Coming off their biggest NFL weekend of the year, Las Vegas bookies "gave a little back" to players last week as some key favorites won going away. Among them were the Rams, who bested the Saints by 5 points when laying 3Â½, and the Ravens, which made some big special-team plays to whip the Jets by 14 points when laying 6 points.
Other big games for the players were the Pittsburgh Steelers easily winning at San Diego (although they didn’t make the playoffs), and the Oakland Raiders, who dismantled the Panthers, 52-9, en route to an easy point-spread victory.
"The public beat us up on the Ram game, and they also did well with the Steelers," said Don Williams, sports book director at The Orleans. "We had a great week the previous weekend, but it’s good to see the players cash a few tickets."
Williams added that players were torpedoed on some games, including the Detroit Lions contest, in which Detroit lost outright at home to the Bears while laying 9 points. The players also had trouble with the Philadelphia Eagles, who did just enough to beat the hapless Bengals, 16-7, but couldn’t cover the 10-point line.
As the NFL heads into the Wild Card playoff round, much of the early action is on Miami and Tampa Bay, according to Norm Kelly, supervisor at Sam’s Town sports book.
"Of course it’s still early, but most of the action has come in on the Dolphins and the Bucs," Kelly said. "There’s also been some betting action on the Rams, but not as much as on the other teams."
Kelly said the Rams-Saints game could hinge on whether Saints’ running back Ricky Williams returns to the lineup. "He was on the sidelines the other day, but they probably wouldn’t want to risk him having to come back a week later and play the Rams," Kelly said.
Among the teams that have a first round bye, the Raiders, Colts and Titans — all AFC teams — look like they could contend for a Super Bowl berth.
"The Colts look strong, and they’re very dangerous when their defense is playing well," Kelly said. "The Titans also have a chance to make it back to the Super Bowl, especially if they can get home field advantage with a win tonight (Monday) against Dallas."
Kelly added that the Raiders have the look of a team that could win it all. But they would need quarterback Rich Gannon to be healthy and playing at 100 percent.
Bill Fogg takes
Bill Fogg of the Flamingo Hilton Laughlin held off challenger Rob Akers of The Venetian to win this year’s Bookie’s Battle Point Spread Contest.
Bill finished the season with a stellar 150-94 mark against the point spread (61.5 percent), with Rob finishing with a respectable 146-98 record (59.8 percent).
Going into the final weekend, Week 17, Bill had a three-game lead over Rob. But he left the door open when his picks for the weekend (not counting Monday night’s game) went 6-8.
However, Rob also had a tough time when his picks were only 5-9.
While Bill Fogg won the title, our readers were once again rewarded with an exciting race and plenty of solid picks.
In addition to the excellent selections put forth by Bill and the other leading bookmakers, the Bookies Best Bets proved very popular with readers.
Overall, the Best Bets finished the season with a 34-19 mark, a phenomenal 64.2 percent against the spread.
The won-loss record is remarkable considering the Bookies were required to make their selections a week in advance, and they had to pick a winner in EVERY game.
Although the Bookie’s Battle has ended, bookies will continue to make selections throughout the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. It’s News You Can Get On!