Favorite bettors find no relief on NFL wild-card weekend

Updated January 7, 2018 - 11:25 pm

During the Saints-Panthers game Sunday, it was reported that New Orleans defensive tackle Tony McDaniel had to decide between playing and being with his wife while she was in labor.

It was later announced that his wife wasn’t in labor but went to a hospital with a stomach bug. Either way, favorite bettors who had action on any of the NFL wild-card playoff games could relate.

A year after all four home favorites won their wild-card games by double-digits and covered the spread, the weekend went to the underdogs, who finished 4-0 ATS with two outright upsets.

Stomachs started churning in the second half of Saturday’s first game as the Chiefs started the postseason the same way the Falcons ended it last year — by blowing a 21-3 halftime lead.

When Alvin Kamara scored a touchdown Sunday to put the Saints up 31-19 over the Panthers with 5:08 left, New Orleans, a 6½-point favorite, appeared poised to become the only favorite to cover.

But that changed less than a minute later, when Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey scored on a 56-yard TD pass from Cam Newton, giving Panthers bettors a backdoor cover and Saints backers a case of heartburn.

Outright winners go 2-2 ATS

Wild-card winners entered the weekend on a 35-2-1 ATS run, but they went 0-2 Sunday. New Orleans won 31-26 but didn’t cover and Jacksonville, an 8½-point favorite, beat Buffalo 10-3 but didn’t cover.

The Titans, 8½-point underdogs, rallied for a 22-21 upset of Kansas City, which was outscored 19-0 in the second half.

“Andy Reid’s a really good coach, but he’s been known to blow some games,” South Point sports book director Chris Andrews said. “He blew this one.”

A Wynn Las Vegas sports book bettor lost a six-figure wager on the Chiefs and countless others also tore up their tickets.

“We had a wheelbarrow full of teasers on the Chiefs,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said.

MGM Resorts bettor wins big

Atlanta never trailed in a 26-13 upset of the Rams, much to the delight of an MGM Resorts sports book bettor who won a six-figure wager on the Falcons plus-6 and a six-figure wager on Atlanta on the money line (plus-220). The same bettor also won a six-figure wager on the Titans-Chiefs under (44).

“That one casino player spoiled the day for us a little bit,” The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback said.

Six-figure wager on Steelers

The same player lost a six-figure wager on the Jaguars, who opened as 7½-point underdogs in Sunday’s divisional playoff game at Pittsburgh. An MGM Resorts bettor placed a six-figure wager on the Steelers at minus-7½ (-105).

“I don’t think much of the Jaguars at all, to be honest with you,” Wynn Las Vegas sports book director Johnny Avello said. “They have a good defense but when the Steelers need to score, they’re going to score. It wouldn’t surprise me if this game closed at 8½ or 9.”

In the other AFC game, the Patriots are 13-point favorites over the Titans at South Point after the line opened at 14.

Eagles first No. 1 seed to open as underdog

In the NFC, the Vikings are 3½-point favorites over the Saints after the line opened at 4 and the Falcons are 2½-point road favorites over the Eagles after the line opened at 2.

Philadelphia, relying on backup quarterback Nick Foles after losing quarterback Carson Wentz to a knee injury, is believed to be the NFL’s first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in its playoff opener.

“It still looks like an overreaction to me,” Andrews said. “That’s why I purposely opened it a little bit low.”

Bogdanovich agrees.

“It’s starting to get a little crazy now. I’d lean to the ‘dog,” he said. “They’re more than just a quarterback. They’re a pretty damn good team. Now they’re getting 3 at home?”

An MGM Resorts bettor bought a half point and placed a six-figure wager on Atlanta at minus-2½ (minus-130).

Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons likes the Eagles.

“I really like their chances in this game,” he said. “They’ve had two weeks to get ready and their best scenario was to play Atlanta, which hasn’t played a cold-weather game in God knows how long.

“Atlanta’s big thing is kicking 55-yard field goals left and right. But I guarantee there will be no 55-yard field goals kicked in that stadium on Saturday.”

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

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