Betting on the NFL playoffs is a completely different animal than betting on the regular season. There is a more concentrated betting slate, which often forces even more action onto the games, and there is also a lot more energy put into these games by both teams.
These changes can seem small, but they need to be understood to gain the edge necessary.
Understand The Coaching Matchup
Coaching is a huge topic in the NFL every single week because the coaches’ decisions are constantly on display. You can constantly judge these coaches by what they do on a week-to-week basis, but I think that the coaching matchup is even more important in the postseason.
While coaches are always in charge of the gameplan leading into a game, we often see more drastic and unique things pulled out in the postseason by the best teams in the league.
There are a lot of examples of this happening in the past, and I think understanding these possibilities before they happen are really important.
In the 2018 postseason, we saw the Los Angeles Chargers bring out a defensive lineup that included five to six defensive backs to stop Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ new and creative offense. Going into this game, I really liked the Chargers because I just believed that there was potential to attack the Ravens offense in unique ways when forced to come up with a gameplan in a must-win contest.
While this understanding was not certain, and it is very possible that the Chargers just played the game straight up, I thought that there was more potential for the Chargers to come out with a unique gameplan that would completely neutralize the betting line. I did not predict that the Chargers would do this, but I knew that there could be some strange answers to a strange offense when a team faced them in a must-win spot.
This assumption will not always come to fruition, but there was a general advantage to betting the Chargers in that spot because of the unknown that came with defending Jackson.
Now, the situation that I explained is not super common, and it will not always show up, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot always find coaching advantages. I generally try to attack the team with the best matchups due to the focus on that one game.
In the regular season, coaching staffs are often more worried about getting better and developing than they are winning based on their best matchup advantage.
The best way to attack this is simply to put more weight into the best spots in the matchup. Every week, we look at exploiting matchups, and I want to attack these even more in the playoffs because teams are more focused on winning that game than developing a more well-rounded team.
Don’t Force It
The best and most consistent NFL bettors in the world probably bet much less than most people think because they only attack the biggest edges on each slate. While it’s not easy to pass on an entire week of NFL playoff action, sometimes that is the best option.
There is often a lot of action on these small two- and four-game playoff slates, and that can easily make the lines really sharp. Now, this concentration on a small number of games will also force a lot more public betting, which helps stop betting syndicates from moving the line on their own like they do in Week 13 in a random Sunday afternoon game.
Do not force yourself to bet on all four games just because you are going to sit down on the couch and watch all four. If you are going to do this regardless of it being smart or not, at least make sure that you attack the best possible bets in a game.
This means that you should look into totals, halftime spreads, prop bets, and anything else that you could gain an edge on that is not the simple spread, which is always the most bet-on option in a game.
Understand The Lines
The playoffs often bring in a lot more public attention, and this can often swing the line a bit towards the public’s ideology. The public loves to bet on favorites, and they love to bet on overs, and this is still the case in the playoffs.
Now, Vegas is very aware of this, and this is generally priced into lines by bookmakers before they can even be bet on. The issue with baking this into the lines is that there is still a ton of action from betting syndicates, who will attack these weak lines even more if they price in too much public money.
I would never make a decision based on this inflation, but it is something to be aware of when looking at these betting lines. This is something that is always really popular when we talk about the Patriots under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and their impact as a “public team.” Betting on the Patriots is always this taboo thing since there is a general understanding that they are getting too much respect compared to their overall roster talent and play.
I would never suggest blindly fading a public team, but understanding that public teams exist, especially in the postseason, can help your bets moving forward. When I initially like a line against a public team, I typically feel a tad bit better because I know that I am often getting half a point to two points based on the public team getting too much respect in the markets.
At the same time, you need to be a bit more confident in these public teams when you are attacking them, understanding that you may be getting an inflated line. While an inflated line is never a fun bet, this does not mean that you should immediately avoid these spots. I have no issue with taking on these inflated lines with public teams, but you just need to understand the risk leading into the bet.