Let’s analyze potential ‘bet on’ and ‘bet against’ teams currently in the AFC Playoff Picture during the final three weeks of the season
The Pittsburgh Steelers are starting to look like that scary team nobody wants to see in the playoffs. They’ve won and covered four straight and have surged ahead of Baltimore for top spot in the AFC North.
The health of Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell has played a role in the team’s recent run but the real storyline has been the defense. Pittsburgh has held each of its last two opponents (NY Giants and Buffalo Bills) to below 300 total yards and surrendered 20 or fewer points in all four victories.
The Steelers have a very favorable schedule to wrap up the regular season with three very winnable divisional games. They’re currently -3 road favorites at near-dead Cincinnati on Sunday followed by two straight home games against Baltimore and Cleveland. Baltimore will likely be the toughest test of those three. Roethlisberger was very rusty in his first game back from injury (67.3 QB rating) when the Steelers fell to the Ravens in Baltimore, 21-14, back in Week 9.
Pittsburgh has been a “bet on” team in both the public and sharp betting communities and they’ve rewarded both groups with an 8-5 ATS mark. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this team go 3-0 or 2-1 ATS the rest of the way.
The Kansas City Chiefs continue to mystify bettors; 10-3 SU despite the statistical profile of a .500 team. The Chiefs’ yards per play differential (-0.1) is currently 20th in the NFL. They did manage to outgain Oakland last Thursday thanks in large part to the cold weather and Derek Carr’s worst game of the season. But week in and week out, KC routinely loses the box score and yet they head into Week 15 on an 8-1 SU, 6-3 ATS streak.
Like Kansas City, Minnesota has a suspect statistical profile but the Vikings were aided early on by a very favorable turnover margin. The Vikings currently rank second in the NFL at +12 but it hasn’t been enough to offset the rest of the team’s deficiencies as regression hit this team hard with just two wins in its last eight tries. The Chiefs check in at +11 but they continue to scoff at the idea of regression.
Kansas City is obviously not built to win by big margins (4-5 ATS as favorites) but accepting “this team just finds ways to win” doesn’t sit well with this bettor. In fact, the remainder of Kansas City’s schedule sets up very well for “fade” opportunities. This weekend’s opponent, Tennessee, is likely to give the Chiefs’ 27th-ranked rush defense trouble. And Denver will be in full-on revenge mode after handing away Week 12’s game.
The Broncos (surprise!) outgained the Chiefs 463-273 but fell in overtime, 30-27. Week 17’s regular season finale at San Diego is another revenge spot after the Chargers coughed up a 27-10 lead only to lose in overtime, 33-27. Note that all three of those foes own far better yard per play differentials compared to Kansas City. Of all the potential “bet against” teams the remainder of the season, Kansas City should be at or near the top of the list.
Ian Cameron has been handicapping and betting sports year-round for over a decade. He has been with Sportsmemo.com since 2012, using his knowledge and handicapping techniques to make insightful winning selections