No edge in NFL opening playoff round

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The first weekend of the NFL playoffs wound up being somewhat of a push for Nevada’s sports books.

Results were mixed at various book across the state, but none of them won or lost big. Overall, it looks like a complete wash.

“We broke even in the first game and were a small loser in the second game,” said Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay said of Sunday’s action. “The Eagles winning was our best case scenario but still a loser.”

The first game Sunday saw the Chargers win 23-17 at Baltimore (-3) and the second game was the Eagles’ thrilling 16-15 win at Chicago (-6.5) which paid out +250 on the money line and also killed a large majority of live lingering teasers from the first three games tied to the Bears.

“It was a good weekend for us with the Colts and Eagles as our most notable sides,” said Wynn Las Vegas sports book director Doug Castaneda Sunday night. “The Chargers were a really solid side for the public this morning on both the money line and ATS.”

The Colts (+1.5) won Saturday at Houston, 21-7, and paid out +110 on the money line. The Colts were extremely popular in public plays with parlays and teasers and the win kicked off the beginning of a small tidal wave of risk the books would hope to contain before getting too monstrous.

The late game Saturday saw an all-way teaser win – both sides and both totals – in a 24-22 Cowboys win. Late Seahawks backers who bet +2.5 got a gift back-door cover from Russell Wilson with 1:18 remaining, and then a successful two-point conversion attempt only because their kicker got hurt during the game.

Chiefs vulnerable?

The past five No. 1 seeds in the AFC have advanced to the Super Bowl, but none of them had a defense as shabby as this season’s No. 1 seeded Kansas City Chiefs 31st-ranked squad that allowed 405 ypg and 26 ppg.

Of course, their awful defense has been masked most of the season winning 12 of 16 due to an offense ranked No. 1 in both scoring (35 ppg) and yardage (425 ypg). And that’s the dilemma placed before bettors wagering on Saturday’s Colts-Chiefs divisional playoff game where Kansas City is a consensus 6.5-point favorite (the total is 56.5).

The Colts’ defense ranked No. 11 (339 ypg) and was steady all season helping them win 10 of their last 11 games (7-3-1 ATS). They’re fresh off giving the Texans a beating in front of the Houston fans with the offense gaining 422 yards. Once again, the Colts’ offensive line proved they might be the best in the NFL by not allowing Andrew Luck to be sacked.

Houston’s defensive line was one of its major strengths. The Colts allowed an NFL-low 18 sacks this season. The Chiefs have the worst rated defensive line which has me believing Luck will have all day to find open receivers. The Colts also rushed for 200 yards last week.

The Colts have all aspects of their game in rhythm. They’ve got some serious momentum right now and recent history shows momentum at this stage is huge.

The wild-card round winners produced Super Bowl champions three consecutive seasons with the 2010 Packers, 2011 Giants, and the 2012 Ravens. The Chiefs, with a week off, have been overrated in their last seven games covering just once, a 35-3 win against the lowly Raiders in Week 17.

Then we have some history, such as the last time they met in the playoffs during the 2013 season. The Chiefs jumped out to a 38-10 lead and lost 45-44. Also, a topic all the Chiefs players and coaches will be tired of answering this week is the six straight home losses in the playoffs. Their last home playoff win was engineered by Joe Montana during the 1993 season.

I’ve got the Chiefs a half point better than the Colts in my latest updated ratings and I give the Chiefs slightly better than a 2.5-point home field edge so getting anything above +3.5 has value to me.

I’m on the Colts and also the Over in what should be a shootout.

Pats own Rivers

Tom Brady is looking for his ninth Super Bowl appearance and Philip Rivers is still looking for his first. They’ll square off in Sunday’s divisional round at New England in what will be their ninth head-to-head meeting.

Rivers has gotten the worst of it, going just 1-7 straight-up. His only win came in 2008, 30-10 when he had three TD passes and no picks. In the seven losses, he’s had seven TDs and 10 interceptions. He’s 0-2 in the playoffs against Brady, the last coming in the 2007 AFC Championship game.

However, this 2018 Chargers squad is the best Rivers has been a part of since the end of the LaDainian Tomlinson era ended and it’s only their second postseason appearance in the past nine seasons.

Meanwhile, the Patriots should never be doubted, but it’s obvious Brady and the offense don’t look as sharp or dominant this season. The defense has also had continual issues this year.

I’ve got the Patriots one point better on a neutral field and give the Pats almost three points for home field edge – 8-0 at home this season. That comes out close to Patriots -4. I’ll be rooting for Rivers and the Chargers (+4.5) this week who are now 8-1 ATS on the road this season.

Colts at Chargers next week for the AFC Championship? That’s crazy talk, right?

Barking ‘Dogs

Last season the underdogs went 10-1 ATS during the playoffs with the only cover being the Patriots’ 35-14 win against the Titans as 13.5-point home favorites in the divisional round.

The Eagles were home dogs in both their playoff wins as the No. 1 seed and then they got +4 in the 41-33 Super Bowl win against the Patriots. The away teams went 7-3 ATS and we saw a similar trend last weekend during the wild card round where the underdog road teams were barking loud again going 4-0 ATS for the second consecutive season.

Underdogs are now on an incredible 14-1 ATS run. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a run like this in the NFL Playoffs.

Teaser Pleaser

Just a reminder once again, the fairest wager in the sports book is the two-team NFL teaser.

The NFL ratings the books use are the most sound of all sports. The spreads are tight, so when getting two of the better teams in the league matched-up against each other in the playoffs playing to their fullest capabilities is more likely to happen.

Now add six points to each side or the total. It’s because of that there was a time many shops in Las Vegas didn’t book playoff teasers. The category breakdown for books showed a losing number almost every January with two-team teasers.

Sometimes, all four sides of a game cover like happened Saturday night in the Cowboys 24-22 win. What kind of option is that for the house when there’s a possibility of no way to win among the four options? The side-to-total teaser option is even better because if you’ve handicapped a game well you probably have an idea of how the pace will go. If one thing happens, the other is more likely rather than two separate things having to happen if just betting the sides of two games.

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