The NFL playoffs are here.
Starting Saturday, we'll have six stand-alone games with plenty on the line as the push for the Super Bowl begins. It's no surprise that playoff football is one of the more popular betting events of the year.
With betting being legalized in more and more states and the influx of more casual bettors for the Super Bowl, it's worth taking a look at which sides are receiving the most betting action heading into the weekend.
Arizona is public's favorite play
Arizona started the season by winning its first seven games. The Cardinals finished the season by losing four of their last five games. The trend line certainly isn't favorable for the Cardinals when you look at it from that perspective.
That's not stopping the Cardinals from being the public's favorite bet of wild-card weekend. Arizona is currently a 4-point road underdog against the L.A. Rams. Two-thirds of the bets and over 70% of the money is on Arizona to cover as a road underdog.
There might not be another team in the league with more pressure on it this weekend than the Rams. They've gone all-in by trading for Matthew Stafford. They also added win-now pieces like Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr.
The Rams appeared in the Super Bowl in 2019 but have regressed in recent years. Theoretically, the upgrade from Jared Goff to Stafford gives the Rams more juice. However, Stafford has been inconsistent and prone to mistakes in his first season in Los Angeles.
Kyler Murray is making his first career playoff start and Kliff Kingsbury is coaching his first career playoff game. Kingsbury is 1-5 against Sean McVay and the Rams in his NFL coaching career.
The chase for eight
Tom Brady begins his quest for an eighth Super Bowl ring on Sunday. His Buccaneers are an 8.5-point favorite over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sixty-seven percent of the betting handle is backing the Buccaneers to cover and beat the Eagles comfortably.
These two teams played earlier in the season, with the Buccaneers beating the Eagles, 28-22. The Eagles trailed 28-7 before scoring two late touchdowns to get a backdoor cover of the 7-point spread.
We know all about Brady's playoff success, but this will be Jalen Hurts' first career playoff start. Quarterbacks making their first career playoff start against a quarterback with playoff experience cover the spread just 29.8% of the time.
It's no surprise to see the public is backing Brady. However, it's worth noting that Brady is just 2-3 against the spread in his career during wild-card weekend. He failed to cover as a 10-point favorite against Washington last season. He hasn't covered a spread on wild-card weekend in 15 years, though he didn't play on this weekend very often in his New England days.
Public expects points in SF-Dallas
The San Francisco-Dallas matchup might be the most intriguing matchup on this weekend's slate. San Francisco is a popular upset pick for many. Dallas always gets headlines and attention.
The public is backing the Cowboys, but barely. Fifty-one percent of bets have been on Dallas to cover as a 3-point favorite.
However, the betting splits are much more pronounced on the total. Seventy-one percent of the bets and 91 percent of the money has been bet on the 49ers and Cowboys to go over the total of 50.5 points.
With playmakers like Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Deebo Samuel, Elijah Mitchell, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk on the field, there's plenty of game-changing talent. Any single play can break big.
San Francisco has won seven of its last nine games, scoring 27 points per game over that period. Dallas is averaging over 36 points per game at home this season, scoring over 35 points in five home games.