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  • Writer's picture@WizeOwlSports

NFL 2022 Divisional Round: Dallas Cowboys @ San Francisco 49ers

Fading the 49ers after a tremendous run: Cowboys +4 -120

The 41-23 thumping doled out to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs marked the 11 consecutive straight up win for the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers (the Niners are 9-2 against the spread over this span). We backed the San Francisco for the ATS win last week, but are going the other way in Divisional Round action, as history suggests tougher sledding is likely for rookie QB, Brock Purdy, and the red and gold.

The angle indicated in the graphic above has been good for an eye-popping long-term return on investment of 71% (statistically significant at the 99% confidence level), and has NEVER suffered a losing season.

Explaining the otherworldly success of this system, we believe casual bettors' recency bias, as documented, for instance, by Durand, Patterson & Shank (2021), causes mom & pop gamblers to flock to teams that experienced success of late, causing bookmakers to shade lines and creating value with the opposition. As support for this hypothesis, we note that The Action Network reports that 60% of ATS wagers they track are backing the 49ers.

But in addition to the aforementioned system that suggests fading San Francisco versus the number is the play Sunday, we have also observed a basis for backing the Cowboys.

As with the angle described earlier, this system has likewise proven highly profitable (good for a no less ridiculous 42% return on investment over the lookback period—statistically significant at the 95% confidence level). Further, this set of criteria has submitted losing seasons only four times over the last 18 years.

Broadly speaking, underdogs have demonstrated an edge in post-season proceedings, covering 55% of playoff games since 2003-04 (118-96-4 ATS). This latter system offers evidence of a momentum or, the "hot hand" effect, at least in limited circumstances, which meaningfully amplifies the profitability of point-takers beating the number in the NFL Playoffs.

Given these compelling precedents for America's Team to secure the cover Sunday, we are backing the Cowboys at better than the key three level (we bought the hook to get to +4, but are comfortable with the listed line of +3.5).

As of the time of this writing, 74% of dollars staked against the spread are behind Dallas, per data tracked by The Action Network. Consistent with the funds flows, the spread has tightened from an opening level of +4.5 to as low as +3.5, but has since rebounding back to +4. Inclined bettors might be best served by buying the bounce.

Happy betting!!


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