Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Vegas Money Moves - Title Games

It’s Championship Sunday in the NFL where the initial spreads have traded places with the Chiefs opening number of -7.5 against the Titans dropping to -7 while the 49ers opener of -7 has been bumped up to -7.5 at most Nevada sportsbooks. Not everyone is all about the favorites as the Titans are getting some respect after beating an AFC Division winner each of the past three weeks, which includes the No. 1 seeded Ravens who were Super Bowl favorites at the time. However, the 49ers are very popular so far and it’s not hard to understand the logic.

If I told you the Packers controlled the ball over 35 minutes in their Nov. 24 meeting at San Francisco with Aaron Rodgers not throwing an interception and the Packers holding a 19-16 first down edge, you might be inclined to say the 49ers lost. But the box score doesn’t tell the entire story of the 49ers 37-8 beatdown, which happens to be the last Packers loss of which they have now won six straight since heading into Sunday.

The spread in the earlier meeting was 49ers -3, which is basically saying the two teams were equal on a neutral field before giving the 49ers a home-field edge. In Sunday’s game with the winner going to the Super Bowl, the 49ers have been bet up to -7.5. The 49ers have lost twice since then, and again, the Packers have won all six games since.

It’s a curious swing from -3 back then to -7.5 now, but between public perception, what each team did in their last game, and the stakes being so high, +7.5 is the number books hope to attract Packers money with. Most people agree the 49ers deserve to be the Super Bowl favorites and most people know what happened in the last meeting when the 49ers defense forced the Packers to go 1-for-15 on third-down conversions.

William Hill sportsbooks have seen 79 percent of the cash bet on straight bets taking the 49ers while also getting 70 percent of the tickets written.

“We haven’t had any sharp play on either game from what I can see,” said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich. “A split on the day (one favorite, one dog) would be best for us. One dog winning outright would be good, but not both.”

Up north at the Atlantis Reno, which is 49ers country, director Marc Nelson has seen some sharp play on the same game.

“We’ve had sharps on both sides of the 49ers game,” Nelson said. “We will definitely need both dogs, but need at least one, as usual.”

CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso saw respected money play earlier in the week.

“They laid the 49ers at -7 with us a few times and we’ve also attracted Titans money whenever we’ve gone to +7.5 (-115),’ DiTommaso said.

The money-line wagers at William Hill so far are typical for all big games with the underdog getting most of the play. The Titans (+280) have 83 percent of the tickets written while only getting 53 percent of the overall straight bet cash. The Packers (+290) have 79 percent of the tickets written and 56 percent of the cash.

The public is betting 'over' in both games at William Hill in terms of tickets written but they’ve gone 'under' 52.5 in the Chiefs game at a 54 percent clip in actual cash wagered. The 49ers game has 73 percent of the cash bet on 'over' 45 total points.

The popular four-team parlay and teaser the books will hope to beat is both favorites and both 'overs'.

“Our best scenario Sunday is the Packers and 'under',” said DiTommaso who was bet up to 45.5 Thursday night with a large 'over' wager. The Westgate Superbook has the highest total of 46.5 in Las Vegas.

The books will also have dozens of props to post as well which infuses an extra batch of cash flow that doesn’t necessarily coincide with the way people bet the game side and total itself. If the books lose on the games, they have a fallback on the props to help pull them out of the hole.

Another source of additional cash posted that will help boost the win on Sunday is AFC and NFC Championship futures posted. It’s a large number, especially for the strip properties that have thousands of guests churning daily with quite a few taking a souvenir futures ticket of two home for someone.

It’s hard for the books to lose at futures, but when a surprise team like the Titans has a chance to win the conference and Super Bowl, it puts the expected futures win in jeopardy. The Chiefs and 49ers are the best futures scenario for most bet shops. Consider that the Titans were offered at 150/1 odds on Nov. 5 at the Westgate Superbook and 300/1 to win the Super Bowl.

“We lose a little bit to the Titans in AFC futures, but do well with the other three teams,” said DiTommaso. “Our Super Bowl futures are all looking good with the Packers being our best scenario.”

The Titans playing their fourth straight road game against all four AFC Division Champions has the most intrigue, at least for me it does. It’s a great underdog story with Ryan Tannehill taking over starting QB duties after a 2-4 start to go 9-3 and be one game away from the Super Bowl. One of those wins was a 35-32 thriller at home against the Chiefs. However, the Chiefs have won and covered the spread in all seven games since then.

The weather doesn't look to be a big deal with Kansas City expected to be 24 degrees, but winds only getting up to 5 mph. Santa Clara will be cloudy and 59 degrees with no wind.

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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