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Divisional Round worst bet: It was Doug Pederson all along

I thought I had it all figured out betting the Chiefs to cover in their divisional round matchup against the Jags. But I forgot to consider Doug.

The Jacksonville Jaguars did something I didn’t expect to happen on Saturday in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. It cost me some money and a bit of my waning sanity, but I learned a few things that will help me during the final three games of the season. 

Jacksonville almost beat the Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs, eventually falling 27-20 after a failed late-game drive. However, they managed to cover as +9.5 point underdogs (depending on your book). 

To be fair, the Jaguars fell victim to an unlikely late fumble in the game that gave the ball back to KC. Had it not been for that fumble, the Jaguars would have likely scored and been down just three points with around five minutes left to play. 

The trouble with all this is that I thought the Chiefs would earn their second double-digit win against the Jaguars this season. They beat them by ten earlier in the year, and despite their head of steam, I failed to account for a few things in this near-upset. 

This is a bad bet article, not a bad beat piece. However, for me, this Jags/Chiefs game fell into both categories.

Ignoring the wrong trends in the divisional round

Predicting the outcome of a sporting event is a challenging task. Anyone who tells you differently is full of shit or trying to sell you something. Usually both. But the work can be made easier by paying attention to the right trends. 

I tend to look at habits between specific players on offense and defense to try to find exploitable matchups. It’s a very basic explanation, but the point is most, if not all, of my research revolves around the players themselves. All this is to say that I don’t always consider the coaching records. But, after Saturday’s Jaguars game, I may want to reconsider that method in big spots like this. 

That is because with Saturday’s ATS victory, Jacksonville’s head coach, Doug Pederson, is now a flawless 7-0 against the spread as an underdog in the playoffs. Pederson is also 5-1 straight up as a betting underdog. 

I knew all of this, and yet I didn’t give him or his team the credit they may deserve for fighting tooth and nail in playoff games. Hell, the only reason they covered was by kicking a pretty meaningless field goal with just 0:25 seconds left in the game. Why couldn’t Brett Maher have been the Jaguar’s kicker? 

I was also aware of the spotty playoff track record that Andy Reid has in the playoffs. Granted, he has a lot more experience, but with a 19-16 lifetime record, Reid-coached teams are far from a great bet in the playoffs. Before Patrick Mahomes took over for KC, Reid was 11-13 all-time in the playoffs. Furthermore, the Chiefs were 1-2 ATS last season before getting bounced by the Bengals in the conference championship. That’s not a great record for a team that now looks like the class of the league. 

Looking ahead to the conference championships

Now that I’ve decided to pay more attention to coaching stats moving forward, I wanted to take a quick look at the four remaining head coaches and their career playoff numbers. 

Right off the bad, Zac Taylor’s name jumps out at me. 

Taylor is an interesting case because, despite coaching the fewest number of playoff games (6), he has the best postseason winning percentage of any coach in the NFL (.833) with a 5-1 straight-up record. 

As far as spread betting goes, Taylor’s Bengals are also 5-1 ATS in the playoffs, with the lone loss coming two weeks back against the Baltimore Ravens. 

Coincidentally, the 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan ranks 2nd in the NFL in playoff winning percentage at .750. Andy Reid (.556) and Nick Sirianni (.500) are middle of the pack, but the latter has coached just twice in the postseason. Furthermore, Shanahan’s 49ers are 2-0 ATS in the playoffs this season and went 3-0 last year during the postseason. 

That’s not to say the Bengals and 49ers are locks to cover this weekend. But I’m still betting on both of them to win and meet up in the Super Bowl.