VSiN.com senior reporter
LAS VEGAS – The sports books here were off to a great start in the NFL playoffs with underdogs covering the first five playoff games and unders also dominating at 4-1 – and then they had to book a game with the New England Patriots.
After the Patriots were bet from 13.5- to 14-point favorites over the Titans in their divisional playoff game on Saturday night, the books knew they would be cheering for the Titans as well as the under as the betting total was bet from 47 to 48. The Patriots/over parlay result is one that the books are always cheering against, but they lost every which way as New England rolled to a 35-14 victory. Heading into Sunday’s action, underdogs still lead 5-1 ATS while unders are 4-2.
The Patriots started slow and actually fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter, but three second-quarter touchdowns gave them a 21-7 halftime lead as they covered as 7.5-point, first-half favorites as it went over the first-half total of 24 points. First-half faves are now 3-2-1 ATS so far in the playoffs (the push was in the Falcons-Eagles game earlier on Saturday; see below) with first-half unders leading 4-2.
The Patriots extended their lead to 28-7 and then 35-7 in the second half before the Titans scored a garbage-time TD with 1:56 to play to push it over the game total of 48. The Pats still won the second half 14-7 to cover as 5-point, second-half faves but it still stayed under the second-half total of 24. Second-half dogs actually lead 3-2 ATS with no fave/dog in the Panthers-Saints second half last week as it closed pick ‘em; second-half unders are now 5-1.
In the earlier game Saturday, the Atlanta Falcons closed as 2.5-point road favorites over the NFC’s No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles throughout Las Vegas, but it was the Eagles who prevailed 15-10 to improve underdogs to 5-0 ATS at the time. With the Patriots’ win, home teams have also won four straight and are now 4-2 SU but only 2-4 ATS.
It looked like the Falcons were going to cover after closing as 1-point, first-half favorites as they led 10-6 right before halftime, however, the Eagles used a wild richocheted pass to set up Jake Elliott’s 53-yard field goal as the clock expired at halftime to have it push at 10-9 (note: there were plenty of first-half bettors who either had the Eagles plus-1.5 or the Falcons -0.5 who ended up cashing, but for our record-keeping purposes here we grade against the closing lines). The first half still stayed under the closing total of 19.5.
In the second half, the Eagles only managed two more Elliott field goals, but that was enough for the victory as well as winning the second half 6-0 as 1.5-point, second-half dogs. It also stayed well under the second-half total of 20.5.
We’ll return Sunday night to recap the full weekend of NFL action as the conference championship matchups get set with the Patriots and Eagles hosting Sunday’s winners.