Handicapping NFL Playoff Games Today


After an exciting Super Wild Card Weekend, NFL playoffs continue on Sunday with four Divisional Playoff matches between Andy Reid’s Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles – including an intriguing matchup pitting Andy Reid against Nick Foles of Philly Eagles.

Samford takes on Furman in another intriguing Southern Conference matchup that I expect will be intense and closely contested. Still, I predict Samford will emerge victorious after a highly competitive contest that should prove extremely interesting and unpredictable.

1. Head-to-head record

As the Major League Baseball playoff picture emerges, the Yankees have taken steps towards becoming AL East leaders while holding onto the final wild card slot. Still, much can happen between now and Oct 3, so head-to-head records should be considered during tiebreaking procedures.

If two teams end the regular season tied for a division title or wild-card playoff berth, the head-to-head record is usually used as the tiebreaker between them. If no clear victor can be identified between these clubs, a record against teams within their division is used instead. Ideally, whichever club has played more games will win over their counterparts in terms of record against division rivals and claim victory as the tiebreaker winner.

Tiebreakers are also employed to determine seeding in the playoffs. The team with the higher regular-season seed is given home-field advantage in the opening round; lower-seeded teams travel to face the winner of another conference’s Wild Card Game for their opening-round matchups. Only the top three seeds qualify for league championship series play, and winners from divisional playoffs advance to the NBA’s All-Star Game.

Once known for using one-game playoffs to settle ties in the NFL, those events were not considered part of the regular season and did not count towards their overall record. However, the league has adopted a formula to break ties for qualification and seeding, which involves several complex calculations; should any tie result from all these criteria, a coin toss will determine its impact.

2. Trends

The NFL regularly tweaks its playoff format in an attempt to keep competition fiercer and entertainment higher, and 2022 saw perhaps its most significant change yet: teams that finish 10 or 11 wins during regular season play now have a greater chance at making the postseason than in years prior if their division loses, thus emphasizing the need for handicappers to identify betting edges in each game and exploit them effectively.

There are various angles of betting to keep an eye out for in divisional playoff games since 2008. One such trend has teams’ ability to convert third-down opportunities, as evidenced by their 24-22 record but 29-25-1 mark against the spread since ’08. Additionally, teams that make fewer mistakes have gone 29-10-1 against the spread in this round since 2008.

Another critical point in this weekend’s games is that three out of the four feature teams meeting again this season; specifically, the Bengals and Ravens, Bills and Dolphins, and 49ers and Seahawks have each split their previous encounters this year, providing great potential value for those bettors seeking overs.

Finally, teams should take note of their defensive scoring edge when making playoff predictions. Since 2008, those allowing fewer points per game during regular season play have gone 26-22 against the spread (ATS), and 19 of those matches featured an over score. One such team, the Celtics, has seen great results when key contributors like big man Aron Baynes play; these games were 38-16-2 (58.3%) to under, and 19 matches ended up paying off when Aron Baynes played.

3. Strengths

Strengths can make or break a playoff run for any team, acting as the key factors a player or coach uses when making decisions during games – this is especially relevant during playoffs, where regular season records don’t matter nearly as much.

This weekend marked the official start of the 2023 NFL playoffs with several marquee games: The New York Giants routed the Minnesota Vikings, while the Dallas Cowboys trounced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Whether playing fantasy football or betting on games, understanding each team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical to capitalizing on potential game scripts or matchups. Even if you don’t support the Chargers moving past wild-card weekend, don’t neglect do-it-all running back Austin Ekeler – who finished as the top running back in half-point PPR scoring during regular season play – could make an impactful contribution during playoff games like this one.

The National Football League uses an exciting single-elimination playoff format in which teams first play at their respective home stadium in a first-round game before traveling away for their second-round contest at their opponent’s stadium. Each conference’s top seed receives a first-round bye in the playoffs until Super Bowl time, giving teams time to rest before those critical playoff matches that determine who goes all the way. This helps teams ensure their health is in peak condition for crucial games like these during postseason playoffs. However, the single-elimination format can also lead to some unpredictable situations. This is particularly the case when two teams meet again in a subsequent playoff round because each side will want to win and eliminate their rival from contention.

4. Weaknesses

With the NFL postseason underway, coaches and front offices are scouring the league in search of potential trades or free-agent signings that may help shore up weaknesses on teams; additionally, they’re taking an inventory of their own team’s strengths and weaknesses to evaluate.

Regarding weaknesses, the Eagles struggle to defend against run plays (24th overall in the NFL). Although this area of concern has improved over time, it could reappear during playoff season play-offs.

The Cardinals rank 29th in second-level run defense (29th) and are somewhat too forgiving regarding third-level rushes (30th). Although likely related to their reduced schedule, this area still presents room for improvement.

On defense, the Vikings tend to rely heavily on cornerback Marcus Peters and Patrick Robinson for pass rush opportunities; together, they have recorded 36 pressures and nine sacks since Week 5. Unfortunately for them, performance against Dallas should likely not change much from week 1.

On the other hand, Bengals defensive players can adapt quickly to limit the impact of explosive pass-rushers with man coverage and limited damage from explosive pass-rushers. Their first in Defensive Passing DVOA, they excel in defining targets with their secondary. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie stands out among cover corners as one of their best and could make all the difference against Josh Allen.

Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce are arguably the Chiefs’ greatest strengths, connecting for 110 passes this season and likely providing plenty of yardage against Jacksonville’s subpar defense. If their defensive unit can limit big plays against them in this matchup, the Chiefs should easily win this contest.

5. Predictions

Predictions for playoff games typically rely heavily on offensive production; however, defensive dominance should also be considered. The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals boast strong defenses but could not contain backup quarterbacks during wild-card victories last week. Both should be able to hold their own against the Green Bay Packers, but perhaps their home-field advantage gives the latter a slight edge in this contest.

The Minnesota Vikings have taken some time to gain prominence but are quickly emerging as one of the top teams in the NFL today. Their defense is formidable, their running game impressive, and Kirk Cousins’ arrival has played a major role in helping Minnesota take a significant step forward this year. This matchup should prove further proof of that fact.

This matchup should be an exciting and close contest between two of the league’s premier teams. Patrick Mahomes remains undefeated in postseason play and appears headed toward another MVP season, while Brock Purdy has performed admirably since becoming the starting quarterback of the 49ers. Model predictions favor Mahomes and his Chiefs; however, I expect this will be a close game that could go either way.

The Chargers boast one of the top defenses in the league, but an explosive Dolphins offense with plenty of playmakers and scoring ability will test their strength. Miami will likely start third-string rookie Skylar Thompson at quarterback; however, even he won’t be enough to stop San Diego from scoring points during this contest. Home-field advantage and superior talent should help the Chargers emerge victorious, but it won’t come easy.