Quinn Harris, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Khalil Mack
LAS VEGAS — The sportsbooks in Vegas were up big in Week 13 thanks to strong performances by underdogs last Sunday.
Two of the biggest bets of the year in any sport here was made last Sunday as one bettor made a $330,000 bet at MGM on Atlanta at -2.5 over Baltimore. That obviously did not work out.
I did confirm that bet was not from Duffel Bag Boy, who was quiet last weekend.
The other bet was a $400,000 play on the Patriots -6 over Minnesota. That bet cashed with relative ease. MGM representatives said they didn’t get hurt too badly on that bet because they took some solid action on the Vikings leading up to that Sunday Night game.
As we look ahead to this Sunday, there are a handful of key games that will really help to sort out the playoff picture.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (-6) | Over/Under: 51
At first glance this game feels fairly lopsided but Baltimore, with Lamar Jackson at the helm, has shown a commitment to running and that’s something that Kansas City doesn’t handle well. Add in a sturdy Ravens’ defense and this game could be tighter than expected.
This game is attracting plenty of action at the Westgate SuperBook according to director John Murray.
“This game is probably the best of the early games and has seen the most money so far. We had a guy bet 20K on Chiefs -6.5,” Murray noted. “There has been support for the Ravens as well coming off that impressive performance last week at Atlanta.”
Murray’s colleague, Derek Wilkinson, a supervisor at the Westgate, says to watch out for Baltimore. “The public is going to be all over KC, but the Ravens have been playing really well and I’m thinking this will be a close game. If the line gets up to 7, I like the Ravens plus the points.”
Sunset Station Sportsbook manager Chuck Esposito thinks this isn’t a straightforward game to handicap:
“I think this is one of the tougher games to handicap this week. You have the prototypical best offense in the NFL up against the top defense, ” Esposito said. “My question is, if Kansas City’s high flying offense is able to score and get a bit of a lead, how does Baltimore play catch up with Lamar Jackson at QB? if the Chiefs are able to go up by 10 to 14 points, I see Baltimore having a lot of trouble getting back in the game. Therefore, the importance of the 6.5 or 7 at maximum will be key if you like the Chiefs.”
New Orleans (-10) at Tampa Bay | Over/Under: 54.5
While this line wasn’t as high as it could have been had New Orleans not stumbled against Dallas last Thursday, it did open at -10 and dropped to -8 before bouncing back up.
As you’d expect the public is backing the Saints in this one. William Hill reported 86% of the bets they’ve taken are on New Orleans but those bets only account for 63% of the money — suggesting that the sharps are backing Tampa Bay.
The Golden Nugget isn’t seeing much Buccaneers action yet, but they are writing tickets for the under, which is surprising.
“It’s been mostly Saints money so far here. And, believe it or not, a decent amount of under (54) money has come in,” Aaron Kessler, assistant manager at the Golden Nugget sportsbook said. “I think Tampa’s defense has been surprisingly good the last few weeks. They slowed down Carolina in their win last week and they completely shut down San Francisco which I know is not much of a feat but their defense has been improving. We’ve taken some decent sized sharp bets on Tampa so I’d pay attention here.”
Wilkinson said the Westgate has seen some big bets come in on the home underdogs.
“We’ve got a couple decent five-figure bets on the Bucs,” he said. “That line opened at New Orleans -9.5 here and went down to 8.5 but has since bounced back to -9.5 right now and I expect that to continue to go up.”
Philadelphia at Dallas (-3) | Over/Under: 44
There is two-way action on this game around town. For example, at William Hill, the Cowboys have 60% of the tickets written on them while the Eagles are taking 62% of the money wagered at the time of writing.
At the Westgate, Murray expects to see continued action on both sides and thinks this game will do massive numbers.
“This will be the second-most heavily bet game of the week in the NFL,” Murray said. “We’ve seen some sharp guys take Eagles at +3.5 and we moved the line to +3 EVEN. It makes sense. Philadelphia was a 6.5/7 point favorite at home when these two teams played on Sunday night football less than a month ago. To flip it to Dallas -3.5 just a few weeks later seems like a big overreaction to me. I like the Eagles.”
Both teams are getting plenty of support at the Golden Nugget, as well.
“We’ve taken a little more Philly money here so far. But action has been solid both ways,” Kessler explained. “Dallas definitely looks resurgent and Philadelphia still has that ‘Super Bowl effect’ over them so no matter how good or bad they’re playing, they seem to still take action every week. I think this game could be a toss up. Dallas certainly seems like the logical choice but when the public keeps things balanced I sometimes have my doubts that there’s an automatic in these kinds of games.”
LA Rams (-3)- Chicago | Over/Under: 51
As usual the Rams are getting support around town but it’s not as drastic as it usually is with Chicago getting Mitch Trubisky back under center.
This is a big game and was flexed to Sunday Night Football, so bookmakers are expecting huge numbers behind the counter.
“The game this Sunday night will be one of the most heavily-bet NFL games of the season,” Murray said. “It’s a tough spot for the Rams with the Bears getting Trubisky back and coming in off a loss. The forecast calls for very cold weather in Chicago Sunday night. I think this will be a spot in which the Rams really miss Cooper Kupp and they will need to be able to convert those 3rd and mediums and 3rd and longs against this Bears defense — which won’t be easy. I like the Bears here.”
“I’m looking forward to watching this one,” Wilkinson explained. “Most of our action is on the Bears right now, but not by too much. I don’t really know what to expect in this game and I’ve noticed that the wise guys haven’t touched it yet. If I was a betting man, I’d take the Bears to win outright, but +3 might be the safer play.”
Esposito, who hails from Chicago, says he expects the Rams support will show up as we get closer to game time.
“As we get closer to kickoff Sunday night I expect we’re going to see more Rams money come in here. I do expect the line to close above -3 but while I do think the Rams are a better team on a neutral field, the weather factor here could play in Chicago’s advantage,” Esposito said.