Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Titans bail out Books

Saturday and Sunday’s NFL Divisional Playoffs took bettors on a wild ride of emotions giving almost everyone more entertainment than they could have asked for. The four games played out like an NFL propaganda video showing why pro football is America’s favorite pastime. It had it all, including three favorites winning and covering the spread. 
While the majority of bettors chose correctly with the 49ers, Chiefs, and Packers, they chose wrong with the Ravens which turned out to be the one game Nevada sportsbooks had to beat out to win the weekend. Saturday’s 28-12 Titans win at Baltimore gave the books a huge win, enough to offset anything that would happen in Sunday’s games.
“It was our biggest NFL win so far this season,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay.
The biggest win on a game in 19 weeks of action? That is impressive, but what fascinates me, even more, is how a game can have such volatility to create a huge opportunity for the house to scoop most of the chips. It was the No. 1 seeded Ravens at home who just set the NFL record for rushing yards in a season, coming off a bye, while riding a 12-game winning streak. The spread moved from Ravens -9 to -10 by kickoff.
Where the game got out of hand for the books was the public not respecting the Titans win at New England in the Wild Card round. It was a one-sided game with some books reporting an 8-to-1 ratio on Ravens cash taken in on straight bets. But the heaviest risk of all was the parlays and teasers. The Ravens were the most popular parlay and teaser side of the weekend. They were the root side to most exotic wagers and had they won and covered coupled with Sunday’s results of both favorites and both overs cashing, we’d be talking about how Las Vegas books lost millions.
So when the Ravens went down, the books banked all that outstanding risk tied to all the other games. The big money-line favorites parlays went down, the teasers went down, the parlays went down, and of course, all the straight bets went down. It was a finely crafted game of risk that we’ll be talking about for years. Or maybe not, but anyway, it was a unique situation.
Another big deal was the +400 on the Titans money-line that the Superbook, Circa, MGM, and CG Technology books closed with. Not a lot of faith in that wager, though.  
“Saturday was awesome, but Sunday was break-even,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “If the Seahawks make that late two-point conversion, Sunday would have been another big day.”

MGM books closed the Packers as 4.5-point home favorites against the Seahawks in Sunday night’s game while the Superbook closed -5. Yeah, 5 is a dead number, right? The Seahawks cut the Vikings lead to 28-23 late in the game and had to go for the 2-point conversion, but failed. And just like that, the Packers got the cover. And they deserved it because they outplayed the Seahawks despite quarterback Russell Wilson doing some dazzling things. But for a moment, bettors on either side were on pins and needles of nausea waiting to see if it would be successful or not. And obviously, the books were in the same boat as well.
“The Packers winning by 5 was brutal,” said Atlantis Reno sportsbook director Marc Nelson. “The Titans saved the weekend, an overall winner, but nothing to write home about."    
The Packers 28-23 score also kept it in line for all sides of the teaser to cash, a four-way winner, the only all-way winner of the weekend with large margin of defeats in the other games.  
William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich said the two days of NFL results couldn’t be more different from each other.
“It’s night and day,” he said. “It was a lock four-teamer today (Sunday).”
Chiefs (-10) to the over (51) stacked up with Packers (-4.5) and over (45.5) were the most popular public plays on Sunday. 
Perhaps even more thrilling than the Titans win or the Seahawks 2-point conversion attempt was the Chiefs starting their home game against the Texans in a 24-0 hole. It happened fast, almost too fast for the Texans. The only thing that could go against the Texans with such a big lead would be questionable play-calling by the coach and that’s kind of what happened with Bill O’Brien kicking a field goal on 4th-and-one when they were up 21-0 and then a fake punt deep on their side of the field. 
QB Patrick Mahomes only needs a short window of opportunity to get his groove going and O’Brien gave the Chiefs some momentum. Final score: Chiefs 51-31. It’s the first team in postseason history to win a game by 20-points or more after trailing by 20-points or more. 
The SuperBook posted next week’s AFC Championship Game number with the Chiefs as 7.5-point home favorites over the Titans with a total set at 52. The Chiefs have won and covered their last seven games with their last loss coming at Tennessee on Nov. 10. The cool thing about the Titans run in their last three games with running back Derrick Henry being unstoppable is that they came against AFC division winners. Beating KC would make it four straight wins against AFC division winners.

The game that didn’t have as much sizzle to it like the others was the 49ers 27-10 home win against the Vikings which covered the 7-point spread and stayed under 44.5 total points. The 49ers dominated both sides of the line and had me believing they would beat the Ravens in a tough game if they met in the Super Bowl.
The SuperBook opened the 49ers as 7-point home favorites over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers are the highest-rated team remaining and are definitely the team to beat. But if the Chiefs defense can’t stop Henry and the Titans make the Super Bowl, the 49ers front seven against the Henry would be fun to watch.

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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