Bookmaker Roundup: Sportsbooks Are Actually Cheering on the Patriots in the Playoffs


Winslow Townson, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tom Brady

Jan 13, 2019, 07:00 AM EST
  • After seeing underdogs go 3-1 in the wild-card games, bettors are throwing their support behind them again this weekend.
  • One underdog, the Chargers, are seeing so much support that bookmakers are actually rooting for the Patriots on Sunday.

LAS VEGAS — The sportsbooks in Las Vegas are hoping for a little bit of a bounce-back weekend in the Divisional Round.

The general consensus around town was that, while the books generated a huge handle for the wild-card games, none of the oddsmakers I spoke to indicated that last weekend was a particularly good one for the guys on the other side of the window.

The house took a hit thanks to the Colts cashing on the moneyline against Houston, though it won on that game staying under, and generated a small profit when the Cowboys killed all the Seahawks moneyline bets.

Sunday was even worse for most sportsbooks as the Chargers’ upset over Baltimore killed any profits from Saturday and the house took a significant hit when the Eagles defeated the Bears as 6-point underdogs.

Had Bears’ kicker Cody Parkey made the field goal on the final play of the game, most sportsbooks would have seen a significant profit with the Bears winning but not covering the spread.

This weekend presents another challenge for both bettors and the book as we have games that feature four live underdogs once again. After watching three of the four underdogs win last weekend, most sportsbook managers I spoke to expect bets to fly in on the pooches again this weekend.

>> All odds as of 10 a.m. ET on Friday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs (-5) | Over/Under: 57

The Colts are riding the hot-hand of quarterback Andrew Luck, who absolutely decimated Houston’s well-renowned defense last Saturday. If Indianapolis wants to continue its fairy-tale ride, it will need to upset Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on the road on Saturday afternoon.

The betting market for this game is certainly interesting as the Chiefs have been a public team all season, but recreational bettors are fickle and seem to believe in the Colts after watching their magnificent performance last weekend.

“Kansas City has been the public team all year. Almost every week we needed whoever the Chiefs were playing,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk at CG Technology, said. “So now the Chiefs are hosting a playoff game and what happens? The public is suddenly against them.”

Public bettors may be easily swayed by last weekend’s games, but professionals are seeing the value created by recency bias.

“The Colts are getting a majority of the bets in terms of ticket count. About twice as many bets right now are on Indy taking the points, and even way more bets on the moneyline as you would expect at +205,” Simbal continued. “But the move has actually come on the Chiefs. We took some decent-sized bets on Kansas City so far. This game was at KC -5 and the sharps laid the 5. Then it sat at -5.5 for a while and they laid the 5.5 so we went to -6 a little while ago (on Thursday) so some of the sharper bets are still laying the points on the favorite. However, nobody seems interested in taking the 6 so we might drop the number back to -5.5 if we can get a little more Colts money throughout the day.”

Everybody seems to be betting the underdog at the Westgate SuperBook, as well.

Andrew Luck celebrates against the Houston Texans. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports

“Most of our action so far has came in on the Colts. The public normally likes what they saw last week and the Colts didn’t disappoint,” Cameron Coombs, a supervisor at the SuperBook, explained. “We put up this week’s line while they had a large lead vs the Texans and instantly the public was hammering the +5.5.”

“We have a significant five-figure liability on the Colts plus the points,” the Westgate’s Derek Wilkinson noted. “It’s all public money so it hasn’t affected the line too much. The public loves the way the Colts have been playing.”

Tony Miller, the executive director of the Golden Nugget Sportsbook in Downtown Las Vegas, thinks this is a simple case of bandwagoning.

“People here are all over Luck. They can’t get enough of him,” Miller said. “I know Kansas City can put a lot of points on the board but, man, their defense is bad. I’ve been seeing Colts money downtown here for the last three or four weeks. With the way the underdogs have been hitting left and right, I think this is what’s driving the interest on the Colts here. While I think all four dogs are live this weekend, I give the Colts the best chance at an upset.”

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-7) | Over/Under: 50

Dallas looked good in a win over the Seahawks on Saturday night but its performance didn’t resonate with bettors the way that Indianapolis’ victory did.

Still, the Cowboys are getting some play here but it hasn’t been enough to move the line off of -7, which is, of course, a very key number in NFL betting.

This is another peculiar matchup in terms of betting support because the Cowboys are traditionally a public team while the Rams were one of the NFL’s best teams all season despite a mediocre 7-7-2 record against the spread.

One other thing to note for this one is that home-field advantage, which is usually worth roughly 3 points in the NFL, isn’t going to be a huge factor.

“I can see the crowd being maybe 60-40 for the Rams, that’s hardly much of a home-field advantage,” Simbal said. “You usually get an extra 3 points for home-field advantage, especially in the playoffs, but I don’t think that will be the case here.”

Sharp bettors don’t seem to be too worried about it and this game has a very Pros vs. Joe’s feel to it.