Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Vegas Money Moves - DP

The past two weeks of NFL action has seen the Patriots dynasty take a severe blow at the hands of quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill while likely league-MVP Lamar Jackson was resting with Week 17 off as Baltimore received a 'bye' for the Wild Card weekend for being the No. 1 seed in the AFC. 

So the annual question at this time of year comes up again: Will the Baltimore Ravens be rested or rusty in Saturday night’s Divisional Playoff game as 9.5-point home favorites against the Tennessee Titans?
The Ravens come in as William Hill’s 9/5 betting favorite (Bet $100 to win $180) to win Super Bowl 54 in February. The club enters the postseason on a 12-game winning streak and they set the NFL rushing record this season with 206 yards per game. The Ravens had nothing to gain by playing Jackson in a Week 17 home game against the Steelers, which back-up QB Robert Griffin III led to a 28-10 win, but now it’s been three weeks since Jackson played. Rest or rust?
Baltimore running back Mark Ingram also didn’t play the last two weeks, but he was injured and practiced during the week and expects to play Saturday. It’s expected to be 60 degrees in Baltimore with a chance of light showers and winds up to 13 mph which figures to call for a running game, and the Ravens have the best of all-time. The past teams I’ve seen fail most in this type of rest situation has been teams relying on the passing game more. I wouldn’t expect the Ravens running game to be rusty at all and the public appears to agree as they’ve been jumping all the Ravens who outscored opponents 34-17 this season while going 10-6 against the spread (ATS).
“It’s very early,” said South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews on Friday, “But right now we need the Titans pretty good.”
The Titans come off a 20-13 win at New England (-4.5), a game where the Titans ran for 201 yards. But the win was sort of diminished with the Patriots falling to the Dolphins at home the week prior in a must-win game to earn the No. 2 seed and the bye. Everyone kind of had the feeling the Patriots were in trouble down the stretch and it showed in the loss.
The Ravens have already been the most popular parlay side of the weekend and the two-team teasers are also weighted on the Ravens side.
“We’re going to have to knock out one of those two big 7-point teaser games", said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich. That will be the key (to the winning or losing this weekend).
The beauty of a teaser in the playoffs at this stage is that you get one of the best eight teams in the NFL likely to play close to their side and total rating in what is the most sound line of any sport and then you take 7-point off the number. In the case of the Ravens and Chiefs, a teaser takes them below all the most key numbers in the NFL: 7, 6, 4, and 3. It’s a very attractive proposition, especially considering it’s not uncommon for all teaser sides of a game during this round to cash. The books often get destroyed with teasers in the Divisional Playoff round because of the all-way teaser win -- no losing side.
I’m surprised the bean-counters haven’t taken this option away in the playoffs. “Let me get this straight,” the typical bean counter might say, “we have a prop in the casino where it’s possible we could lose all four possible ways in a game?”
One book even factored in a line move regarding their teaser risk.
“We were at Ravens -10 EVEN earlier in the week and got some 'dog money pushing us down to -9.5, but I just went back to -10 EVEN in part to protect against the teasers,” said CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso. “Of course, we can play with the money-line as well on game day to even things out some more.”
By moving the Ravens to -10, it makes a 7-point teaser stop at -3 rather than -2.5. If the game lands Ravens 3, it’s a push and since there is no one-team teaser price to reduce to on the pay chart, it’s a refund on all two-team teasers whether the other leg of it wins or losses. Many people throw away teaser tickets when a side pushes and another loses. 
Wynn sportsbook director Doug Castaneda has been getting a lot of the same public play everyone else has, but one side stands out for his book to win based on an accumulation of public play.
“Kansas City, the Chiefs -9.5,” he said. That’s the one.”
The Chiefs don’t have a great postseason history with bettors who have gone just 2-10 ATS in their last 12 playoff games. They’ve also gone just 1-7 ATS in their last eight home playoff games. And they lost at home to the Texans in Week 17, 31-24, after taking a 17-3 first-quarter lead. However, the Chiefs from the last six weeks of the regular season have looked incredible going 6-0 ATS and the defense putting things together to help keep the total under in five of those games. The total is 51 for this one with Sunday morning’s forecast showing 35 degrees with a slight chance of rain and no wind.
The Divisional Playoff round gets started Saturday afternoon at San Francisco when the Vikings visit the No. 1 seed in the NFC as seven-point underdogs.
“They (respected money) laid the 49ers -6.5 with us and took the Vikings +7 +105,” said DiTommaso. “I can’t see us moving off the 7.”
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins comes off his first playoff win while the 49ers come off a bye but ended the season with two playoff-like games in wins over the Rams and Seahawks. 
While the 49ers-Vikings action is below the two 9.5-point games at most Las Vegas sportsbooks, up north in Nevada it’s getting lots of attention.
“As usual in Reno, we always need to beat the 49ers, but a close second is beating the Ravens,” said Atlantis Reno sportsbook director Marc Nelson.
Sunday’s late game has the Seahawks at the Packers where the weather looks to be one of the main storylines with temperatures at 21 degrees expected with light snow and no wind. The Packers have been bet up from -4 to -4.5.
“We had a sharp guy lay -4 with the Packers, but other than that it’s been an evenly bet game,” DiTommaso said. 
The Packers have covered seven of their last eight against winning teams while the Seahawks have proved to be road warriors. Including the Seahawks' 17-9 win at Philadelphia last week, they’re 8-1 on the road this season (6-2-1 ATS) and 13-3-1 ATS in their last 15 road games overall.
As soon as those four games are posted all the attention will then move onto Monday night’s College Football Playoff Championship game, where LSU is a six-point favorite over Clemson. What’s odd about the number is that Clemson was -1 in possible match-ups before the semifinals. It’s the largest adjustment from one game to the next I’ve ever seen in a title game. The public knows what they like and they absolutely love LSU and QB Joe Burrow after scalping Oklahoma the way they did. It’s all built-in luxury tax added to the number and bettors are still laying the inflated number. Bogdanovich says his William Hill books have written tickets at a 4-to-1 ratio on LSU and the actual cash taken in is 8-to-1 on LSU.

Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 15 years.

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