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NFL Betting: Best bets on first half, team total and other betting markets for AFC and NFC Championship games

Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to the sidelines during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The sports betting industry has exploded in recent years, ushering in an assortment of new and innovative betting opportunities. At this point, it feels like someone can wager on almost any event occurring during the course of a football game.

Some of the most worthwhile betting opportunities exist in the derivatives market. A derivative is any betting line that is derived from another; the most common example is first-half odds, which are derived from the full-game counterpart. Numerous other options exist, spanning from first-half spreads and totals to betting by the quarter.

Bookmakers spend a significant portion of their time and resources to handicap full-game lines efficiently. This helps as a proxy for derivative bets and creates opportunities for those willing to research and find discrepancies in markets that can be capitalized on. Full-game markets get all of the headlines, but the bread is buttered in places where people often don’t look initially. 

Before kickoff, we can evaluate individual derivative bets by utilizing some of our predictive models along with team tendencies and production when starting a game. The charts referenced below highlight teams' early-game ability through the previous weeks of the season. These will be our guide as we look for value in some other derivative betting markets. 

Our written picks went 0-2 in the divisional round — an unfortunate weekend, to say the least. Rashard Higgins‘ fumble into the endzone would have resulted in a push if the Browns scored on that drive. The Saints writeup fell half a point short of the stated goal after they settled for two field goals in the first quarter. It was an all-around bad week for my bets, but we are still slightly positive on the year for derivative bets — at 21-20 on the season. 

At this point, team strength is fully understood by most involved in the betting market. There are few, if any, opportunities in the full-game markets, as most of the value that arises is due to recency bias or uncertain injury situations. These are the main reasons why targeting some of the lesser-known markets for inefficiencies is the correct approach as we move toward the end of the season. Let’s dive into the best derivative bets to make for the best weekend of NFL action.  

[Editor's note: Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and use promo code PFF when you sign up to turn $1 into $100 if any QB scores a rushing or receiving touchdown this weekend! Click here to play at DraftKings Sportsbook.]


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