Vegas Money Moves – WC

Las Vegas sports book are hoping history doesn't repeat itself in the 2018 version of Wild Card Weekend, because the 2017 version absolutely crushed the entire city as all four home favorites won and covered the point-spread. That's 4-0 straight up with many of them linked up together in high paying parlays and teasers.

"This same weekend fell on January 7 and 8 last season," said CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal while reviewing his month over month ledgers for January. "We got beaten up pretty good and took a six figure loss on parlays."

A quick flashback to the playoffs last season shows the sports books got absolutely crushed where the favorite either won and covered or lost outright. The spread never came into play in any playoff game. The favorites went 9-2 straight-up and against-the-spread, the home team went 8-2 both SU and ATS and the 'over' went 8-3. The Super Bowl even went to overtime for the first time and saw the Patriots cover -3 with a six-point win (34-28).

That was certainly an NFL Playoffs for the ages for regular bettors. The way betting patterns have gone so far this week, last year's success is breeding the same type of action in 2018.

"The thing that stands out the most this week is that we don't have sharp bets on any of the four underdogs," said Simbal.

While the majority of bettors continue to play the favorites, the lesson learned by the sports books last season is to move the numbers quick and somehow lure underdog money as much as possible. But it's not happening much yet and the books have been baiting them with lots of movement off the original number.

Despite the Kansas City Chiefs going 1-8 ATS in their last nine playoff games, they are the most one-sided play of the four games this weekend.

"In the Tennessee-Kansas City game, we opened the Chiefs -7.5, like everyone else, and were pushed all the way to -8.5," Simbal said. "We've had four times more action on the Chiefs."

The Chiefs were one of the two favorites last season to lose outright with Pittsburgh (+2) winning 18-16 at Kansas City in the Divisional Playoff round. The unique thing about the Chiefs this season is that the spread hasn't mattered in any of their games. They have won and covered 10 games and lost six games without covering.

The Saturday night game has the defending NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons getting six points at Los Angeles against the high scoring Rams (29.9 PPG).

"We're actually pretty even with the Falcons and Rams, only $2,000 apart in action," Simbal said. "We seeing Falcons money-line action (+220) and Under money. We opened at 50 and we're down to 48. I think the Falcons are a team the public will get behind if they win at L.A. and they're also a team we don't do well with in futures."

CG Technology books have the Falcons at 22/1 (Bet $100 to win $2,200) to win the Super Bowl despite the risk on them. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has the Falcons at 20/1 and the Rams at 12/1 odds. A good case can be made for the winner of this game to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.

Everyone keeps talking about the Bills making the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, which is awesome, but it's been 11 years since the Jaguars made it. They've been missed too. Fresh blood. Actually, that seems to be the theme this year with eight teams in the playoffs that missed last season's playoffs.

Jacksonville has the No. 2 ranked defense that had 55 sacks on the year and have won its last five games at home. The Bills best player, running back LeSean McCoy (ankle), stretched but didn't practice Thursday and is listed as 'questionable' for Sunday. He's worth just over 1.5-points to the number, but the number ran early on as if McCoy would miss.

"We opened Jaguars -7 and moved quickly because of the injury," Simbal said. "When we were Jaguars -8 Thursday, we had someone (not sharp) take the +8.5 with us. They're betting the Bills money line with us, they took +350, so we're going to be in a spot where we need the Jags to win but not cover. If I could write the book, it would be a Jags three-point win."

The Chiefs may have the biggest risk among the four games as of Friday afternoon, but on Sunday when the Saturday leftover risk calculates into Sunday's game, the New OrleansSaints are going to be the sports books most dangerous side, in part just because it's the final game of the NFL weekend posted. The other part is that 73 percent of the action already has been taking the Saints who have covered six straight against the Panthers.

"Our sharpest player laid the Saints -6 with us as soon as we opened the number and we went right to -6.5," Simbal said. "but we haven't seen any other large wagers at that number. We never went to -7."

The majority of Las Vegas books were dealing Saints -7 flat, but -7 EVEN is the best available for Carolina bettors.

Simbal will need the Panthers in this game, but he doesn't want them going far saying "the Panthers are our worst future liability."

Carolina is currently 30/1 to win the Super Bowl.

"Ideally, we would want one of the 'dogs to win outright this weekend, and have it not be the Bills, just so we can beat down some of the teaser risk," Simbal said.

The best outright win for the house would be Tennessee which William Hill books are offering a city-best at +380 on the money-line. It would immediately bank all the Chiefs parlay action and limit risk into the other three games. It would also kill the popular favorite money-line plays and kill almost every teaser right out of the gate.

It sounds crazy since the Titans have looked awful on the road and two of their three road wins came at Cleveland and Indianapolis, the lowest rated teams in the league, but you have to consider that quarterback Marcus Mariota went into Kansas City in Week 15 last season and won 19-17.

Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 13 years.

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