Every time ownership of the most coveted trophy in the NFL is up for grabs, teams go out of their way to jostle, wrestle, and tackle anyone blocking their road to football immortality.
After 16 punishing regular-season games and gut-wrenching playoff rounds, the stakes have reached their peak. Because at this time of the year in the National Football League, it’s either win big or go broke.
This can’t be far from the truth for fans betting on the outcome of the NFL matches their teams are playing. They can either go home a few hundred or thousands of dollars richer or empty-handed.
However, betting on NFL matches shouldn’t be a scary undertaking, even if you are a newbie. When it comes to wagering on sports, always remember that you just need to be smart and take time to familiarize yourself with betting terms and the types of odds that most sportsbooks offer.
Every year, the NFL playoffs generate a massive betting handle (or total amount wagered). The American Gaming Association anticipated that the 2020 Super Bowl alone would generate $6.8 billion in betting volume, an enormous sum for a single game.
Even with all of the action, you might be hesitant to wager on NFL playoff games. Not to worry, we're here to break down the specifics of NFL postseason betting.
How do the NFL Playoffs work
Before we go into postseason sports betting, let's go through the fundamentals of the NFL playoffs.
Since 2021, the NFL has expanded the playoff structure to accommodate 14 teams. That implies there will be 13 NFL playoff games to wager on in 2023. Before the Super Bowl, there are three rounds of playoff competition. These are the Wild Card Weekend, Divisional Round, and Conference Championship rounds.
The playoffs are made up of seven teams from each of the NFL's two conferences, the AFC and NFC, based on their regular season record.
The AFC and NFC are divided into four divisions apiece, with four NFL teams in each division. The four teams with the best records in their division progress to the playoffs automatically.
There are three playoff berths available in both the AFC and NFC. The three Wild Card round berths are given to the clubs that have the best records but did not win their division.
Once all 14 playoff teams have been chosen, they are seeded (ranked) from one to seven in each conference.
The regular-season record of each team is used to determine these rankings. The higher the seed, the better the record. Here's an example with fictitious win-loss records in brackets to help you understand:
The top seed in each conference receives a bye week, meaning they automatically progress past the first round of the NFL playoffs. The top two teams in 2023 are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 2 seed will face the 7 seed in the first week of the 2023 NFL playoffs, the 3 seed will face the 6 seed, and the 4 seed will face the 5 seed. Because NFL playoff games are single elimination, the winner takes all. That is one of the reasons why betting on the NFL playoffs is more intriguing than betting on the regular season or preseason.
The teams will keep playing games with only one winner. The winner of each game will move on to the next round.
Throughout the playoffs, seeding determines matchups. The last club standing in each conference advances to compete for the prized Vince Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl title game.
Now that we have a better knowledge of the playoff format, let's look at how to wager on these games.
What are the different types of NFL Playoff bets
The wagers available on NFL playoff games aren't all that different from those available during the regular season. The stakes are higher, to be sure, but we'll get to that in a minute. Throughout the season, real-time NFL lines and spreads are constantly updated.
First, let's go over some of the NFL playoff wagers available.
How to bet on the Moneyline for the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl
Betting on the moneyline is the simplest type of bet. You are predicting who will win the game regardless of the overall score, player performance, or any other secondary variables.
The NFL odds with a "-" symbol represent the betting favorite, and the numerical amount indicates how much money you would have to spend to win $100.
In the following example, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are considered favorites to win the game because of the subtraction symbol in front of the number. If you bet $135 on the Chiefs and they win, you will win $100. You would receive your $135 bet back, plus the $100 winnings for a total of $235.
Chiefs (-135) vs 49ers (+115)
The odds with a "+" symbol represent the underdog, and the figures here represent how much money you'd win if you bet $100.
At +115 in this example, the 49ers are regarded as slight underdogs. If you smell an upset and bet $100 for the 49ers to win, and they do, you would win $115. You would receive your $100 bet back, plus the $115 winnings for a total of $215.
How to bet on the Spread for the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl
Point spreads are on of the most popular bets for NFL games.
Betting on point spreads predicts who will win the game after additional points have been added to or deducted from each team's final score.
