Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM

OLR - Title Games

Minutes after the Jaguars completed their shock 45-42 win over the Steelers in Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas installed the Patriots as 8-point home favorites vs. Jacksonville for next weekend’s conference title tilt (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

Considering the Jags were gifted seven points at Pittsburgh, -8 felt like a generous offer on the Patriots. An early-to-the-window wiseguy agreed with that notion and immediately laid the points at the Westgate.

Ed Salmons, manager of the SuperBook, said when he and his colleagues earlier on Sunday mulled the point spread for a potential Jaguars-Patriots matchup, they were thinking New England -9.5. After watching Jacksonville in fine form at Pittsburgh, though, they decided to hang a lower number.

“Jacksonville looked so good on the offensive side, but we couldn’t tell if it was them or Pittsburgh was that bad. And then Leonard Fournette (injured) his ankle, and we didn’t know how much that was going to affect him next week, so we opened 8,” Salmons said. “It doesn’t take much to move these lines early, and we took a bet (on New England) at 8 and we went to 9 for teasers. If it goes to 9.5, it’s not going to be surprising.”

The Wynn, in fact, did move to -9.5 from an opener of -9, indicating sharp money is interested in laying the Pats -9.

At CG Technology, a few Patriots -9 bets came in Sunday night, but not enough for the sports book operator to move off its opening line, according to Jason Simbal, vice president of risk.

Sharp money on ‘over’ 46, meanwhile, did prompt a move north to 46.5, a number that remains at the low end of the total market, with most shops dealing 47 on Monday.

Public bettors, of course. will swing for the fences with Jacksonville money-line bets, offered from +325 to +375 around town (it’s been as high as +400 at MGM Resorts).

Do casual players have a shot at cashing at those nice prices?

“People have kind of blocked this out of their minds, but it’s been these teams like Jacksonville that have beaten the Patriots (in the playoffs). This type of team has done it there before,” Simbal said, citing the Ravens in 2013 and Jets in 2011 as teams with strong defenses and running games , and mediocre quarterbacks, that that have pulled off postseason upsets in Foxboro.

Asked if he believes the Jags have a shot to win outright, Salmons said, “Not really. I’ll never say never, but it’s so hard to look at this and see them winning the game. I can see them maybe keeping it close, but I don’t know about winning.”

Minnesota Vikings (-3.5, 38.5) at Philadelphia Eagles, 6:40 p.m. ET, FOX

While Philadelphia’s 15-10 win over Atlanta on Saturday justified the opinion that the Eagles were not getting the respect they deserved by being made the underdogs, the NFC’s No. 1 seed is back in the same role this week.

After the Vikings beat the Saints 29-24 thanks to one of the craziest finishes to an NFL playoff game anyone can remember, they were installed as favorites of -3 (-120) for Sunday’s conference championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Bettors were eager to lay that price.

“We saw the market move up to 3.5, and we’re not going to fight it,” said Salmons, whose book adjusted to Minnesota -3.5 (even). “ It’s the same mentality (we used when making Atlanta -2.5 at Philly). People are going to want to bet the Vikings. The Eagles can get the dog masks ready again, because they’re not gonna get respect from this end of it.”

Conversations among the [...]s at CG about a Minnesota-Philly spread picked up as the Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead Sunday and looked like they were about to put the Saints away.

“Our logic was the Vikings are better than Atlanta, and they play a style that’s suited for cold-weather, so if Atlanta was -2.5 (at Philly), the Vikings have to be more than that," Simbal said. "But at the same time, Philly was very undervalued (vs. Atlanta) – they’re a lot better (with Nick Foles) than people give them credit for."

Salmons, an Eagles fan, stresses Foles has a tougher task in front of him than the one he faced Saturday.

The Atlanta game “set up nicely for him,” Salmons said. “Minnesota looked like they got beat up on the defensive side (Sunday), but going against Brees and going against Foles ... I don’t think Foles has anything like that in him.”

Were Simbal on our side of the counter, he would be enticed by the home dog.

“Everybody’s going to count out the Eagles again, but why can’t they do it?,” Simbal said. “You get Case Keenum in the elements, the crowd’s going to be crazy. I would take the points.”

The total, meanwhile, opened 40 at the Westgate, dropping to 38.5 in short order.

Super Bowl look-ahead lines

The Vikings are a win at Philadelphia away from becoming the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. While the game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis wouldn’t be a typical home game for the Vikes – since the stands wouldn’t be filled with their season-ticket holders – the home-field edge would still be worth 1.5 to 2 points to the spread, Simbal estimates.

Despite those points, Minnesota is listed by CG Technology and William Hill U.S. as a field-goal underdog against the Patriots in what the betting market sees as the most likely of the four potential Super Bowl matchups.

Against Jacksonville, Minnesota has been installed as 4.5-point favorites by both sports books in their look-ahead Super Bowl lines.

The largest spread of the four potential Super Bowls is on Philadelphia vs. New England, with the Pats laying -7 at CG and -6 at William Hill.

The two books are split on Philly-Jax, with CG listing the Jags as the 1-point favorites and William Hill hanging Eagles -1.5.

There are more significant differences on the totals:

Super Bowl 52 Look-Ahead Lines
Matchup CG Technology William Hill U.S. South Point
Minnesota 48 44 -
New England -3 -3 -3.5
Matchup CG Technology William Hill U.S. South Point
Minnesota -4.5 -4.5 -4
Jacksonville 40 40.5 -
Matchup CG Technology William Hill U.S. South Point
Philadelphia 45 47 -
New England -7 -6 -7.5
Matchup CG Technology William Hill U.S. South Point
Philadelphia 38 -1.5 -
Jacksonville -1 42.5 Pick 'em

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