Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 11:23 AM
Underdogs covered all four games during Wildcard Weekend, which meant a bad week for the general public but great news for sharps and Nevada sports books. Making things even better for the books, two of the favorites lost outright. It's become a growing trend for squares to put a bunch of favorites in moneyline parlays because they assume all the favorites are going to win. When both Kansas City and the LA Rams lost last Saturday, sportsbooks were already guaranteed a profit for the week.
Let's see how sharps and the public have been betting this weekend's four divisional round games. I'll take them in kickoff order.
Atlanta at Philadelphia: Some were surprised when Atlanta went up as a favorite of -2.5. It's never happened before that a #6 seed was favored over a #1 seed. Then, early money hit the favorite! Quants who are down on Nick Foles wanted to get in below the key number of three. Though, I have to say that sharps are more interested in the dog plus 3 than they are the favorite -2.5. This was the most heavily bet game of the week as of Friday morning, with a lot more early interest than the others. Much of that is because the tug-of-war around the key number will inspire betting for both sides of the battle at a favored price. The total dropped three points initially, from an opener of 44 down to 41. Some stores are testing 41.5 as Over money is responding to a forecast that may be cold and dry instead of cold and wet. Quants and weather watchers are very happy with positions Under 44, 43, and 42.
Tennessee at New England: The very first number up was New England -14. That got bet down quickly even though the Patriots are often a popular betting team for the public. Dog lovers wanted to make sure they got the key number. Because squares usually don't bet until later in the week, there wasn't an immediate buy back. There may not be either because a forecast for cold, windy conditions makes winning a big blowout more difficult. Squares may just stay satisfied using the Patriots in moneyline parlays that appear to make it "cheaper" to lay the big number. Sharps like the dog at +14, and may still hit them hard on game day if they think +13.5 is going to be the apex. We haven't seen any "weather" bets on this Under though. Tom Brady has performed well in the cold in the past. An opener of 47 is up to 48.
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: Definitely a tug-of-war so far between Pittsburgh -7 and Jacksonville +7.5. There are more sharp syndicates preferring the dog than the favorite at those prices. But, the public wants the home favorite off a bye and in a "revenge" spot off a regular season loss. This is likely to continue until kickoff. Sports books will hope the game doesn't land exactly on the seven, which would be a disaster because all the dog money on the Jaguars would win while the favorite money on the Steelers would push. The opening total of 41 was already low, and hasn't been bet down further because of cold temperatures.
New Orleans at Minnesota: The Vikings opened just above a field goal, and have been bet up through the week to Minnesota -5. There has been some buy back on New Orleans at +5. But, the public seems to like this home favorite with a bye advantage at anything below that price. Even though five isn't a critical number because it's a rare final margin, we have a tug-of-war here between Vikings -4.5 and Saints +5 because either number brings in interested money. Big jump on the Over/Under earlier in the week when an opener of 44 rose to 46. This game is indoors of course, making it easier for offenses to move the ball. Quants, in particular, really like their positions at Over 44 and Over 45.
This whole weekend may see tugs-of-war in all four games.
Atlanta between -2.5 and 3
New England between -13 and -13.5
Pittsburgh between -7 and -7.5
Minnesota between -4.5 and 5
And, it's possible that updated weather analysis will cause line moves on the Over/Unders of the first three games if conditions turn out to be either better or worse than currently expected.
Please monitor the markets through the weekend though. It's possible for a bandwagon effect to get created once the public starts making its presence felt more heavily. And, that can even happen on Over/Unders in the NFL playoffs because squares are spreading their money over fewer games than in the regular season.
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Thanks for reading. Back with you next week.