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Sportsbooks take hit on Raiders, see Rams as live playoff underdog

A year after the Rams finished with the worst record ever for a defending Super Bowl champion (5-12), they’ve regained their form and are back in the playoffs in arguably the most intriguing matchup of Super Wild Card Weekend.

The Rams, the No. 6 seed in the NFC, opened as 3½-point road underdogs to the No. 3 Lions before the line quickly dropped to 3 in a game that sends Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford back to Detroit to face his former team and Jared Goff, the quarterback the Rams traded to get him.

“I really think the Rams are a threat. They have a good coach, a very good quarterback, and they’re very healthy right now,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “They’re a very dangerous team. But they would probably have to win three games on the road to get to the Super Bowl. Remember, they gave the Ravens everything they could handle in Baltimore (in a 37-31 overtime loss Dec. 10).”

Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow also said the Rams, 50-1 at his book to win it all, are capable of making a run.

“The Rams would be the one that scares me,” he said. “They’re in form, and they’ve been there and done it before. The Lions haven’t been there for a long, long time. I had hair the last time the Lions were in the playoffs.”

Detroit has lost eight straight playoff games and hasn’t won in the postseason since the 1991 season. The total is the highest on the board at 51½.

In other NFC wild-card matchups, the Cowboys are 7½-point home favorites over the Packers on Sunday afternoon, and the Eagles are 2½-point road favorites over the Buccaneers on Monday.

Defending NFC champion Philadelphia started the season 10-1 before a 1-5 collapse, punctuated by Sunday’s 27-10 defeat at the Giants in which quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver A.J. Brown joined a list of other injured Eagles.

“The Eagles are not in a good place right now,” said Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen, an Eagles fan. “It’s a wounded team and a team that’s not playing well in general.”

The Cowboys are 8-0 at home this season and 6-2 against the spread.

“The Cowboys have just had a huge home-field advantage this year,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “They’ve been dominant.”

In an AFC wild-card doubleheader Saturday, the Browns are 1½-point road favorites over the Texans, and the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are 3½-point home favorites over the Dolphins in a matchup that sends star wide receiver Tyreek Hill back to Kansas City to face his former team.

The Bills are 10-point home favorites over the Steelers in the opener of Sunday’s tripleheader.

Raiders ‘worst result’

Bettors won big on the Raiders in their 27-14 season-ending win and cover over the Broncos as 3-point favorites at Allegiant Stadium.

The Raiders went 5-4 straight-up and 7-1-1 ATS under interim coach Antonio Pierce.

“The Raiders was our worst result,” Kornegay said. “It just really snowballed over the last couple of days. There was a lot of support for the Raiders, and it all made sense. The Raiders were really trying to win for Pierce, and there wasn’t much on the other side.”

The Silver and Black were the biggest decision of the day at Station Casinos.

“The team really seems to enjoy playing for Pierce, and we know he’s interested in the job,” Esposito said. “Having a chance to finish with another win for him, it was kind of the perfect storm. We saw a lot of Raiders money come in, and the line crept up to 3½.”

Favorites went 10-6 ATS in Week 18, including the Bills (-2½, beat Dolphins 21-14), Saints (-3, beat Falcons 48-17), Buccaneers (-4½, beat Panthers 9-0), Lions (-3½, beat Vikings 30-20), Packers (-2½, beat Bears 17-9) and Cowboys (-13, beat Commanders 38-10).

“It was a pretty good day for the guests,” Esposito said. “We were a very small winner or break-even day.”

The best results for the books were outright upsets by the Jets (+2½, beat Patriots 17-3) and Rams (+5½, beat 49ers 21-20).

Four Survivors

Four entries from a field of 9,267 finished 20-0 to win the Circa Survivor contest and split the $9.2 million prize.

The entries with the aliases IndianaJet and Jax Jags won Sunday with the Bengals, who cruised to a 31-14 win over the Browns. The entries Circus Master and Lajoneser won with the Raiders.

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

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