NFL’s Baltimore Ravens victory bails out books

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Las Vegas sports books had a winning Divisional Playoff round as the favorites went 2-2 ATS with all four totals going OVER the number, but it was a drastically different story from Saturday to Sunday.

Saturday was a huge win for the house with the Broncos getting beat outright as a 9-point favorite. However, the Patriots / OVER combination on Sunday spurred a big loss.

Since the Ravens win was so massive for the sports books, the victory on Saturday was enough to overcome a losing Sunday. The Broncos 38-35 defeat was the root to all the success. In addition to killing all the popular parlays, the setback also wiped out the majority of the weighted teasers and large money-line favorite parlays.

The most popular side on Saturday night with parlay bettors was the Packers grabbing three points at San Francisco. That didn’t work out so well, either, even though it looked good early on as the 49ers returned an interception for the first touchdown of the game.

The Packers led 14-7 after the first quarter, but then the Colin Kaepernick show began. Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and the Packers couldn’t stop him in the 49ers’ 45-31 win.

On Sunday there was enough straight bet money on the Falcons to push the game from -2.5 to -3, but the majority of the public sided with the Seahawks. Seattle had wowed everyone over the last two months with strong play on both sides of the ball, while the Falcons and QB Matt Ryan had lost their last three playoff games.

Most books beat the straight bet action, but when the Seahawks scored 21 fourth quarter points, it put them in a situation to cover the short spread, even after the Falcons kicked the winning field goal to win 30-28.

All of that Seattle risk, along with everything that was left over from Saturday, flowed into the Patriots, who were 9.5-point home favorites over the Ravens. Of the four possible scenarios, Patriots to the OVER was the worst for the books. Of course, it came through rather easily in 41-38 win. The total had been bet up from 48 to 50.5 by kickoff.

Some sports books reported that 70 percent of their action on the Patriots-Texans game was on the Patriots, which was almost the same amount that sided with the Broncos on Saturday.

Championship Games

We’re looking at a 4-point road favorite in the NFC, something rarely seen. Generally, the team with home field in a title game is the higher rated team. And if the teams are considered equally rated, it’s at least three points because of the home field. But in this case, the books are basically saying the 49ers are seven better than the Falcons. If they played in San Francisco, the 49ers are 10 better.

The Niners opened 3-point favorites as soon as the Falcons beat the Seahawks and money immediately started piling in on them forcing a move to 3.5 and eventually four on Monday.

The price is way over inflated, and the books know it. But part of what they have to do is gauge their market. They know the public loves the 49ers and were just impressed by Kaepernick’s Saturday night performance and, making matters worse, the public doesn’t like the Falcons at all.

The spread should probably be a pick ’em, maybe even Falcons -1, but they knew where the bets would be coming so they took boosted it up to the key number believing that they’d probably be going down to 2.5 with sharp money taking the three – still posting it high just to put their foot in to test the waters. They were right, but had to be surprised when 49ers money still came pouring in.

The same thing happened with the Patriots game, which should probably be -7.5, but was boosted high at 9.5 just because of knowing where the majority of the money was going to come in.

Having said all that, I still couldn’t take the Falcons in this game, but I could see betting OVER 48.5 as a great play. Kaepernick has turned the 49ers into an OVER team. They have gone OVER the total in their last five games and eight of nine.

However, playing the value with the Ravens should provide a win. The Ravens fell short at New England, 23-20, in last year’s AFC Championship as 7-point underdogs and they also beat the Patriots 31-30 in Week three as 3-point home underdogs.

Prediction: 49ers 38-31, Ravens 24-23

Manning fails

You hate to kick nice-guy Peyton Manning when he’s down, but let’s just call his performance Saturday at home as a 9-point favorite against the Ravens what it is – a choke job. Some of the blame can be given to Champ Bailey for getting dusted by Torrey Smith on two scores, but it ultimately came down to Manning. And it wasn’t just because of his costly two costly interceptions, but the way his confidence waned as he was put under the microscope with the game on the line.

Instead of rising to a level expected of a veteran quarterback of his stature in the crunch, he became conservative and cautiously tried to drive his team downfield in overtime with dump-offs to a back-up running-back instead of precision out-passes to his wide-outs, and it ultimately cost him. It also cost his backers in Las Vegas who believed his 11 game winning streak in the regular season and home field throughout the playoffs was enough to carry Denver to the Super Bowl. In reality, we can call Manning a front runner who played a lot of bad teams over that streak.

Now Manning is 0-4 in playoff games where the temperature was below 40 degrees. He also gave the Broncos only their fourth home playoff loss against 13 wins all-time. Say what you will about Tim Tebow, but he won his only home playoff game for the Broncos and did so in dramatic fashion when the game was on the line. 

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].

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