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Pro bettors, public at odds over Bengals-Chiefs AFC title game

The Chiefs-Bengals AFC championship rematch is a matchup at sportsbooks between professional sports bettors and the betting public, aka “Pros vs. Joes.”

“It’s basically a game where all the sharp guys are on Kansas City and the public loves Cincinnati,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “It’s one of the biggest (Pros) vs. Joes games you’ll see.”

The Chiefs have settled in as 1½-point favorites in Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium following several line moves since Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered a high ankle sprain in a win over Jacksonville in the divisional round.

“We ended up seeing two-way sharp action on Bengals/Chiefs with skepticism followed by optimism regarding Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury,” Circa Sports director of risk Chris Bennett said. “We opened Chiefs -1½, got as high as Bengals -2½ -120, and now we are all the way back to Chiefs -1½.”

The Westgate opened Kansas City as a 3-point favorite Sunday night before dropping the line to pick’em less than an hour later after taking lopsided action on Cincinnati.

“Then Monday morning we took two big bets on the Bengals at pick and -1,” Salmons said. “We were at 1½ by Tuesday morning and got to 2½ when all of a sudden one of our smart guys bet the ‘dog.

“We went back to 2 and 1½ and got more smart money on the Chiefs at pick to 1. We’re heading back to where we started from basically.”

Mahomes, the front-runner to be named NFL MVP for the second time this season, has been a full participant in practices this week.

“He looks good. He’s moving around good,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said in a news conference Friday.

Salmons said the fact that Mahomes is starting was good enough for sharp bettors.

“After the line got overadjusted, the sharps came in because they have Kansas City favored,” he said. “A lot of times, their numbers don’t incorporate guys getting hurt. He’s either playing or he isn’t.”

The total is at 48 after opening at 49 and getting bet down to 46½.

“The push on Kansas City and the total is definitely a result of Mahomes practicing the last couple of days,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said.

More than 70 percent of the tickets at Station Casinos are on the Bengals.

“The public is clearly on Cincinnati right now,” Esposito said. “We would be Chiefs and under fans right now if the game kicked (Friday). But we’ll probably see 75 percent of the write come in the next 48 hours.”

The SuperBook also needs Kansas City to cover.

“I’m sure the majority of the money this weekend will be on the Bengals,” Salmons said. “The Bengals are kind of like the public’s darling team right now.”

A BetMGM bettor wagered $300,000 to win $250,000 on Cincinnati to score over 23½ points. A Caesars Sportsbook bettor wagered $220,000 to win $200,000 on the Bengals +1.

A Caesars bettor in Arizona has a total of $150,000 to win $310,000 on the Chiefs to win the AFC and $50,000 to win $275,000 on Kansas City to win the Super Bowl.

Caesars took a $15,000 bet on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl at 10-1 odds and a $7,000 wager placed on Cincinnati in August to win the Super Bowl at 20-1.

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

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