Just win 10 games and the Super Bowl, baby!
That’s what bettors at Las Vegas sports books are banking on this season from the Oakland Raiders. There are more tickets on Oakland to win Super Bowl LII than on any other team and more than twice as many tickets on Las Vegas’ future NFL franchise to go over their win total of 9.5 than under.
“The Raiders are the new favorite in Las Vegas, basically, because of them coming here,” Golden Nugget sports book director Tony Miller said. “My ticket count on the Raiders far outweighs every other team to win the Super Bowl and the AFC and our liability.”
Heavy action at William Hill sports books on Oakland to win the Super Bowl has driven its odds down from 22-1 to 7-1, which is the second choice behind the New England Patriots (11-4).
“They’re betting the Raiders across the board — to win their division (minus-110), the AFC (3-1) and the Super Bowl,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “If (quarterback Derek) Carr stays healthy, they should be fine. They were playing at an all-time level before he got hurt. If he’s back to 100 percent, I think they’ll do super.”
The favored Patriots are the only team to have more money wagered on them to win the Super Bowl than the Raiders. The top five Super Bowl ticket count at the Westgate as of Tuesday was 626 on Oakland, 598 on the Packers, 510 on the Cowboys, 492 on the Steelers and 470 on the Giants.
William Hill, which gets a lot of action on Bay Area teams at its books in Northern Nevada, has the highest win total on Oakland at 10 (under -155). But most books in Las Vegas have the Raiders’ total at 9.5.
While the betting public is backing the over, Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said sharp bettors are on the under.
“There’s a lot of professional money on the under,” he said. “If you made me bet, I would bet under. Just because usually when teams go from six or seven wins and bounce up to 12 or 13, the rule is they’ll usually bounce back in the other direction.”
Oakland improved from 7-9 in 2015 to 12-4 last season, when it won five games by three points or fewer.
Matthew Holt, vice-president of CG Technology sports books, also has taken a lot of sharp action on under Oakland’s 2017 win total.
“They think the Raiders may regress a little bit playing in a tough division,” Holt said. “You can make a strong case that the AFC West has the smallest gap of any division in football between the top team and the bottom team.
“They’re all really close, but they’re treating Oakland like the overwhelming favorite to win it.”
The Raiders are the minus-110 favorites at William Hill to win the AFC West. The Chiefs are plus-260, and the Broncos and Chargers are each 5-1.
The sharp money also is against Oakland in Sunday’s season opener at Tennessee. The Raiders are 1½-point underdogs after opening as 1½-point favorites.
“We’ve taken almost twice as many bets on the Raiders, but all the big bets are on the Titans,” Holt said.
Miller said winning the opener is crucial to Oakland’s title hopes.
“If they can win that game, it sets them up on the path to play the Patriots in the AFC championship game,” he said.
Oakland finished 10-7 against the spread last season and went over in 12 of 17 games.
Miller likes the Carolina Panthers to bounce back from last season’s 6-10 finish and top their win total of 9 behind a healthy Cam Newton, rookie running back Christian McCaffrey and a rugged defense.
“The Panthers can come back and vie for the NFC championship,” he said.
Salmons likes the Cleveland Browns to top their win total of 4.5. The over has soared to a minus-180 favorite.
“It’s funny to hear this, but their defensive line is one of the better lines in the NFL,” Salmons said. “This team’s going to play some solid defense. Over 4.5 wins seems like one of the better bets to me.
“They play the Jets at home. That’s one. Getting to five wins is not a lot in this league.”
On the subject of the Jets — whose starting quarterback is 38-year-old journeyman Josh McCown — they suffered a historic fall in win total, dropping from 5 to 3.5 (under -140). New York is a 1,000-1 shot to win the Super Bowl.
“It’s not a surprise,” Salmons said. “It looks like the first NFL team to say, ‘We’re going to lose and lose a lot this year and guarantee ourselves one of those (college) quarterbacks.’”
Holt and Bogdanovich each like the Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as long shots that could surprise this season. Holt also listed the Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles as sleeper picks to win it all.
“Everybody wants to give the Patriots the crown, but anything can happen in this wild season,” Bogdanovich said. “Look at the Raiders last year. They were poised to do good, and then Carr broke his leg.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.