Rams’ NFC Championship Win Snaps Wild 16-Game ATS Streak

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Los Angeles Rams Receiver and NFL MVP Candidate Cooper Kupp
(AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jan 31, 2022, 10:27 AM

Everyone with a pulse and an online sportsbook account knows that this year’s NFL Playoffs have been absolutely nuts. Whether you’re firing on NFL parlays every week or you’re just hunting around the NFL odds page looking to place a bet, the wild nature of this month’s playoff race has escaped no one in the handicapping world. 

One of the reasons that has remained true throughout the last three weeks – particularly the Divisional and Championship rounds – are the outright underdog upsets. So many NFL playoff games (and NFL bets!) were decided at the gun, on the foot of a kicker.

This led to a key 16-game ATS streak that influenced how many of us began handicapping games. That streak began during last year’s divisional round and carried all the way through this year’s playoffs, ending with the Rams’ 20-17 win over the 49ers.

NFL Odds: Rams Win, 49ers Cover in NFC Championship Game

Believe it or not, NFL point spreads have not mattered in any playoff games this season. As in, it has come into play exactly zero times. Not once. Every game up until Sunday night’s NFC Championship has been either a favorite winning and covering or an underdog winning outright. 

In fact, this trend goes back beyond this year’s playoffs. Recall last year’s Super Bowl, where Tom Brady’s Bucs won outright as a dog. Or the NFC Championship two weeks prior, where they did the same in Green Bay.

For 16 consecutive playoff games, NFL point spreads were completely irrelevant. Before 49ers +3.5 tickets cashed, we hadn’t seen an underdog cover in a playoff loss since last year’s divisional round. 

Before I tell you… any guesses which game that might be?

If you had Chiefs/Browns on your Bingo card, then congratulations. Fresh off a cathartic Wild Card victory over the divisional rival Steelers, the Browns took their show on the road to Kansas City and kept it close in a loss to eventual AFC champion Kansas City. 

You might remember this as the game where Chad Henne rolled out and tossed to Tyreek Hill on fourth and inches.

We got all the way to Sunday night’s game before we had another underdog cover in a loss.

Going back to the start of the 2020 playoffs, only four of the 25 games played have actually involved the point spread. They were:

  • 2021 NFC Championship: Rams 20, 49ers 17
  • 2020 AFC Divisional Round: Chiefs 22, Browns 17
  • 2020 NFC Wild Card Round: Bucs 31, Washington Football Team 23
  • 2020 AFC Wild Card Round: Bills 27, Colts 24

There’s a clear handicapping lesson in all of this. When you’re breaking down NFL playoff odds, just place a bet on whatever team you think is going to win. It’s that simple. 

If you like the favorite, don’t sweat the no-cover too much.

If you like the underdog, bet the money line. Maybe even go look up the alt dog -2.5, if you want to sell points and get really crazy.

There will always be scenarios like Sunday, where the dog does get the cover. But the data clearly tells us that smart handicappers of the online sports betting world should just bet whichever team they like to win – at least when it comes to the NFL playoffs.

Now, about those Super Bowl odds

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.