Betting value in divisional round

There is plenty of betting value in the championship round of the NFL playoffs. istockphoto.com

After posting a 27-22 against-the-spread record this season (including a 1-1 ATS record with last week's wild-card picks), the team at Sports Insights is back with another historically profitable betting system offering value during the NFL divisional round.

Fans and analysts alike often cite how important it is to post one of the two best records in each conference, therefore earning a first-round bye. That extra rest gives coaches more time to game plan and players time to recuperate from a grueling season. But is a first-round bye as advantageous as we believe? Could it be that first-round byes are overvalued by bettors? Worse yet, do they actually kill momentum?

Our philosophy is to fade the public, asserting a contrarian view on the sports betting marketplace. If the public loads up on the favorite, we take the underdog. If square bettors artificially inflate the total by hammering the over, we are likely to take the under. We preach the gospel of buying on bad news and selling on good. Rather than overreact to recent results, we focus on long-term trends.

There are countless examples that illustrate how public perception can be profitable for sports bettors. Here's one: Bettors tend to place emphasis on home-field advantage, although historically, road teams have been far more profitable. Bettors also believe that cold weather leads to low-scoring games, when the exact opposite is true.

To test whether first-round byes were actually being overvalued, we used our Bet Labs software, which allows bettors to create their own betting systems from our historical database. We found that teams receiving a first-round bye had gone just 17-27 ATS since 2003, including a 1-3 ATS record last season. When we focused on the favorites, that record dipped slightly to 15-27 ATS.