The NFL playoff outsider trend is put through its paces


LAS VEGAS – It's hard now not to like Kirk Cousins. The Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who was disparaged for his career failures in the biggest games, improved his image on Sunday with his first win in the playoffs.

It's just a game, but that's the moody nature of the NFL and the way quarterbacks and teams are perceived. A clown in one week can be a Cinderella story in the next, and that's the story of cousins ​​who remain in the outsider role, but who suddenly have more respect.

The Vikings who stunned the Saints, 26-20, in the NFC wildcard round in the overtime remain as 6½-point dogs on Saturday in San Francisco at the start of the division round.

William Hill lists the Packers as four-point favorites over the Seahawks in the other NFC matchup. In the AFC, the ravens are 9-point favorites over the titans, and the bosses put nine against the Texans.

"These numbers are a bit too high," said Gold Sheet editor Bruce Marshall. "I usually don't give a blanket recommendation on one side, but I like the dogs in each of these games. It's rare and a bit risky. But that was the nature of the season. This season the stray dogs covered about 60 percent."

In the regular season, the street teams ended up against the spread at 135-106-10 (56 percent), with the street outsiders accounting for 58 percent. On the opening weekend, the Vikings and Titans were road dog winners, while the Seahawks (pick & # 39; em) won in Philadelphia and the Bills (+ 2½) ran out after 22:19 in Houston.

In the past two years, the street teams have covered the spread in all eight wild card games, each as an outsider. Nevertheless, the division round is a different animal, with the two best seeds receiving a goodbye week in each conference.

Kirk cousins
Kirk cousinsGetty Images

"I don't know the numbers, but I do know that these teams that stay at home and rested have a pretty good advantage in this second round," said Chris Andrews, director of the South Point sports book.

Here are some numbers: Last season the home teams took the lead 4-0 in a row and 3-1 in ATS. The Vikings and Titans will try to stop the tendency for street teams to suffer 12 defeats in a row in the Saturday round games.

William Hill closed the Vikings as a seven-point outsider in New Orleans, but the line is half a point lower in San Francisco this week.

"I think seven is a better number," said Andrews. “I think the 49ers will appeal to the audience. I think the game in New Orleans probably took a lot off the Vikings. "

Wiseguy's money showed up against the Vikings against the Saints, including a $ 110,000 bet on Minnesota + 7½ at South Point. Andrews said he expects the Sharps to support the Vikings again when the line goes to seven this week.

"The Vikings are dangerous," said Marshall.

The same goes for the titans who may or may not have ended the Tom Brady era in New England with a 20:13 victory over the patriots. Ryan Tannehill from Tennessee's first career playoff is a duel against alleged MVP Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

"Baltimore is the superior team, no doubt about it," said Andrews. “But the titans are playing exceptionally well right now. If the number goes up to 10, I think it's a dog game. "

The Texans Chiefs showdown is a week 6 rematch in which Deshaun Watson Houston led to a 31:24 win over Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, which was 3-1 favored. The playoff line is a six-point adjustment. Head coach Andy Reid set an 18-3 career record in the regular season after a farewell and is 4-1 in the division round after a week's break.

The home team has won the last eight meetings between Seattle and Green Bay. The Seahawks are 8-1 this season, but Russell Wilson is 0-3 in his career at Lambeau Field.

"The Seahawks have just defeated an Eagles team that has had many injury problems," said Andrews. "I wasn't particularly impressed with Seattle and haven't been in a couple of weeks. The Seahawks stumbled to the finish. Russell Wilson is rightly very respected. There isn't much respect for Green Bay.

“Rodgers was just a good quarterback this season, not great. I think that's a good situation for the packers who are at home and resting. I really like Green Bay here. "

Packers Matt LaFleur will make his playoff coaching debut against veteran Pete Carroll.

But this is a time for new products and new faces like cousins. Of the eight remaining teams, only the chiefs made it this far last year.