All four home teams are favored in the 2016 divisional playoffs, but a few of the road teams are smaller underdogs than they were at the beginning of the week. With the second round of the NFL postseason approaching, the betting public seems to be backing both No.6 seeds.
The Seattle Seahawks began the week as three-point underdogs against the Carolina Panthers, but they are getting just 2.5 points as of Thursday morning. The Pittsburgh Steelers went from seven-point underdogs to 6.5-point underdogs in their matchup with the Denver Broncos.
With Seattle getting less than a field goal in their visit to Carolina, the betting line indicates that the Seahawks would be favored against the Panthers on a neutral field. Carolina’s 15-1 regular-season record was the best in the NFL, and they won five more games than the Seahawks. But despite their dominance, the Panthers are still not viewed as the best team in football.
The Arizona Cardinals have better odds to win the NFC and Super Bowl 50 than Carolina. The Panthers won in Seattle earlier this season, but it’s not hard to see why the Seahawks have been given such a good chance to win on Sunday. Seattle is the NFC’s hottest team, having won seven of their last eight games, including four victories against playoff teams. Seattle has reached the Super Bowl in each of the last two years, and they are led by the league’s No.1 scoring defense and the NFL’s highest-rated passer.
Pittsburgh was made a seven-point underdog by odds makers because they are dealing with injuries to some of their best players. Running back DeAngelo Williams might miss a second straight game, and it’s unknown if a concussion will keep wide receiver Antonio Brown off the field. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play with torn shoulder ligaments and a sprained AC joint, and he was clearly limited at the end of the Steelers' wild-card game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Denver has plenty of questions surrounding them, as well. Peyton Manning will get his first start at quarterback in two months, and the Broncos don’t know what kind of performance they’ll get from the veteran. He threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in the regular season, and the Broncos lost to the Steelers a few weeks ago when Brock Osweiler threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
The betting lines for Saturday’s games have remained the same. Both the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals are expected to advance to their respective conference championship games.
Below are updated betting lines for all the divisional playoff games. These are the consensus odds from multiple sportsbooks in Las Vegas, via vegasinsider.com.
Kansas City Chiefs (+5) at New England Patriots, 42
Green Bay Packers (+7) at Arizona Cardinals, 50
Seattle Seahawks (+2.5) at Carolina Panthers, 44
Pittsburgh Steelers (+6.5) at Denver Broncos, 39