We examine the teams that can't afford to lose as the playoffs approach.
There is no time for letdowns when it comes to teams fighting for the postseason and playoff positioning in the final two weeks of the NFL regular season.
Case in point, the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots simply cannot afford to take a step back and lose Sunday as double-digit betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Chiefs (8-6) have won two in a row following a four-game skid that almost saw them lose the AFC West lead. Now they just need to knock off the Miami Dolphins (6-8) as 10-point betting favorites to clinch the division title after crushing the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13 last Saturday night. Kansas City has covered five of seven after earning a victory.
The Patriots (11-3) pulled off an unlikely 27-24 road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week to clinch their ninth consecutive AFC East title and put themselves in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the conference. But a New England loss to the playoff-hungry Buffalo Bills (8-6) as 12-point favorites would give the Steelers a shot to reclaim the No. 1 seed on Christmas.
The Bills have lost 25 of the past 28 meetings to the Patriots—going 9-17-2 against the spread—and have not made the postseason since 1999.
The New Orleans Saints (10-4) need to win their last two games to take the NFC South, and they are 5.5-point home favorites against the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) in a rematch from two weeks ago. New Orleans lost 20-17 at Atlanta and finishes the regular season by visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17.
The Falcons just won 24-21 at Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football and will try to snap a 10-game winning streak for the Saints as favorites (7-3 ATS).
And the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) will see the return of running back Ezekiel Elliott from his four-game suspension when they host the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) as 5-point favorites. The winner of this matchup will stay alive for one of the Wild Card playoff spots in the NFC while the loser can start thinking about next season.
The Seahawks are coming off a 42-7 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and they are 2-7 ATS in the past nine meetings with the Cowboys, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, who have won five straight as favorites (4-0-1 ATS).