Best NFL playoff betting trends: Bet on Tom Brady vs. Cowboys, more


After 18 long weeks, it’s finally playoff time in the NFL! Super Wild Card Weekend commences this Saturday, and FOX Sports Research has you covered when it comes to the best historical trends for the first round of the playoffs. 

The slate kicks off with the Seattle Seahawks traveling to San Francisco to face the 49ers in the first matchup at 4:30 pm ET Saturday on FOX and the FOX Sports App. That game is followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Los Angeles Chargers at 8:15 pm ET Three great matchups then will take place on Sunday, including New York Giants squaring off against the Minnesota Vikings at 4:30 pm ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App. Super Wild Card Weekend will come to a close with a marquee matchup featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

We did a deep dive into playoff data to identify the best trends. We also looked at team- and player-specific trends, which should help inform you on who to bet on when it comes to these win-or-go-home games.

Time to have some fun and make some money!

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Tom Brady is perfect against the Cowboys

Despite recording his first losing season at 8-9 this year, Tom Brady has history on his side, as the 45-year-old has literally never lost to Dallas in his career. Brady is a perfect 7-0 straight up (SU) when playing the Cowboys, despite being 4-3 against the spread (ATS) (57.1%). 

FOX Bet currently has the Cowboys as 2.5-point favorites on the road, a line that has already dropped a half-point from the opening number. 

Here are more TB12 nuggets from a gambling perspective:

  • Brady is 3-3 ATS (50%) and 4-2 SU (66.7%) in the wild-card round in his career
  • Brady is 7-3 ATS and SU (70%) when an underdog in all playoff games during his career
  • Brady is 15-12-1 ATS (55.6%) and 20-8 SU (71.4%) in Monday games in his career
  • Brady is 5-5-1 ATS (50%) and 9-2 SU (81.8%) in prime-time (after 8 pm ET) playoff games over his career
  • Brady is 15-11-1 ATS (57.7%) and 22-5 S (81.5%) at home in playoff games in his career

Rookies and quarterbacks making first playoff start struggle

Only two rookie quarterbacks are making a playoff start this weekend, with Skylar Thompson and Brock Purdy suiting up for the Miami Dolphins and 49ers, respectively. Unfortunately, Thompson could be in trouble, as rookie quarterbacks are a whopping 10-17 SU (37%) in the playoffs, as well as 3-11 SU (21.4%) since the 2013 season. When looking at wild-card weekend specifically, rookie quarterbacks are 4-7-1 ATS (36.4%) over the last 20 seasons. Miami is currently a 13.5-point underdog against the Buffalo Bills at FOX Bet. 

However, the story might be different for Purdy. He is 4-1 ATS (80%) and 5-0 SU in his first five career starts, joining Ben Roethlisberger as the only rookies to start 5-0 since the 1970 merger. He’s also just the third quarterback with multiple touchdown passes in each of his first five starts since 1950, joining Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Billy Volek. Oddsmakers think Purdy will get it done, as the 49ers are 9.5-point favorites at FOX Bet.

Large favorites dominate in the wild-card round

Speaking of large favorites, we wanted to see how they have fared in the wild-card round historically, as we have three teams favored by nine or more points this weekend. At FOX Bet, the Cincinnati Bengals are 10-point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers are favored by 9.5-point over the Seahawks and the Bills are 13.5-point favorites over the Dolphins. 

