The NFL playoffs are here and if Saturday’s games were any indication, bettors should expect another wild ride Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals host the San Diego Chargers
These teams already faced each other once this season and after a slow first-half the Bengals got their offense untracked to win 17-10. Including that win the Bengals were 5-1 SU/ATS down the stretch with 5 overs and 1 under, scoring an average of 32.7 points per game (PPG). NFL odds makers have listed Cinci as a 7-point favorite in this contest and the total is currently sitting at 46 or 46.5 as the betting public waits on the weather. The latest forecast is calling for a mix of rain and snow this morning with temperatures crawling into the upper 30’s by kickoff. It’s going to be a wet day at Paul Brown Stadium with winds from the south around 10-15 mph.
For a bunch of west coasters the Chargers have been fairly strong “Over” play in their eastern Time Zone starts with 13 of 19 games landing on the high side since Week 16, 2008. You can count the times San Diego didn’t score at least 20 points on one hand and up until the loss in Miami this season (Week 11), the poor games for the Bolts were either in the first-half of the season or against non-Conference foes. In conference games from Week 13 out the Bolts are 6-0 O/U and they cleared the total by an average of 12.7 PPG. Their lowest point production was in 2008 when they “only” scored 24 points on the road against Pittsburgh (playoffs). The game went “Over” the total by 20.5 points. Check out the stats on those six games with this handy SDQL betting link from SportsDatabase.com:
SDQL: team = Chargers and date >= 20081221 and AC and o:time zone = E and week >= 13
Since losing to Cinci the Chargers have won four-straight and while it’s worth noting that three of those four games were at home, we should point out that playoff road teams in this spot have still produced a record of 16 overs and 13 unders in this spots since 2001. What’s interesting here is that the Bengals finished with three of four at home and clubs in this spot are 42-24 O/U (64-percent) when hosting a foe off a home game since 2010.
We’ve had a lot of success this season charting games back to 2010 because that’s when the league-wide scoring increases really started to develop. While it is still valuable to research games from the past 10 or even 15 years, the NFL has morphed into a scoring machine the past few seasons as penalties and instant replays take their permanent place. Injuries are also given much greater attention and as you could see during the Chiefs-Colts and Saints-Eagles games on Saturday, even players who want to go back into the game are not always given the green light. It leaves defenses outmatched in a lot of cases and while it is impossible to predict injuries, the likelihood is still worth considering.
TRENDS WITH BENEFITS
Further the point of Cinci’s home-heavy finish the season we noticed that games with a total of 47 or less were strong “Over” plays including a 6-0 O/U mark this season. Home faves in this pointspread range had a hard time covering the number ATS (4-8) but the “Over” cashed 10 of 12 times, or 83-percent since 2010.
The Chargers (32:59) led the league in time of possession this season and playoff teams in this spot with a total greater than 44 have a record of 12 overs and 4 unders (75-percent). Road teams who lost a previous matchup during the season were 0-11 O/U if they had committed three-plus turnovers in the first meeting but FYI – That system was also “live” on the Kansas City at Indianapolis game yesterday so we’ll disregard it for now.
NFL WILD CARD PICKS
Andy Dalton look ready to take his next step but teams who were perfect at home during the regular season have struggled in their playoff debut thanks to an over-inflated number. San Diego has stressed its run game after being held to just 89 yards the first game against Cinci and the results have been good. The Bolts are hitting for 164 average rushing yards since then and while we’d be shocked to see them hit that mark today, with Phil Rivers under center you only need the run game as a compliment, not a focus. It’s cool and wet today at Cinci but somehow we don’t think that will stop these two teams from hitting the mark. Shop around but remember, gameday line movement is usually to the high side and getting in at less than 47 could make a big difference.
Pick: Take the OVER 46