The favored team will have points deducted from their final score, and it is your job to predict whether or not they will still win when those points are deducted.
The underdog, on the other hand, will have points added to their total. If you believe that these extra points will increase the underdog's total score above the favorite team's final score, you should back the underdog.
Point spread betting odds could look like this:
Bengals +9 (-110) vs Eagles -9 (-110)
The Eagles are heavily favored to win the game, thus, the point spread bet will deduct nine points from their final score. This changes the odds in favor of the bettor.
If you believe the Eagles will win by more than 9 points, you should bet on the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, if you believe the Bengals will win outright, or lose by less than 9 points, you should bet on them.
How to bet on the Total for the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl
During the NFL playoffs, betting on totals, also known as the over/under, has nothing to do with guessing who will win the game. You're instead wagering on the overall number of points scored during the game.
Oddsmakers will create betting lines to allow bettors to place bets on the points total going over or under a specific amount.
Chiefs vs 49ers - O/U 44.5 (-110)
In our previous example, you could wager on whether the total number of points scored by both sides would be greater than or less than 44.5. The odds are even at -110 on both sides, so you have an option.
If you placed a $110 bet on the game being over 44.5 points and the final score was 30–15 (45 points total), then you would win $100. You would receive your $110 bet back, plus the $100 winnings for a total of $210.
What are prop bets for the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl
Prop bets are where things become interesting because they focus on things like individual player performance or a variety of data. Prop bets on NFL playoff games can pay off because there are always some players who come out on top.
People like to make these bets during the Super Bowl, but you can also win a lot of prop bets during the playoffs.
Here are some examples of prop bets you could place:
How many touchdowns did a given player score in the postseason?
Who scores the first touchdown in a playoff game?
Count of sacks in a playoff game
Extra-point conversions were missed in the playoffs.
How many times do the broadcasters say a specific word?
and even... What is the color of the Gatorade at the Super Bowl?
Prop bets can have a wide range of outcomes, implying that the chances are highly volatile. You should think about making these bets in the playoffs, when games with a lot at stake have some of the most unpredictable moments in sports.
What are futures bets for the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl
During the NFL playoffs, the most popular futures bet is on who will win
the Super Bowl.
Futures bets are basically wagers placed on outcomes prior to the formation of certain teams. During the NFL playoffs, you could bet on one of the postseason teams winning the Super Bowl before they even qualified.
These bets are extremely lucrative, but the chances of winning are slim to none. No risk, no return, as the old adage goes. You could, for example, bet on the Buffalo Bills or Miami Dolphins to win the AFC, and the Minnesota Vikings or San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC.
What is the difference between betting on NFL Playoffs vs NFL regular season
The intensity at NFL playoff games is absolutely different. Every game is a do-or-die situation, therefore the stakes are higher and the anxiety is palpable.
What is unique: For starters, you could expect to see more sportsbook promotions during the NFL playoffs from sites like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. With more people paying attention to the NFL playoffs, sportsbooks are more likely to offer bonuses like better odds to bring in new customers after the regular season.
When betting on NFL playoff games, you should take the bye week into account. Only one team from each conference will get a bye week during the 2023 playoffs, giving them a significant rest advantage over the other teams, who must play an additional game to reach the Super Bowl.
What remains constant: weather, home-field advantage, team strength, rest, injuries, and momentum all play a similar role in the NFL playoffs. These factors can influence the outcome of a game and should be considered when predicting a team's chances of winning.
In the NFL playoffs, standard betting advice remains the same. Make certain that you allocate an adequate quantity of money each week and that you wager with realistic unit sizes.
How to track your NFL bets during the Playoffs and Super Bowl
Just like the regular season, it's important to be tracking all your NFL bets! This is done for several reasons:
Allows you to analyze past performance and identify patterns or trends in betting behavior, potentially improving future results.
Helps manage bankroll effectively by keeping track of winnings and losses over time.
Can be used as a tool for accountability, ensuring that you stick to your betting plan and do not deviate from it.
The easiest way to track your NFL bets is by using the Vault bet tracking app!
This is an iOS app that links with all your sportsbooks such as DraftKings, PointsBet, Caesars, or PrizePicks, and automatically tracks all your bets, stats, and even trends for you!