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In almost a near repeat of Wild Card weekend, the first three Divisional Playoff games last weekend were snoozers with little drama. But then the weekend finale came Sunday evening and reminded us of why we love the NFL so much.

The Jets 17-14 win as a 9.5-point underdog at San Diego doesn’t match the shootout of the Packers-Cardinals with scores, but it topples that Wild Card game by being a major upset and unveiling this season’s Cinderella story.

No one believed Rex Ryan two weeks ago when a reporter asked him what he thought about the Jets 50-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl and he replied that they should be the favorite because they have the No. 1 defense and the No. 1 running game.

Just about everyone laughed. But so far, we know the Bengals and Chargers aren’t laughing, as they’ve experienced first hand what a good combination those two traits are in the playoffs.

MGM MIRAGE Race and Sports Book Director Jay Rood likes what the Jets are doing, but can’t be faulted if he doesn’t root for them.

“Of the four teams remaining, we do the worst with the Jets on futures (to win the Super Bowl),” said Rood, “Maybe we all should have listened to Rex Ryan a little closer.”

The Jets’ supposed weakness in rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has been somewhat of a strength during the playoffs. Under the Jets style of play, Sanchez only has to make a few passes, and must protect the ball, which he has done.

Sanchez’s second straight playoff win has already tied him with Hall of Famer Joe Namath in career playoff wins and has matched what Joe Flacco did last season with Baltimore as a rookie.

Baltimore happened to be where Rex Ryan was coaching last season before getting his first head coaching job with the Jets. While some grumbled when Ryan chose Sanchez to be the starter during pre-season, Ryan knew the job could get done by witnessing how the Ravens protected Flacco in a similar situation under their offensive scheme.

Next week the Jets visit Indianapolis for the AFC Championship game, which will be the Jets second visit to Indy. The first time around got a lot publicity as the Colts took out their starters in the third quarter with a slim lead, despite going for the possibility of a perfect season. The Colts were 14-0 at that juncture, but once the starters came out the Jets nasty defense ate up back-up QB Curtis Painter and ran away with what would be a pivotal game for the Jets to make the playoffs.

“I really hated it when they handed the Jets that game,” said Rood talking more from a football fan standpoint than a bookmaker who loses if the Jets go all the way. “I think we all wanted to see the Colts make a run at the undefeated season. It’s just one of those things that kind of grasps everyone’s attention.”

The MGM-MIRGE books opened the Colts a minus-7 (-120) favorite in next Sunday’s game against the Jets and saw Colts action immediately moving to minus-7 (-125) while other books around Las Vegas were already at Colts -7½-flat.

Much like last week’s Cardinal-Packers game, the success of the sports book’s weekend hinged on the weekend finale. In the first three games, all three favorites won and covered easily.

“Even though we had a great mix of two-way action on every game, the four-way favorite parlay is always a public favorite even though the last three-year trend was showing underdogs having outright success in this round,” Rood said.

The three year trend Rood talked about saw dogs go 7-5 straight up and 10-2 against the spread in the Divisional playoff round over the last three years, which is likely why all the games were so balanced. All four games saw limited line movement with the exception of the Chargers game which had dog money coming in early dropping the game to minus-7 at some places, but spiking at 9½-points by kickoff, in part, because of adjusting due to all the built up favorite risk going into the Chargers game.

“We just can’t make up the difference on a game that is going to pay off 11 to 1 odds on several tickets no matter how balanced the game is,” said Rood.

NFC championship

The two best teams in the NFC meet with great storylines. The New Orleans fans and their love affair with their Saints will be welcoming the Brett Favre led Vikings. Both are almost unbeatable in their domes and both are looking to win their first ever Super Bowl.

“The Vikings-Saints game is going to be the glamour game with all the action,’ said Rood, “That’s the game everyone has wanted to see between the top two seeds in the NFC and I think they are going to bet this game pretty good on both sides.”

The M Resort and Spa’s sports book posted the first line on the NFC title game in Las Vegas, just a few minutes prior to Station Casinos and MGM MIRAGE properties, with about a full quarter of football remaining in the Vikings blowout. The M opened the Saints a 3-point favorite and were bet up the ladder as they moved the game minus-3 (-125) until finally moving the game to 3½-points flat as everyone else had.

“We saw some good action already on the Saints and have bumped the game to four,” Rood said.

The last time two conference No. 1 seeds advanced to the Super Bowl was in 1993 when Dallas met Buffalo; and we now have that possibility if the Colts and Saints should win, but would that game be the best game for Nevada handle?

“I would think the Saints against the Colts may create the most interest from a statistical point of view with the best records and their great passing games, but I also believe getting a New York market team in the Super Bowl against anyone may create an added outside interest that the Colts couldn’t bring,” said Rood, “On the other hand, you couldn’t go wrong with a Brett Favre-Peyton Manning Super Bowl either.”

Super Bowl Talk

Here’s a look at the possible Super Bowl lines I made after having a Sunday night conversation with Las Vegas Sports Consultants Senior Oddsmaker Dan O’Brien and Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook‘s Jeff Sherman.

A lot can obviously change, based on what happens in their games Sunday, in particular with the Jets. I

• Colts (-2½) vs. Saints – O’Brien liked the game a little lower. Sherman likes -3

• Colts (-3) vs. Vikings – O’Brien liked the game lower, Sherman likes the game closer to 3 (-120).

• Vikings (-6) vs. Jets – O’Brien likes the number, maybe higher. Sherman thinks it will be closer to the 4.5 range.

• Saints (-7) vs. Jets – O’Brien was thinking 7 or 7½ and Sherman was closer to 6.

Current Super Bowl Line

Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook re-opened the Super Bowl Line with the AFC -3.

Odds to Win Super Bowl

Las Vegas Sports Consultants adjusted Super Bowl Future Book odds

Colts 6/5

Saints 8/5

Vikings 7/2

Jets 7/1

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts

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