Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:00 AM
Vegas Money Moves - DP
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We get our first postseason look at the No. 1 and 2 seeds in each conference with four NFL Divisional Playoff games this weekend. They're at home. They're all favored. They're supposed to be the best of the best in the league. But betting on them hasn't been very profitable lately. Will it be different this time around?
Since 2010, there's only been one year (2015) where betting all four favorites in this round made money and that was just 2-1-1 against-the-spread. Last season, favorites went 1-3 ATS in this round. Last week the underdogs went 4-0 in the Wild Card round continuing a 14-1 underdog trend dating back to last's years playoffs.
The first betting chalk up to bat is the AFC's No. 1 seeded Chiefs at home as 5.5-point favorites again the sixth-seeded Colts. The Chiefs are on a 1-6 ATS run and have lost their last six home playoff games while the Colts have won 10 of their last 11 aided by a healthy Andrew Luck at quarterback and an amazing offensive line (18 sacks allowed). Whoever wins this game is going to have a nice feel-good story heading into the AFC Championship game.
Bettors are liking the Colts story more. William Hill's Nick Bogdanovich said his biggest need this weekend is the Chiefs to cover. That's been the case at most books, yet there is only two -5's in town. South Point dropped it Thursday and Station Casinos dropped it Friday afternoon. There's a bunch of books staying strong on a dead number like -5.5 when they all have significant Colts risk.
"The Chargers and Colts right now," Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick said about his two biggest parlay risk games. "The other two games we have two-way action. We're also going to need the Unders in the Colts-Chiefs (57), Chargers-Patriots (47.5) and Eagles-Saints (51.5)."
Stations opened the Chiefs total at 56 and have been bet up to 57. Despite snow expected, no one is running to the window to bet 'under' with the Chiefs No. 1 rated offense along with the No. 31 rated defense. There's a 70 percent chance of snow Saturday in Kansas City with 1 to 3 inches expected. Winds are also expected to be 10 to 15 mph.
"The reason we're not at 5 right now is that we took two sharp wagers at -5 and -5.5," said CG Technology VP of risk Jason Simbal. "We briefly went to +6 because of it and immediately got Colts money. Overall, we have more cash on the Colts, about a 1.9-to-1 ratio, but I know there's more KC money out there if I want it."
It's a common practice for books to align themselves with what their sharpest bettors play regardless of risk on the other side.
The best money-line offered in Nevada is Caesars Palace offering +195 on the Colts and Wynn, William Hill and South Point have the Chiefs -220.
Wynn Las Vegas sports book director Doug Castaneda said they need the Chiefs and Patriots most.
The No. 2 seeded Patriots play Sunday afternoon with a crisp 29 degrees expected at Foxboro (minimal wind, no snow). They're four-point favorites over the Chargers,who are getting lots of love from the betting public. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the Patriots -4.5 on Sunday immediately after Los Angeles won at Baltimore and were bet down to -4 Monday morning. Their total has dropped from 48.5 down to 47.5, and it's important to note the Patriots have stayed 'under' in eight of their last nine games.
Caesars will give +175 on the Chargers money-line to win outright and South Point and Boyd Gaming will let you lay a cheap -190 on the Patriots. The Patriots won all eight home games this season (6-2 ATS) and this situation last season against the Titans produced the only favorite to cover in the playoffs. The Chargers are 8-1 both straight-up and against the spread on the road this season.
"The public is on the Chargers," said Simbal. "This is a game I could see us going to -3.5 before moving the Chiefs game."
CG books also have a lot of risk with teasers.
"We're going to need one or two of the big favorites to win big and kill some teasers tied in with the Colts and Eagles," Simbal said. "Most of the season the Chiefs and (NFC No. 1 seed) Saints were two of the most popular public bets, but now they're all on the other side taking the underdogs with parlays, teasers, and straight bets."
They've turned on the normally popular Patriots as well. It could the 4-0 'dog results last week or the current 14-1 run by the 'dogs dating to last year's playoffs, but it's also the story they want to see most. Maybe it's the narrative of Chargers QB Philip Rivers moving on or perhaps the Eagles winning their fifth straight playoff game as an underdog and staying alive for another Super Bowl win.
"The public loves the Eagles on the spread (+8) and money-line (+310)," said Simbal. "I wouldn't mind seeing a Saints blowout. Not only for this week, but also for futures. We have a red number on them where we lose multi-six figures if the Eagles win the Super Bowl."
He said he had a sharp play on the No. 2 seeded Rams at -7, but all the smaller public money is accumulating more with the Cowboys. That's the nightcap on Saturday. The early game is the main concern right now.
"It will be hard for us to win Saturday if we lose the Chiefs game," said Simbal.
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 14 years.