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Contest winners, $880K bet aligned on NFL playoff underdog

A Caesars Sportsbook bettor wagered $880,000 to win $800,000 on the Ravens +6½ over the Bengals in Sunday’s NFL wild-card playoff game.

The bet was placed early in the week, when books expected former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson to start for Baltimore.

When it became clear that the quarterback would miss the game in Cincinnati, the line shot through the key number of 7 before settling at 8½.

“We got as high as 10, then went back to 9½, and a sharp group took 9½, so we’re at 8½,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said.

Westgate SuperContest winner Ryan LeGates, who went 60-29-1 ATS (67.4 percent) this season, and RJ NFL Challenge champion Doug Fitz, who went 56-32-2 ATS (63.6 percent), also like Baltimore as their best bet of Super Wild Card Weekend.

Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley is expected to start for the Ravens, who are still +9 at the South Point.

“There is value catching (nine) points with two familiar teams from the same division matching up in the first round of the playoffs,” said LeGates (@SA247LLC). “Should be a low-scoring game with the total listed at 40½, which makes getting points even more valuable.

“The Ravens’ defense has been great to end the season as well.”

LeGates noted that while Baltimore allowed 27 points in last week’s 27-16 loss to Cincinnati, that was largely due to four turnovers.

“The Ravens’ defense held the Bengals to 257 total yards on only 4 yards per play,” he said. “In the five games previous to the Bengals, the Ravens allowed an average of 12.2 points per game.”

Fitz (@fitz_doug) rode underdogs all season en route to his third RJ NFL title.

“I live and die with the dogs,” he said. “The number is too high. The Ravens are 6-3 ATS as road ’dogs and covered the same matchup at Cincinnati last week with third-string QB Anthony Brown.”

Cincinnati is the third-largest favorite of the weekend behind Buffalo (-14 over Miami) and San Francisco (-9½ over Seattle).

“The one combination every book in the city will be rooting against is San Francisco winning, Buffalo winning and Cincinnati winning,” Salmons said. “We’re going to need one of those dogs to win outright to knock down money-line parlays, because there’s a ton of them.”

Salmons bet on the Ravens +10 and gives them the best shot of the three big underdogs to pull off an upset.

“Baltimore rested everybody last week, and they know their opponent well,” he said. “Baltimore’s style of play is slow. They run the ball and use a lot of the clock. I think it’s a game Baltimore can compete.”

Fitz and Salmons also singled out the Giants as one of their best bets to cover as 3-point underdogs at Minnesota.

“The Giants have been undervalued all year,” Fitz said. “They went 13-4 ATS overall, 10-2 ATS as a ’dog and 6-1 ATS on the road. I would not be surprised if they won outright.”

Salmons said the Westgate also took sharp action on both sides of Saturday’s Seahawks-49ers game.

“We opened the Niners -10½ and immediately took wiseguy action +10½. We went to 10 and eventually settled at 9½,” he said. “But we actually had one of our sharper guys lay 9½ early in the week.”

The SuperBook also took sharp money on the Chargers -1, -1½ and -2 over the Jaguars in Saturday’s game before getting some sharp buyback on Jacksonville at the current line of +2½.

Salmons also reported sharp bets on the Buccaneers +3½ and +3 over the Cowboys on Monday night before the line dipped to 2½.

“This has been a constant theme all year. We don’t think much of Tampa in this book,” he said. “But almost every game, they bet Tampa.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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