top of page
  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

2019 NFL Championship Round: One More Dance for Cinderella

We see these teams' ability as being closer than the betting public might estimate. Accordingly, we are backing the underdogs cover. So while Tennessee's Cinderella-story might be on its last page straight up, we see scope for one last dance ATS.

Tennessee's path to the Kansas City has been rocky. It included a trip through New England (perennial contender country in the Brady/Belichik era) and then a tour of the mean streets of Baltimore (before the playoffs started, the Ravens were the big favorites to hoist the Lombardi trophy; further, New Orleans' unexpected exit in the Wildcard Round boosted those odds slightly).

Proving that the so-called 'Volunteer State' too breeds toughness, the Titans went to Foxborough Stadium as 4.5-point dogs and convincingly snapped the Pats' string of nine straight runs to the Divisional round. The Pats!! This throttling spawned conversations about whether Tom Brady's sun is finally setting--for real this time.

The Titans then traveled up the Eastern coast to Mobtown as 10-point underdogs and upended the 12-game winning streak for Lamar Jackson and company that had bred the highest of expectations for Baltimore's season.

We think the magic can last a while longer, versus the number at least. On paper we can make the case that Tennessee's defense-adjusted offense was only about 10% worse than Kansas City's in the regular season. Given the variability that occurs in any given week, we deem this differential small enough to support the road cover today.

Per Football Outsiders DVOA, based on regular season performance, the Chiefs boast a 54.7% edge throwing the ball against the Titans (compared to meetings between average NFL offenses and defenses), but are 14% worse than average rushing> These figures sum to a 40.7% net offensive rating facing Tennessee.

The Titans' advantage passing the ball is 20.3% over average against the Chiefs, but the Titans are expected to be 13% better on the ground than average too, for a defense-adjusted passing plus rushing rating of 33.3% versus Kansas CIty

In this context, KC's 40.7% is not a million miles away Tennessee's 33.3% rating, as the Chiefs' second half performance last week might lead the betting public to think (62% of ATS bets tracked by The Action Network are down on the home team).

The tightening of the spread recently from the opening level of Chiefs -7.5 down to -7 likewise supports the notion of the underdog cover, per data from BetLabs Sports. Since 2003, line movement away from the favorite in the NFL playoffs has indeed been a profitable indicator of underdog's ATS potential. Bettors heeding these signals have amassed a whopping 44% return on investment.

We note though that, back to at least 2008, favorites are 2-0 SU in instances when the line moved against them in the Championship Round. More broadly, favorites of at least a touchdown are 6-2 SU in the third round of post-season NFL play. This is to say that while this Cinderella might manage one more dance, the clock does appear ominously close to striking midnight. We are backing the dogs to cover, but aren't counting on the straight up win.

Happy betting!!

bottom of page