Divisional Playoffs dividing bettors for Sunday games
The Cleveland Browns are 10-point underdogs as Sunday’s Divisional Playoff game at Kansas City approaches, and the largest spread line of the weekend is dividing bettors.
The Chiefs (14-2) are coming off a bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. They’re rested and playing host to a Browns team still managing its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.
However, Kansas City has failed to cover the spread in eight consecutive games. The Chiefs are being backed by 59 percent of the spread handle at BetRivers.com and 52 percent at DraftKings, but only 42 percent at FanDuel as of Friday.
Bettors are showing much more confidence in the Chiefs’ moneyline, backing them with 89 percent of the handle at -500 at FanDuel and 89 percent at DraftKings. BetRivers.com is offering Kansas City at -480, which is being backed by 86 percent of the handle.
The Over/Under has been set at 57 percent by all three sportsbooks. The Over is being backed by 89 percent of the handle at FanDuel, 85 percent at BetRivers.com and 83 percent at DraftKings.
The Browns are coming off an explosive 48-37 upset of Pittsburgh in the wild-card round, which elevated them into Sunday’s game.
Despite sitting out the Jan. 3 setback to the Los Angeles Chargers, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped engineer a 14-2 season for Kansas City while passing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns. He will square off against Baker Mayfield as they reprise their old Big 12 shootouts.
The Chiefs scored at least 31 points in each of their postseason wins a year ago. Travis Kelce, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 1,416 receiving yards, also sat out the defeat against the Chargers, which snapped a 10-game Chiefs winning streak.
The final game of the Divisional Playoffs will feature future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and Drew Brees going toe-to-toe in what could be another shootout.
DraftKings and FanDuel have both set the Over/Under for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints game at 52, with the Over being backed by 81 percent of the handle at the former and 83 percent at the latter.
Brees’ Saints are 3-point favorites at all three books.
New Orleans swept the regular-season series, but the Bucs are being backed by 63 percent of the spread handle at BetRivers and 56 percent at FanDuel.
The action is more divided at DraftKings, where the Saints are backed by 51 percent of the spread handle. However, the Bucs (+175) are backed by 75 percent of the moneyline handle. Tampa Bay is being backed by 72 percent of the moneyline handle at BetRivers at +155, and 68 percent at FanDuel at +148.
New Orleans is the only team to have defeated Brady twice in the same season.
The Saints ruined Brady’s debut with the Buccaneers after 20 seasons in New England when they prevailed 34-23 in the season opener in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
They handed Brady the worst loss of his career when they completed the season-series sweep with a 38-3 rout in Tampa on Nov. 8.
Now the stakes are higher, as the winner will earn a trip to the NFC Championship on Jan. 24.
“When the playoffs come and you’re playing a division opponent like this,” Saints coach Sean Payton said, “it’s a whole new season. It’s entirely different.”
Much of the attention leading up to the game will be on Brees and Brady, the two most productive passers in NFL history. This will be the last time they face each other, if Brees retires after this season.
The Saints’ defense was perhaps the most important factor in winning the first two games. They intercepted Brady twice in the first meeting, including one that Janoris Jenkins returned for a touchdown. And they intercepted him three times in the second meeting.
Brees had six touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two meetings.
For the season, Brady has passed for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has just seven interceptions against teams other than New Orleans.
Since the second loss to the Saints, the Bucs have averaged 34.6 points per game.
–Field Level Media