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‘Don’t bet against Mahomes’: Bettors lose as Ravens, 49ers don’t cover

Sharp bettors, aka wiseguys, backed the Ravens over the Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC championship game.

But the so-called sharps and recreational bettors who had money on Baltimore received a rude reminder that it’s never wise to bet against Patrick Mahomes.

The reigning NFL MVP quarterback led Kansas City to a 17-10 win over the Ravens as a 4½-point underdog to send the Chiefs to their second straight playoff victory as underdogs and to their fourth AFC title in five years.

“It’s just awfully tough to give Mahomes points,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said.

Sophisticated money on the 49ers, who closed as 7½-point favorites over the Lions in Sunday’s NFC championship game, also turned out to be as sharp as a marble, as San Francisco won 34-31 but didn’t cover.

The Niners stormed back from a 24-7 halftime deficit and were in position to pull out an improbable cover after taking a 34-24 lead with 3:02 left. But Detroit drove down for the backdoor cover on Jared Goff’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Jameson Williams on fourth-and-goal with 56 seconds left.

San Francisco opened as high as a 2½-point favorite over Kansas City in the first Super Bowl in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium. But the consensus line quickly dropped to 1.

“It was more because San Francisco’s defense seems to be struggling a little bit. If it wasn’t for a couple dropped passes, we might be talking about a different team right now,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “The way the Chiefs played (Sunday), their defense was amazing and Mahomes continues to make plays. You’ve got to think that’s going to be a challenge for the 49ers to stop.”

Bad day for bettors

Sportsbooks had a big winning day on Championship Sunday, as both underdogs covered and the Chiefs-Ravens game stayed under the total of 44½ after Kansas City led 17-7 at halftime.

“The Chiefs and under was the perfect case scenario for us,” Esposito said. “What we didn’t need was the Chiefs to Detroit (money-line parlay). Then we would’ve had two money lines coming in paying roughly 10-1. We probably would’ve given back everything we were up.”

Bettors at Caesars Sportsbook lost wagers of $440,000 on the Ravens on the money line (-220) and $100,000 on Baltimore to win the Super Bowl (+195).

BetMGM bettors lost wagers of $250,000 on the Ravens on the money line (-225) and a $150,000 same-game parlay including Baltimore (-2½) and over 40½.

“Form is temporary. Class is permanent,” Caesars vice president of trading Craig Mucklow said. “Don’t bet against Mahomes under any circumstances.”

But that’s exactly what bettors did, despite the fact that Mahomes is 10-3 straight-up as an underdog and 11-1-1 against the spread.

“They bet against him in the Bills game. They bet against him in this game and they bet against him in last year’s Super Bowl against the Eagles,” Esposito said. “It’s not the same Chiefs offense, but the defense has been phenomenal. This guy is just good in money games.”

In a huge momentum swing, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson completed a 54-yard pass to Zay Flowers in the final minute of the third quarter to the Chiefs’ 10. Flowers was then penalized for taunting, and the ball was moved back to the 25. Four plays later, Flowers lost a fumble at the 1 as he lunged for the goal line, and the score stayed 17-7.

“There were a couple of huge mistakes by the Ravens,” Kornegay said. “I thought Jackson had an opportunity to take it over with his legs. But he was somewhat reluctant to run.”

Bettors won on the Lions-Niners over 53½. But Detroit bettors and long-suffering fans were dealt another blow when they squandered a 17-point halftime lead. The Niners were +320 at halftime at Station Casinos to win the game and as high as +420 at Caesars on the in-play money line.

The Lions twice turned it over on downs in the second half after failing to convert on fourth-and-short. They were in field goal range both times, including at the San Francisco 30 with 7:32 left when they trailed 27-24.

“Detroit was a big loser on the money line. We had to sweat that out,” Pullen said. “Having the Niners win but not cover was good, but the game going over was not good.

“Overall, it was a good day. Two ’dog covers and one outright ’dog win is usually a recipe for success.”

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

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