LAS VEGAS – After experiencing a hiccup with the Patriots/Over result on Saturday night, the sports books here bounced back with the NFL results on Sunday.
The big result for the books was the Jaguars’ 45-42 upset of the Steelers after closing as 7-point road underdogs and plus-270 on the money line. The books didn’t mind paying those money-line bettors as it meant they killed all teasers and parlays including the popular Steelers (and taking away a lot of that liability heading into the final game of the weekend).
But then the wild ending to the Vikings’ 29-24 victory over the Saints also ended up in the books’ favor on Stefon Diggs’ “Minnesota Miracle” 61-yard, catch-and-run TD as time expired. That put it right on our ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Line of Vikings -5 (though several closed -5.5), so we’re grading it as a push and that’s certainly what a lot of bettors got. However, sports books were reporting after the game that they took so much action on the Vikings -5.5 that it actually helped them that the Vikings didn’t cover, though they did lose to the over as it was sitting on the closing total of 47 points with the Saints' prior lead of 24-23.
So, with the push/over result against the closing lines in the Saints-Vikings game, underdogs went 1-0-1 ATS Sunday, 2-1-1 ATS for the divisional playoff weekend and lead 6-1-1 ATS so far in the NFL playoffs (note: if you had Saints plus-5.5 and want to say the dogs are 7-1 ATS, go ahead). Overs went 2-0 Sunday, 3-1 on the divisional playoff weekend and are back to .500 at 4-4 so far in the playoffs. Bookies smile about those overall results, too.
(Another note: early wagering has made New England a 9-point home favorite over Jacksonville in next Sunday’s AFC Championship Game with an over/under of 46.5 points while Minnesota is wavering between being a 3- or 3.5-point road favorite at Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game with an over/under of 38.5.)
The Jaguars dominated the Steelers on both sides of the ball to start Sunday’s early game in Pittsburgh and jumped out to a 21-0 lead. The Steelers were able to cut it to 28-14 at halftime, but the Jaguars covered as 4-point, first-half underdogs as it flew over the first-half total of 24 points (note: it also actually flew over the game total of 41 points by halftime).
The Steelers – who were installed as 7.5-point, second-half favorites – continued to rally after halftime but came up short. However, for those halftime bettors, they did win the second half, 28-17, covering the second-half spread on an otherwise “meaningless TD” with :01 left in the game to make it a 45-42 final. It also flew over the second-half total of 24.
Sunday’s second game also looked like a blowout early with the Vikings building a 17-0 lead by halftime to cover as 3-point, first-half faves as it stayed under the first-half total of 23. That made first-half faves 2-1-1 ATS this weekend (the Falcons -1 pushed with their 10-9 halftime lead over the Eagles and the Steelers were the loser) and 4-3-1 ATS so far in the playoffs while first-half over/unders are 4-4.
The second-half line was pick ‘em with an over/under of 23.5 and a fantastic finish did not look like it was in the offing even after the Saints cut it to 17-7 by the end of the third quarter. However, another Michael Thomas TD from Drew Brees cut it to 17-14 with 13:09 to play. Kai Forbath extended Minnesota’s lead to 20-14 on the Vikings’ next drive, but the Saints took a 21-20 lead (putting it over the second-half total of 23.5) on Alvin Kamara’s 14-yard TD reception with 3:01 remaining.
But that was ho-hum compared to what was still to come. Forbath made a 53-yard FG to put the Vikings back ahead (but still not covering) at 23-21 with 1:29 to play only to have Brees march the Saints right back down the field for a go-ahead 43-yard FG by Will Lutz to give the Saints a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds remaining. That looked like a winner for all Saints’ backers, including those taking the money line around plus-185.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, the Vikings got off to a false-start with a penalty to back them up to the 20 and then a Case Keenum-to-Diggs 19-yard pass moved the ball to their own 39. After two incompletions, the Vikings only had 10 seconds (and no timeouts) to try to get into field-goal range. Keenum threw to Diggs on the right sidelines around the Saints’ 35-yard line and it looked like the Vikings would have their FG chance, but a missed tackle allowed Diggs to run down the sideline, into the end zone for the winning TD and into NFL playoff immortality.
Understandably, there was chaos as the Vikings rushed the field and the Saints retreated to their locker room. As we posted on Twitter, the NFL requires teams scoring in such circumstances to attempt the conversion (or at least snap the ball) and the extra point would have great importance to many bettors with the score sitting on 29-24. After the refs reviewed the scoring play and cleared the field, some Saints returned from the locker room but it would have been easy for the Vikings to give their backers the cover, but instead Keenum took a knee, so only Minnesota bettors who layed the -4 or -4.5 earlier in the week were able to cash their bets while those on -5 got a push and those who waited and still bet them at -5.5 were stuck with a loss.
The Saints did win the second half, 24-12, for their backers. Second-half favorites were 2-1 ATS this weekend (not including Saints-Vikings as it was pick ‘em) and 3-3 ATS for the playoffs (Panthers-Saints also isn’t counted as that was also pick ‘em). Second-half overs were 2-0 Sunday, 3-1 on the weekend and 4-4 overall.
Here is Saturday's NFL betting recap in case you missed it.