NFL Playoffs sportsbook report: How sharps are betting the Divisional Round

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Dec. 9, 2018 (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
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A Pros vs. Joes battle caps the NFL Divisional Round on Sunday, but sharp bettors and whale players have also made their mark in this weekend’s three other playoff games.

Two-way action is the story for Saturday’s Vikings-49ers game, with the point spread alternating between 6.5 and 7 during early wagering. Deep-pocketed bettors at William Hill and CG Technology are backing Minnesota, hoping the Norsemen can pull off a road upset for the second straight week. William Hill booked a $100,000 wager on the Vikings moneyline at +250 and another $56,000 bet at +270, the company said in an email, while CG Technology took a $40,000 point-spread play on the Vikings +7.

“We are actually a little bit heavy to the Vikings and need the Niners right now,” CG Technology risk analyst Dave Sharapan told BetIndiana on Friday. “But I don’t think that is going to be the case by kickoff.

“UNDER 45.5 was the sharp play, then the more public plays came in at (UNDER) 45 and drove us to 44.5. That’s actually our biggest decision as far as totals for the divisional weekend.”

Betting guides: Vikings-49ers | Titans-Ravens | Texans-Chiefs | Seahawks-Packers

Titans at Ravens

With a point spread hovering near 10, Saturday’s Titans-Ravens game isn’t shaping up to be a big decision for the books, thanks to solid two-way action and respected players taking the 10 with Tennessee early in the week.

“Right now, we actually have more on the Titans than the Ravens but expect that to switch as we get closer to kickoff,” Westgate vice president of risk management Ed Salmons told BetIndiana.

A similar situation is unfolding at CG Technology, as Sharapan also expects to need the Titans by game time. An influx of public bettors will arrive at Vegas books knowing Baltimore has covered in nine of its past 10 games.

CG, along with South Point, need the OVER in Saturday’s nightcap after being bet UNDER with conviction from 48.5 to 47 as of Friday’s reporting. Wind could play a role with gusts up to 25 mph forecast for Baltimore.

“We need the OVER in the Titans game, but that’s really the only one,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews told BetIndiana’s Mike Roselli.

“We’re up to 9.5 (for the spread), I don’t know if we’re going to get to 10, though.”

MORE: NFL Divisional Round player props to consider

Texans at Chiefs

The Chiefs lost outright as 3.5-point home favorites to the Texans in October, but books were prepared for the onslaught of Kansas City money for Sunday’s playoff game after Houston struggled at home against Buffalo in the wild-card round.

“We opened a little higher than most people,” Andrews said. “We were at 9 when there were some 8.5s around, so we’re not in bad shape on this game. We got some decent play plus the 9.”

On the total, Westgate took a $20,000 bet on OVER 51, a wager that goes against a profitable trend that has seen the UNDER cash in 20 of Andy Reid’s 26 games coming off a regular-season or playoff bye. Reid’s teams are also 22-4 SU and 17-9 ATS with extra rest.

Seahawks at Packers

Sunday’s nightcap in chilly Lambeau Field, is setting up as a Pros vs. Joes affair, with the wiseguys on the Packers and public backing the underdog Seahawks. The spread has alternated between 4 and 4.5, with sharps laying 4 with Green Bay.

“We had a bet from a respected player that moves the market, and he laid 4 with Green Bay,” Salmons said. “The public pretty much likes Seattle in this game. We expect we’ll need Green Bay come game time, which is odd; usually we need against Green Bay.”

CG Technology is also seeing sharp action on the Packers and has a 5:1 ticket count on the UNDER with freezing temperatures and wind expected in a matchup of run-oriented teams.

“We have more tickets on Seattle overall, but we took a limit play from a respected bettor on the Packers -4,” Sharapan said. “I don’t have to go to 5 to get Seattle money because it is coming in now at 4.5.”

Action flows into Monday night

The sportsbooks’ need for big favorites to lose outright is amplified this week, thanks to bettors tying parlays and teasers to LSU in Monday’s National Championship. The SEC champions are commanding a nearly 3:1 ticket count at -6 at CG Technology and the SuperBook, but the already-inflated spread could climb higher if the public has a successful NFL weekend.

“If the (big) favorites in the NFL were all to cover, it would force us to go to 6.5 just because we’d have so much liability spilling over into that game,” Salmons said. “If we win one or two NFL games then (the college title game) would be independent of the weekend games.”

Added Sharapan: “All the parlays and teasers will be tied to LSU. Baltimore, Kansas City, LSU; teasing of the favorites with LSU, etc. Ideally one of the NFL favorites doesn’t get there with a win or spread to mitigate some of that liability tied to LSU. If not, Monday is going to be really interesting.”

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