Rested Titans, Packers have many bettors chasing chance to cash in

Lance Pugmire
USA TODAY Sports+

The fruits of posting the best conference records are sweet. A first-round bye is a restful week to scout competition, and then comes the richest reward: a home game in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this weekend.

Bettors, both recreational and professional, swarmed to capitalize on the disparity between those who gained that bye (the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers) and their disadvantaged foes (the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers).

As the divisional round commences Saturday, this week’s version of NFL Hot Tix and Picks reveals bettors from both sides are attracted to the rested. 

After all, the Titans are 8-0 both to win straight up and against the spread when the team has more than a week of rest before a game. 

Add in the major “X” factor: the Titans get back from injury MVP-candidate running back Derrick Henry for Saturday’s opener against the Bengals, and it’s clear bettors realized an opening exists. 

Take the bye teams and the points and enjoy your Saturday. 

We start with this week’s top tickets based on action produced by casual bettors. 

(All odds furnished by Tipico Sportsbook. All times Eastern.) 

4. Titans (5): Remarkable resilience, enduring long enough without so many key players -- namely RB Derrick Henry -- and still locking up the AFC's first-round bye. Reality check? Tennessee has also dropped three of its last four playoff games in Nashville, including last year's loss to Baltimore.

Tennessee Titans -3.5 vs. Cincinnati Bengals 

4:30 p.m. Saturday at Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn. 

Yes, the AFC North champion Bengals enter on a hot streak, but the feel-good story seems little match for the brawn of the rested Titans, whose home-field advantage and addition of Henry should limit time of possession for visiting Joe Burrow and company. 

Coach Mike Vrabel’s teams beat their opponents by more than 17 points when they possess an extra week of rest. Though the Titans’ have been boosted by the bye week, the Bengals have the satisfaction of their best season in three decades. 

While Tipico bettors have turned to Cincinnati, most of the action at major sportsbooks, including BetMGM, WynnBET, Las Vegas Superbook and Bally’s Interactive, is concentrated on Tennessee. 

TALKIN' TITANS::Will Derrick Henry be rusty for Tennessee's playoff run?

Green Bay Packers -5.5 vs. San Francisco 49ers 

8:15 p.m. Saturday at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisc.

We know Aaron Rodgers takes great joy in pummeling the hometown team that passed him over in the NFL Draft and let him stew so long, and this renewed battle on the famed frozen tundra is the ideal opportunity to double down on his regular-season rally. 

“This seems to be a spot where the public was not convinced by the Niners narrowly escaping with a win in Dallas (last week),” Tipico spokesman Sunny Gupta said. “Green Bay is coming off a dominant season led by MVP candidate Rodgers, while (49ers quarterback) Jimmy Garoppolo almost gave the game away at the end of last week. With the Packers a perfect 8-0 at home this season, it looks like the public is backing the Packers to continue their home-field dominance.” 

In addition to the powerful advantage of playing in 5-degree temperatures, Green Bay is expected to add cornerback Jaire Alexander and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, both back from injury, while the 49ers’ best defensive player, Nick Bosa, is less than a week removed from a concussion.

The popular Packers are also the No. 1 ticket at BetMGM, Las Vegas Superbook, WynnBET and Bally’s. 

PRESSURE PACKED:Can Aaron Rodgers overcome past Playoff futility? | Sports Seriously

Josh Allen and the Bills defeated the Chiefs, 38-20, when the two teams met on Oct. 10.

Kansas City Chiefs -1.5 vs. Buffalo Bills 

6:30 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. 

Home-field advantage is clearly driving this wager among the masses — an opinion that differs with the sharps’ assessment. 

Kansas City as a moneyline bet is Tipico’s third-most popular ticket, with Gupta explaining, “Both these teams won in dominating fashion last week. With the Chiefs only laying 1.5, it was surprising to see the public put more money on the moneyline than the spread, but that goes to show how close of a matchup the public sees this being with them viewing (Chiefs quarterback Patrick) Mahomes having the slight edge over (Buffalo quarterback) Josh Allen.” 

The weekend’s most compelling game is a rematch of Buffalo’s comfortable regular-season triumph and Kansas City’s playoff victory last season, which closed with Bills receiver Stefon Diggs unforgettably watching the Chiefs celebrating their victory as he plotted revenge. 

The Hot Picks, which take account of the sharps’ betting at the country’s major books, is similar with one great exception: 

Buffalo Bills +1.5 at Kansas City Chiefs  

6:30 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. 

Buffalo are the sharps’ top pick at BetMGM and the No. 2 selection at WynnBET, based on the revenge theory and the belief Allen can outdo the strong-armed, strong-legged Mahomes at his own game. 

The Bills’ defense was more stout throughout the season than Kansas City’s late-clicking crew. 

The over-53.5 is also a strong sharps play at Caesars Sportsbook, the thinking being Allen will exploit flaws in Kansas City as he did in embarrassing the heated rival Patriots last week. 

MILEPOST:Buffalo Bills view Chiefs playoff rematch as another milepost moment on their journey

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford looks up into the stands after the playoff win over the Cardinals on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Rams +2.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

3 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. 

Will Tom Brady and the defending champions bow here to a team intending to follow the Bucs' example and host this year’s Super Bowl? 

That’s the thinking by sharps at WynnBET, who watched quarterback Matthew Stafford win his first playoff game by connecting so effectively to seemingly unstoppable receiver Cooper Kupp and the revived Odell Beckham Jr. 

Everyone knows the Kryptonite for Brady is pressure, which Aaron Donald and the defense intend to bring to generate an upset. 

The under-48.5 is a popular ticket at Caesars, as well, as bettors count on the undermanned Buccaneers to struggle to post points against Los Angeles’ talented unit. 

OPINION:I owe Matthew Stafford an apology after he won his first playoff game

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans OVER 47.5 

4:30 p.m. Saturday at Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn. 

The number seems higher than it should be for a reason, and the sharps at Caesars have wagered more than 85% of the total dollars on the over, projecting Henry to compile 78.5 yards. 

“If he’s OK, it makes it much more difficult to defend the Titans,” Caesars’ Assistant Director of Trading Adam Pullen said. “It really opens things up for (Titans quarterback Ryan) Tannehill, which helps the cause of people who want to bet this over.” 

Tannehill has access to some incredible receiver options in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. While Burrow’s offensive arsenal also assures points, discounting the value of the Titans’ rest and success off a bye under Vrabel is gambling in its purest form. 

MORE:The close connection between Bengals coach Zac Taylor and Titans QB Ryan Tannehill

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