Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Vegas Money Moves - Wild Card
The past two seasons of NFL Wild Card action have seen the underdogs go a combined 8-0 ATS, one season after the favorites went 4-0 ATS. And during the last four Wild Card rounds combined, the total has stayed 'under' in 11 of 16 games.
None of those past trends means much to what will happen during Saturday or Sunday’s games, but it certainly should give bettors something to think about and so far with six days of betting action through Friday, the majority of bettors only seem to be certain on two of the four sides.
"The AFC games are two-way action," said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich, "but the NFC is all Saints and Seahawks."
The gateway to a winning weekend for the sportsbooks appears to be winning Sunday morning’s game with the Vikings at Saints where the Saints have been the most popular side. With Saturday’s two AFC games having split action, the carryover risk will multiply the risk on the Saints to what the risk screen is showing before kickoffs of those games on Saturday.
"Sharp money took the Vikings +8 with us, but others are laying -7.5 with the Saints," said South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews. "Ticket counts are in favor of the Saints at 3-to-1. This is going to be out biggest teaser game of the weekend. We’re trying to keep the money-line high."
The South Point also saw a move on the 'over' going from 46.5 to 49.5. The game is in a dome so weather won’t be a problem and then you have the Saints scoring 34 points or more in six of their last seven games.
Up north at the Atlantis Reno sportsbook, director Marc Nelson is seeing the same thing as Southern Nevada. "We need the Vikings, Patriots, and especially the Eagles," he said.
Should the Saints win by 9 points or more and the game goes 'over' the total, the liability on the Seahawks side Sunday night is going to be huge with several three-and-four team parlays left over from the first three games waiting to cash. It’s the final game to be posted on the Wild Card weekend.
"It’s been all Seattle so far," Andrews said. "We opened -1 and are at -1.5 now, but we’ll probably be at -2 soon. If we’re not -2 by the end of the day, I’d be surprised. I have got some money-line action on the dog, so that’s helping things a bit. Ticket counts have the Seahawks bet at a 3-to-1 ratio so far."
The books will hope to break the trend of Pete Carroll’s Seahawks winning and covering the last five meetings with the Eagles, which includes a 17-9 win at Philadelphia on November 24. The Seahawks have gone 7-1 on the road this season.
Saturday’s games haven’t built up a collective public choice yet like Sunday’s two games have.
"We’ve got tons of business on -2.5 and +3, you know because we don’t move the juice," said Andrews of Saturday’s first game. "Right now we’ve got more on the Bills +3 (straight bets) with the public betting a little more on the Texans. The tickets counts are about even with a slight edge towards the Texans."
The Texans were in a similar situation last season at home as 1.5-point favorites against the Colts and lost 21-7, one of three underdogs to win outright in the Wild Card round. The Bills have stayed 'under' the total in 12 of their 16 regular-season games, but the total in this one has gone up from 41.5 to 43.5.
The last time the Patriots played in the Wild Card round was after the 2009 regular season and they were dominated in a 33-14 home loss to the Ravens. But still, you can never count the Patriots out in the playoffs, right?
"We’re high on the Pats," Andrews said. "We opened them early at -5.5 and moved quickly (to -4.5) with Titans money just because I don’t wait around long on those numbers (dead number of -5, -5.5), but we’re back at -5 with more Patriots action coming in. It’s not a big decision, but the public is leaning Patriots."
The Patriots come off an awful home loss to the Dolphins in a game they desperately needed to avoid having to play in this Wild Card round. Needing to win two games to get to the Super Bowl is obviously easier than having to win three games which is why the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has bumped up the Patriots odds to win the Super Bowl to 16-to-1.
The total has gone from 43.5 up to 44.5 possibly because the Titans have gone 'over' in nine of their last 10 games, a span that coincides with Ryan Tannehill getting the starting QB job. Also, historically the Patriots at home during the playoffs have gone 'over' in nine of their last 10 home playoff games.
A bet I highly recommend this weekend is the two-team NFL teaser, the best value on the board during the NFL regular season, but the value escalates even further during the playoffs because each team plays closer to their true rating. These are the best of the best in the NFL in elimination spots. The NFL ratings the sportsbooks use are so good that adding on 6 or 7 points to the regular number to get past a few key numbers is huge value. In college football, not so much. Nor does a teaser offer value in the NBA or college basketball, which is why the prices are much cheaper compared to the NFL. William Hill books offer one of the best 6-point, 2-team teaser prices in Nevada at -120.
Next week’s divisional round has traditionally been the best round to play teasers because several of the games over the years have been all-way winners -- both sides, 'over,' and 'under' all cover. At times, you could simply pick a two-teamer blindly and still cash. It’s the elite 8, and they usually play close to their side and total number.
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 15 years.