Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:06 PM
Vegas Moves - Championships
"Did you hear Tom Brady hurt his throwing hand in practice?"
That's the chatter around sports books all across Nevada the past few days as the weekend pushes us into Championship Sunday.
Is Brady 100 percent? How did he practice Friday? Did he practice Friday?
The New England Patriots starting quarterback is kind of important to the point-spread, which has dropped from being as high as a 9.5-point home favorite against the Jacksonville Jaguars before the injury down to -7.5 shortly after the injury became known.
[...]s want to know more information to protect against sharp info. Bettors are wondering when they should jump in on the Jaguars before some really bad news surfaces. Quite a few have thrown down against the Patriots, a team they're usually siding with. The Patriots have covered 10 of their last 11 games.
The uncertainty of Brady's injury alone is worth 1.5-points of safety speculation. He's almost certain to play Sunday, but maybe at only 85 percent with accuracy and grip possibly being affected. He's worn a glove on his throwing hand while not participating in Thursday's practice and also while being on the field during the start of Friday's practice.
It doesn't hurt to reference what the line would be if Patriots back-up QB Brian Hoyer was starting. Hoyer's only playoff start saw him throw four interceptions in a 30-0 loss when he was the signal caller for the Houston Texans in the 2015 postseason.
"Wow, if Hoyer's starting, I'd be thinking Patriots -2.5, maybe -2.5 EVEN," said CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal.
Talk of no Brady is a bit extreme and the Las Vegas books expect him to play. But the perceptions has certainly changed some betting patterns.
"They took +9 with the Jags before the injury, a sharp guy, so we went to -8.5," Simbal said Friday afternoon.
"Then we got some more play on the Jags after the injury news on Thursday when he didn't practice. We didn't wait long and went to -7.5 and that's where the bulk of the action has been."
Simbal noted that no large action is laying the Patriots, but the smaller money has been on them to even things out.
"The big differnce here making us need the Patriots right now is a lot of money-line wagers on the Jags," said Simbal, who opened the Jaguars +350 and now it's -335/+275.
"Even with a healthy Brady, the Jaguars top-ranked pass defense with it's pass rush (55 sacks) is the same kind of formula teams like the Jets in the past with Rex Ryan, and the Ravens and Broncos have shown to give Brady problems."
Simbal says the best Super Bowl for Las Vegas from all business aspects in all departments is the Patriots and Vikings, but he wouldn't mind the Jaguars getting there for his book.
"A Jacksonville win wouldn't be all bad for us, though," he said. "They were the least bet team in our Super Bowl futures coming into the season and although we have a few tickets out there at 100-to-1 odds, we're close to winning seven-figures with them if they do win the Super Bowl."
Because of the Patriots being over a TD favorite, naturally, they're a favorite with teaser bettors getting +6, +6.5 or +7 on the exotic wager paired with one or more other options.
"The Patriots are the biggest risk on the teasers this week," Simbal said. "It's the main link tied into both sides of the other game and both sides of the totals."
In the late game, the Eagles are hosting the NFC Championship as the No. 1 seed, but oddly, the Vikings are three-point road favorites.
The last time the road team was favored at a No. 1 seed in the championship round was the Patriots at Denver (+3) two seasons ago with Von Miller and the Broncos constantly pressuring Brady and winning 20-18. The No. 1 seeds are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven conference championship games.
As of Friday, the sharps are taking the perceived value with the Birds, but the public is laying it with the Vikings.
"Most of our sharp action comes across on the phones and we have two-times the action there taking the Eagles," said Simbal, "but over-the-counter wagers, which are mostly smaller wagers from fans, are on the Vikings and have been three-times more than the Eagles."
At one point in the season, before starting QB Carson Wentz was lost for the season, the Eagles were the NFC's highest rated team. There was an immediate 4.5-point adjustment made when Philly turned to back-up Nick Foles.
After Foles looked awful against Oakland and Dallas to close the season out, the Eagles rating dropped even more (-4.5) heading into the playoffs on an 0-3 run against the spread.
"I think the start of the Eagles being underrated here is when the Falcons were overrated last week," said Simbal. "And let's be honest about the Vikings, they really lost last week and had trouble with the Saints pass rush while blowing a 17-0 halftime lead at home, and the Eagles front seven is better."
Foles was a magnificent field manager in the 15-10 win against the Falcons, but there was no bump up in the Eagles rating. It's like the Falcons game never happened or answered some questions about Foles, who has now practiced with the Eagles first-string offense the past six weeks.
Last season in this round saw both favorites win and cover, easily, with the 'over' happening in both. It was a very public day.
Enjoy the games and be sure to check back daily for Super Bowl updates from Las Vegas sports books over the next two weeks.
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 13 years.