There was a time when you could blindly auto-bet the home teams in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Thanks to the power of the bye week, they went 37-23-2 ATS between 1990 and 2005. Since then? Just 15-24-1 ATS. But that hasn’t stopped people from betting on this year’s top favorites to win Super Bowl 51 – and giving us one of the largest postseason point spreads in NFL history.

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (4:35 PM ET, FOX)

Bettors like the home team in this matchup, too. The Falcons (11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS) opened at –4.5, then moved to –5 in early action. The total has also shifted from 51.5 to 52 points. This could be the right time to bet the over (–105), which went 13-2-1 for Atlanta during the regular season – including all eight games at the Georgia Dome. That’s what happens when you combine the league’s best offense with one of its worst defenses.

The Seahawks (11-5-1 SU, 9-8 ATS) might have something to say about that. Their defense is still pretty good, even without safety Earl Thomas, and their offense just isn’t as potent as it was during the Super Bowl years. Seattle’s makeshift offensive line has made life difficult for QB Russell Wilson; he was sacked 41 times while throwing a career-high 11 interceptions. However, the over did go 9-7 for the ‘Hawks during the regular season, and they did beat Atlanta 26-24 (over 45.5) as 7-point home favorites back in Week 6.


Houston Texans at New England Patriots (8:15 PM ET, CBS)

This is the big one. After cruising to yet another AFC East title, New England (14-2 SU, 13-3 ATS) opened as a 16-point home chalk on the NFL odds board. It speaks to how popular the Patriots are, but also to how poorly the Texans (10-7 SU, 7-9-1 ATS) have played this season. Only six teams in the league had a worse point differential than Houston’s –49. That translates to about 6.5 Pythagorean Wins.

Despite playing the softest schedule in the NFL, the Patriots were good for 12.8 Pythagorean Wins at a point differential of +191, finishing 57 points higher than the Atlanta Falcons. That’s also despite the loss of TE Rob Gronkowski to a ruptured disc in Week 12. The Texans actually have one of the better defenses in the league, even without DE JJ Watt (herniated disc), and playing through what promises to be nasty conditions in Foxborough could keep the score low on both sides, thus preventing the Pats from covering that giant spread. Saturday’s total is 44.5 points at press time, same as it was at the open.


*Odds as of January 12, 2017