Underdogs sweep NFL Saturday wild-card games to delight of books

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

January 6, 2018 11:00 PM
Titans QB Marcus Mariota finishes the rare TD catch from himself in a coimeback victory over the Chiefs.
© USA Today Sports Images

LAS VEGAS – Before the NFL wild-card games started Saturday, Westgate Las Vegas’ Jay Kornegay said his book needed at least one of the underdogs to cover. Golden Nuggets race & sports book director Tony Miller posted a similar sentiment on Twitter.

They both got their wish – as well as probably every other bookmaker in town – as the Tennessee Titans rallied to upset the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 as 9-point road underdogs in Saturday afternoon’s first game and then they received a bonus with the Atlanta Falcons knocking off the Los Angeles Rams 26-13 as 6-point road dogs in the nightcap.

On Friday’s “My Guys in the Desert” show on VSiN, the South Point’s Jimmy Vaccaro talked about how it was setting up as a potentially scary weekend for the books with all the home favorites being teasable under a field goal. If the favorites were to sweep like they did last year, it would be ugly for the books.

The Chiefs jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Titans in the first quarter and looked even more in control as they took a 21-3 lead into halftime. They easily covered as 5.5-point first-half faves and I was in the Westgate Theater when it went nuts as Alex Smith hit Demarcus Robinson with a 14-yard TD pass with 3 seconds left before intermission to put it over the first-half over/under of 22 points (a field goal would have left it under).

However, the Titans dominated the second half, winning it 19-0 as 0.5-point underdogs (though it stayed under the second-half total of 21), to pull out the 22-21 upset at plus-360 on the money line. But the books didn’t mind paying out the money line in order to kill a lot of KC parlays and teasers as well as the point-spread wagers (the Chiefs were bet up from -7.5 to -9 at a lot of books).

So, the house was, well, playing with house money when the Falcons and the Rams took the field. The underdogs Falcons were the right side the whole game as they went out to a 13-0 lead before the Rams cut it to 13-10 by halftime (with the Falcons still covering the first half as 3.5-point underdogs. In the second half, Matt Bryant added two more field goals (he had four in the game) to open up a 19-10 lead and then, after the Rams cut it to 19-13 with a FG of their own, Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones with an 8-yard TD pass to pretty much put it out of reach at 26-13 (though since it’s the Falcons, they almost let the Rams get back in the game but the Rams' key drive had a touchdown overturned by replay). The Falcons closed as an average of plus-210 on the money line around Vegas after I saw them as high as plus-260 at the South Point on Thursday.

The Falcons also won the second half 13-3 to cover as 6-point, second-half dogs as it stayed under the second-half total of 24.

So, underdogs are 2-0 SU & ATS so far in the playoffs (after going 0-4 SU & ATS last year) and unders are also 2-0. First-half faves/dogs are 1-1 ATS with first-half over/unders also 1-1. Second-half dogs are 2-0 ATS and second-half unders are also 2-0.




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