Contrarian value bets for playoffs

PJ Walsh of Sports Insights breaks down how playoff underdogs perform ATS. AP Photo/Kin Cheung

I'd like to start this week's article by thanking Insider and our readers for an extremely entertaining and successful season. In terms of performance, it has been a very profitable year with our "system matches" producing a 26-18-2 (59.1 percent) ATS record in the NFL and a 5-2-1 (71.4 percent) ATS record with our picks in ESPN Insider's Bowl Betting Guide. That adds up to an overall ATS record of 31-20-3 (60.8 percent) and a profit of plus-8.18 units (assuming a vig of minus-110 for all wagers). Translated another way, a bettor wagering $100 on all of our system plays has made a profit of $818 so far this season.

While the obvious goal of this column is to provide winning picks, the true purpose is to inspire bettors to improve their handicapping by asking questions. As those of you who have followed along this year know, asking and testing questions like "How do NFL teams perform after a bye?" and "Does cold weather really produce low-scoring games?" has helped us to produce a winning season and, whether it's using our Bet Labs data analysis software, creating spreadsheets or building personal models, is a strategy every bettor can employ.

With this being my final football betting system article of the season, I once again turned to our Bet Labs software to find historically profitable playoff trends that bettors can reference from now through the Super Bowl. The biggest obstacle to overcome when developing playoff systems is the lack of games and small sample sizes. However, with only two filters, I uncovered a very simple system with an ATS win rate of more than 60 percent and a handful of matches for this weekend's divisional playoff round.

The table below summarizes the results of the analysis.