Wentz injury throws another wrench into NFC Championship picture

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Las Vegas sportsbooks got a bit of a break with the Ravens covering the spread in a 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh, which helped most bet shops show a small profit. However, the big story on the day was the Eagles possibly losing QB Carson Wentz for the season with an ACL injury suffered in their 43-35 win at the Coliseum against the Los Angeles Rams.

The books lost a bunch on the decision, but the Wentz injury drastically changes the entire complexion of the NFC and the odds offered around town.

“We bumped the Eagles up to 10-to-1 to win after the injury and we’ll review on Monday to decide where we go from there,” said Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay shortly after the injury. “The NFC really is jam packed with Super Bowl contenders on top and when you look at the other QB’s in comparison to (back-up) Nick Foles you’ve got guys like Case Keenum and Jared Goff. There’s no Tom Brady-type in the NFC.”

Kornegay also noted Cam Newton and Drew Brees, but his point was that the NFC is deep and there are a lot of green QB’s put at the forefront with just four weeks to go until the playoffs start. It’s not such a crazy idea seeing the Rams, Saints or Vikings in the Super Bowl. But on Sunday morning, it appeared the Eagles were on their way, which is why they’re the NFC’s top choice to the Super Bowl at 4-to-1. That’s all up in the air now.

As for the Sunday’s Week 14 action, the books showed a small profit on the day thanks to the Ravens covering the spread that ran up from Pittsburgh being a 5.5-point favorite up to -6 by kickoff. After the first 13 games of the day it ended up being a grind for both the bettors and bookmakers.

“It was pretty much a wash with the Eagles covering,” said MGM Resorts race and sports VP Jay Rood prior to the Steelers decision. “We needed the Eagles early in the week, but it flipped.”

Large money had come in on the favored Rams pushing the number as high as -2.5, but sharp money flooded the books with Eagles money, making them -2 by kickoff. In a playoff-type atmosphere in LA, the Eagles came away with the win, aided by back-up Nick Foles making a few key throws to seal it.

While the action was large on the Eagles-Rams game, one of the major books in town saw a slight dip in volume.

“Handle was short this week from what we’ve been seeing, but that’s typical when the rodeo is in town,” said Rood.

The National Finals Rodeo basically takes over the Strip when their annual trip comes to town, and it’s a pretty cool vibe they bring all over at the casinos, but the reality is the crowd takes over a bunch of rooms and they don’t bet the NFL as much regular folks for some reason. However, Kornegay said he didn’t see as much of a drop off as Rood who has 10 books lined up and down the prime Strip.

“We (needed) the Ravens to show a small profit on the day, and the Steelers make us a small loser. But this has been the lightest action on a Sunday night game all season,” said Rood.

CG Technology books and Station Casinos also reported a small win on the day thanks to the Ravens covers despite both chain of books also taking it on the chin with the Eagles. Philadelphia is now sitting alone atop the NFC at 11-2 (10-3 ATS) following the Panthers’ (+2.5) 31-24 win over the Vikings (10-3).

The Vikings had covered their last seven games and won eight straight prior to the loss. They get to face the hapless Bengals, who lost 33-7 at home in the Jungle to the Bears (+6), a game that turned out well for the house. MGM books had the Bears +230 on the money-line, the highest price among the five underdogs that covered on the day. Favorites went 8-6 ATS and the UNDER cashed in eight of the 14 games.

“One of our biggest losses of the day was the Bills,” said Rood of the Bills’ 13-7 overtime home win against the Colts (+3.5). The total dropped from 40 to 36 because of a wild snow storm in Buffalo where the snow kept packing.

“I think it was one of those things that snuck up on us where both the sharps and us didn’t realize the magnitude of how bad the weather actually was,” said Kornegay. “We were monitoring the weather by the minute, but it was way worse than we expected. And the fact we didn’t get a lot of sharp play on the UNDER shows they didn’t realize it either.”

The Jaguars’ 30-24 home win over the Seahawks (+2.5) turned out to be Station Casinos’ best win of the day.

This was game between two stout defenses that had Jacksonville up 3-0 at the half, making UNDER 40.5 look to be a great bet. But then the floodgates opened as the Jaguars used defense, special teams and offense to secure the win that was much large than the score indicates.

The biggest roar of the day from the sportsbook crowd was when the Packers scored a touchdown in overtime to win 27-21 at winless Cleveland. Sharps loved the Browns again and drove the number down from +3.5 to +2.5, but the public loved the Packers against the hapless Browns.

Most bettors would have lost with the Packers bet by a hook had the Packers simply kicked an OT field goal to win, but the theme stayed true and Cleveland got the worst of it. With the Broncos’ 23-0 against the Jets (-1), the Browns are again the worst cover team in football at 3-10 ATS.

The Broncos are now 3-9-1 ATS.

Other notes from Week 14 saw the 49ers win for the third time in four weeks and two straight behind QB Jimmy Garoppolo with their spirited 26-16 win at Houston. The Chiefs and Chargers stayed tied atop the AFC West at 7-6 with their wins as favorites and the Cowboys buried the Giants (+3.5) in Eli Manning’s return as the starter, 30-10.

Moving forward into Week 15 the big question is about the health of Carson Wentz. The very thing we all love about Wentz, his toughness and willingness to throw his body around for a touchdown, is the very thing that may cost him his season. Hopefully it all turns out well, but based on 10-to-1 adjusted Super Bowl odds, the Westgate is showing they believe he’s done.

The drop off to Foles is worth 4 to 4.5 points.

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