Art Aronson: NFL Line Watch Divisional Round 2017
Our expert handicapper Art Aronson takes looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
By Art Aronson
Game to bet now
Houston at New England (-15)
All playoff games are not created equal, and while the other three this weekend could reasonably go either way, there just seems to be no way that the Texans can hang in this one. Houston was not a good road team (2-6) this season, with one of the losses a 27-0 turtle job in New England in a game in which Tom Brady didn’t even play. New England has had two weeks of R&R time to get ready for this one, so it’s hard to see Houston making this one competitive.
If Houston has any shot, it would be by pressuring Brady up with the gut and taking away the middle of the field (that worked for the Jets a few years back). Somehow the line which opened at 16 has melted down a point as jubilant Houston fans celebrate the fact that Brock Osweiler did not spit the bit too much against the Raiders last weekend. It’s unlikely to move any more.
Game to wait on
Green Bay at Dallas (-4)
On occasion fans tend to over-react to wild-card round victories, and that might explain the heavy money placed on the Packers in early wagering. But Green Bay was dominant in a 25-point victory over the Giants on Sunday, and Packer fans hope that the great play of Aaron Rodgers and tons of momentum are enough to carry them past the Cowboys in Dallas.
When Dallas is good – and the Boys haven’t been this good in a while – it always draws heavy national money, so the betting figures to level off. With so much action expected on this premier game, cautious bettors might want to hang on a bit and see if they can catch a line that might move a half-point in their favor as kickoff nears.
Total to watch
Seattle at Atlanta (51)
The number on this one has already moved from 49 to 51, perhaps a sign that bettors are looking more closely at the Falcons and starting to realize that Atlanta’s offense is really good. Especially at home, where Atlanta averaged more than 36 in its final four regular season games. Matt Ryan’s rep has taken hits over the last several years as the Falcons couldn’t get any traction, but this season he’s the potential league MVP and has the best stats this side of Tom Brady.
The Falcons won their last four games to earn the bye, and the key in each of those games was getting off to a fast start. If that happens again, the teams could easily blow past 51.