How to Bet the NFL Playoffs
You have spent all year analyzing stats, adjusting power ratings, identify motivational edges, and the like. Now, it is playoff time. The stakes are raised for the players, teams, sportsbooks, and bettors. We outline the differences between the regular season and the playoffs and highlight the key concepts to focus on when deciding what to bet on.
Attack the Derivative and Prop Market
With less games, the bookmakers and sharps have more time to analyze the game. Because of this, the lines get extremely sharp and the market becomes more efficient. Bettors should be hesitant to play sides and totals and focus more of their attention on the derivative and prop markets.
Throughout the year, the sportsbooks continuously misprice lines due to their inability to factor in motivation. If the bettor can handicap when a team will be hyper-focused on a game and when teams will be disinterested, they can find hidden value to exploit. Perhaps this has never been more true than with the College Football Bowl Season. However, in the NFL Playoffs every team's motivation is heightened. In the win or go home format, there is not wiggle room for taking a play off or overlooking an opponent. With the coaches and players totally focused, the motivational angle is irrelevant in the playoffs.
There is a reason the New England Patriots have been so successful over the last two decades. It is true that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been transcendental and that the combination of the two has proven to be an all-time formidable opponent, but the experienced they have garnered throughout their dynastic run is a built in advantage that no other team can compete with. The Patriots organization has established a culture through winning. Although all the players, with the exception of one, has changed since their first Super Bowl, the Patriots have compiled a portfolio that has seen and overcome almost any obstacle. No matter what is thrown at them, the Patriots always seem to have an answer. When all factors are equal, side with the experience team.
On an average NFL Weekend, there may be upwards of 16 NFL games. Most bettors have action on multiple games. Come the playoffs, at most, there are four games. This downshift is the equivalent of spending hours on the highway before exiting to a residential community. Lowering your speed or number of bets can be extremely difficult exercise, but it is a necessary one. It is ok to pass a game or even a weekend if there is no value to be had. Don't squander an entire season of due diligence because of a high volume betting habit.