how Jimmy G can perform at times. On the other hand, Dallas has not been clicking offensively in the last month of the season (removing the last game of the year when they had their starters playing against the Eagles reserves). If they are to advance, they would head to Green Bay to take on the Packers.
The 49ers defensive front seven has been playing better as of late and have established Deebo Samuel and George Kittle as staples in their offense attack. The Packers defense has been suspect during the last 4-6 weeks of the season and I could see the 49ers advancing in a close game in Green Bay.
If the first two games of the post season go this way, the NFC Championship game would be the easiest game that they would play in the playoffs as they would either face the Buccaneers, the Cardinals, or the Rams. The Buccaneers without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are a different team than what we have seen during the majority of the season, the Cardinals have lost 4 of their last 5 games, and the 49ers just beat the Rams in LA.
I like the value at 11:1 to win the NFC and would absolutely take a 21:1 shot at them to win the Super Bowl since the most difficult matchups would be the ones they face in the NFC.
Reasons to bet the LA Rams this Post-Season
The Rams would be the 2nd and last team that I would bet in the NFC. They have a favorable matchup through the playoff bracket especially if San Francisco is to beat Dallas in the first week. If that scenario occurs, the Rams would face the Cardinals in LA, then the Buccaneers in Tampa, and would either face the Packers in Green Bay or the 49ers back in LA for a rematch of Week 18.
There is a clean path there to get to the NFC Championship game for this team and the talent they have on this roster. I think you could also bet both the Rams and the 49ers to win the NFC Championship game because there is a possibility that these teams face each other, and you would guarantee a profit. I would bet the Rams to win the NFC at 5.5:1 and the Super Bowl at 11:1.
The AFC has talented teams but does not have the depth of talented teams like the NFC does. This division is also interesting because you can make the argument that Tennessee (1 seed) is actually the 3rd best team in the division behind Kansas City and Buffalo.
This makes projecting future matchups incredibly value when looking at teams to bet on. Tennessee will be getting Derrick Henry back from injury and have a 1st round bye, Kansas City and Buffalo have both been clicking during the second half of the season after slow starts, Cincinnati has an explosive offense but have major question marks defensively, Las Vegas does not have the playmakers or depth on either side of the ball to make a deep run in the playoffs, New England has played strong defense, while relying on a strong running game and a game managing rookie QB but questions surround if that is enough to advance deep into the playoffs, and Pittsburgh has a lethargic offense with one of the worst offensive lines in the post-season.
For the following situations let’s pencil in the Chiefs (-12.5) advancing past the Steelers and we know Tennessee is getting a 1st round bye and will face the lowest seed that advances from wild card weekend.
Reasons to bet the Kanas City Chiefs this Post-Season
The Chiefs are the betting favorite in the AFC, but I still think that there is positive value in here. Tennessee is an overvalued #1 seed and if we project a matchup against the Chiefs or the Bills, the Titans would be slight underdogs even at home. The Chiefs path to the AFC Championship game starts with the Steelers, followed by the most difficult matchup they would find in the Bills, and then find themselves in the AFC Championship game facing either the Titans, Bengals, or Raiders where they would be heavy favorites.
For the sake of projecting a situation, let’s pencil in the Bills taking down the Patriots. At this time in the season, there is value in projecting an outcome of a hypothetical Bills vs. Chiefs game and backing the winner of that game to win the AFC. Given the road to the AFC championship game and the home field scenario that would follow, I like the betting favorite as an option here at 1.75:1 to win the AFC and 5.5:1 to win the Super Bowl.
Reasons to bet the Cincinnati Bengals this Post-Season
Forecasting the matchups and comparing that to the value we are offered now is why the Bengals end up on my short list to bet. The Bengals are a near touchdown favorite against the Raiders and like I mentioned above, would avoid playing the Chiefs or Bills until the AFC Championship game (if we assume the Bills beat the Patriots). In this situation, the divisional round would be a matchup between the Bengals and Titans.
The Bengals have an explosive offense and are a threat to any team that they face given their ability to score quickly. They have one of the easiest roads to the AFC Championship game. The question at that point is can they take down the Chiefs in that hypothetical game? Possibly. What we do know is that we can get 8:1 odds on the Bengals right now and I would imagine that would turn into about 2.5:1 at the time of the game.
I like the odds to win the AFC and will sprinkle the 17:1 on the Super Bowl as well. Both the Bengals and the Chiefs have a high likelihood of not facing each other until the AFC Championship game which also is another factor in placing these two bets.
I hope this has helped you in your wagering thought process for the NFL post-season and I wish you all the best of luck in your bets!