Here’s the breakdown of the data below:

  • Double-digit favorites are 8-1 ATS and SU (88.9%) in the wild-card round since 1996
  • Double-digit favorites are 9-1 ATS and SU (90%) in all playoff games since 2011
  • Favorites of nine-plus points are 11-1 ATS and SU (91.7%) in the wild-card round since 1992
  • There has never been a favorite larger than 11.5 points in the wild-card round – the Pittsburgh Steelers were 11.5-point favorites against the Dolphins in the 2016 wild-card round, and the Chiefs were also 11.5-point favorites against the Steelers in the 2021 wild-card round (both teams covered)

Teams that complete a regular-season sweep are not so great in the third matchup 

Three matchups in the wild-card round feature the third meeting between the two teams. The Bengals and Ravens, the Bills and Dolphins and the 49ers and Seahawks are all playing each other for the third time this season. Only one of those matchups featured a sweep: The 49ers beat Seattle in both matchups. While it might be surprising, teams that complete a regular-season sweep are just 9-9-1 ATS (50%) and 12-7 SU (63.2%) in the third matchup when it comes in the wild-card round. 

When going back to the 1970 merger, teams that won the first two games in the regular season and play again for a third time in any playoff game are 12-11 ATS (52.2%) and 14-9 SU (60.9%). It should also be mentioned that the 49ers are on a 10-game win streak – the first time in franchise history they have ended the regular season on a double-digit win streak.

History says the seven seed will likely lose in the Wild Card

Since the 1982 season, the seven seed is 1-5 ATS (16.7%) and 0-6 SU in the wild-card round. The only cover came in the 2020 season when the Chargers lost 27-24 to the Bills as 6.5-point underdogs. The seven seeds in this year’s playoff are the Dolphins (+13.5 vs. Bills) and the Seahawks (+9.5 vs. 49ers). 

Historical data says Chargers should win despite a small spread

This is an interesting one, as the line opened at three points in favor of the Chargers but has flipped-flopped from one back to three and now currently sits at 2.5 at FOX Bet. The matchup features two quarterbacks making their first playoff starts, in Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence. 

While it might not be applicable here since both quarterbacks are in the same situation, it should be noted that signal-callers making their first playoff start are 17-36-1 ATS (32.1%) and 18-36 SU (33.3%) – including 1-4 ATS and SU (20%) last season. The only one to cover was Joe Burrow against the Las Vegas Raiders in last year’s wild-card round, who faced Derek Carr – who was also making his first playoff start.

Here’s why the trends like the Chargers this weekend:

  • Jaguars are 3-10 ATS (23.1%) and 4-9 SU (30.8%) vs. the Chargers since 2003, including 2-5 ATS (28.6%) and 3-4 SU (42.9%) at home
  • Jacksonville is 0-5 ATS and 1-4 SU (20%) in their last five home games vs. the Chargers
  • Chargers are 6-2 ATS and SU (75%) in the wild-card round since 1982
  • Los Angeles is 3-0 ATS and 3-0 SU when playing on the road in the wild-card round since 1982
  • Chargers are 7-2 ATS (77.8%) and 5-4 SU (55.6%) on the road this season

Without Tua Tagovailoa, the Bills should cover easily 

As mentioned earlier, this is the largest spread in a wild-card game ever. While Skylar Thompson did enough to get the Dolphins into the playoff in his Week 18 start, a road game in Buffalo will be too much to overcome.

All the trends point towards Buffalo:

  • Bills are 8-5-1 ATS (61.5%) and 12-2 SU (85.7%) at home in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era (only losses came in 1966 and 1996)
  • Buffalo is 7-5-2 ATS (58.3%) and 12-2 SU (85.7%) as double-digit favorites under Sean McDermott
  • Dolphins are 1-3 ATS and SU (25%) on the road in the wild-card round since 1995, their lone cover/win came in 1999
  • Miami is 4-8-1 ATS (33.3%) and 2-11 SU (15.4%) when road underdog in all playoff games in the Super Bowl era

Preseason long shots have snuck their way into the wild-card round

This is more of a nugget than a trend, but we wanted to point it out. There are three teams in the playoffs this year that entered the season at 100-1 or greater odds to win the Super Bowl: the New York Giants, Jaguars and Seahawks. There were also a whopping nine teams with a preseason Over/Under win total of 7.5 or less that hit the Over. 

So are you ready to place some NFL Super Wild Card Weekend bets? Head over to FOX Bet now for all your wagers! 

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