Wow, what a weekend!
The Divisional Playoff round was a roller coaster of thrills and emotions for bettors at Las Vegas sportsbooks with two underdogs winning outright, the massive favorite covering and the finale on Sunday night landing on the number due to a set of unusual but fantastic circumstances.
We all witnessed a fantastic piece of NFL history with the Vikings’ improbable 29-24 win against the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium, and for those in Las Vegas the final tally came down to the Vikings’ (-5) decision to forego the extra-point following Stefon Diggs 61-yard walk-off TD reception as time expired.
It was a huge extra-point in town. Books like CG Technology, Wynn Resorts, William Hill and Stratosphere all closed the Vikings -5. According to Don Best, Westgate SuperBook had it 5.5. Boyd Gaming, Station Casinos and MGM Resorts all closed at -5.
“It would have been better if they kicked the extra point,” said MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood shortly after the Vikings took a knee after the game winning TD. “The whole game was Vikings and Under and the way it turned was almost a seven-figure swing.
“We went from winning a little, to losing a lot (with Saints winning), to losing a little on the game,” Rood said. “And for the weekend we went from winning a lot to just having a decent weekend.”
Rood said the MGM Resorts books went to -5.5 on Saturday a few days after sharps had played the Vikings at -3.5 and -4 earlier in the week. The total also rose from 45 to 47.5 by kickoff.
The conversion attempt kneeldown cost everyone in town to some degree. Usually, the numbers -5 and -5.5 are considered dead numbers by bookmakers, but both were alive and kicking Sunday night.
“The turnaround with no extra-point cost us around $200,000,” said CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal, who noted the weekend still went well with the Eagles and Jaguars wins.
“No extra-point hurt,” said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich. “But still, it was a great weekend. The two games we won with (Eagles and Jaguars) were big, but we lost with the Patriots and Saints games.”
Up north in Reno, results were similar.
“Saturday was a good double-digit win percentage,” said Atlantis sportsbook director Marc Nelson. “Sunday was okay and the no extra-point was a killer. We were (Vikings) -5 since Tuesday, never moved. Still, a winner for the day and weekend overall.”
The good weekend continued a great NFL Playoffs for the sportsbooks, a major turnaround from a disastrous 2017 NFL Playoffs when favorites went 9-2 ATS. Through two weekends, the favorites are now 2-6 ATS with four of the underdogs winning outright.
“It was an excellent start with the Eagles win,” Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick said Saturday night. “It was a solid Saturday, but lots of Patriots and Over liability rolls forward into Sunday.”
William Hill’s sportsbooks had 55 percent of its cash in Saturday’s early game laying the points with the Falcons, yet they dropped the number from -3 to -2.5, showing they had respected money on the Eagles. It also stayed in line with a market move several books had made. The Eagles hung on for the 15-10 win.
In Saturday’s late game, there weren’t many believers in the Titans with 83 percent of William Hill’s betting public laying -13.5 and -14 with the Patriots. The Titans scored the first and last TD of the game, but gave up five TDs in between in a 35-14 Patriots win. The Titans’ late TD may have seemed meaningless, but it sent the game Over 48 much to the delight of most bettors.
The rollover into Sunday quickly turned the books’ way when the Jaguars (+7) jumped out to a 21-0 lead at Pittsburgh and held on for a 45-42 win going way Over the total of 41 points. The Golden Nugget, Boyd Gaming and Westgate all closed a city-high +280 on the money-line. MGM’s Rood said sharps were on the Jaguars early in the week at +7.5, which kept him at Steelers -7 during the busy wagering period over the weekend.
The Conference Championship games take place Sunday with the Patriots -9 at home against the Jaguars with Wynn’s John Avello not wasting any time going to -9.5 on Sunday. Others are certain to be there as well, and likely higher.
“Slow, but steady Patriots action since we posted the game,” said Rood. “I think it’ll be -9.5 or -10 soon; tickets are already being bet at a 3-to-1 ratio.”
Sunday’s late game in the NFC didn’t take long to move. The Vikings opened as 3-point road favorites at Philadelphia and it’s been bet up to -3.5 with a total at 38 and 38.5. Despite the Eagles’ impressive home win against the Falcons as a 3-point home dog where QB Nick Foles played well, Philly is being doubted again by oddsmakers.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas sportsbook director and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7. Email:[email protected]