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UPDATED NEWS (AS OF SATURDAY AFTERNOON):
Sunday's conference championship opener will feature two of the greeatest quaterbacks of all time, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers facing off in the NFL playoffs for the first time ever. It’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Green Bay Packers.
“Sharps took Tampa Bay at +4.5, +4, and +3.5 and when we went to 3 we started seeing Packers money,” Jay Kornegay said from the Westgate Sportsbook in Las Vegas. “We’re up to Packers -3.5 now.”
The Westgate SuperBook dropped the Packers money-line down to -180/+160.
Jason Scott of BetMGM said they’ve taken a couple of six-figure bets on the Packers (-3) and they’re currently at -3.5 -120, the highest number out there.
“We took a couple of big bets on the Packers, so we’re pretty high on them right now,” said Nick Bogdanovich.
“But it’s still so early, you never know what’s going to happen in this game. Tampa’s drawn a lot of love all year long, and people will like taking 3.5 as opposed to 3. I still don’t think it’ll be a big decision one way or the other.”
Bogdanovich may be exaggerating a bit on the risk because they’re loaded with Packers risk with 78 percent of the tickets on the Packers and 83 percent of the cash. By the time this game kicks off, every book will be rooting for the Bucs.
There’s a possibility of snow with game time temperatures forecasted to be 25 degrees, but the SuperBook total has gone up from 51 to 51.5, which seems inexplicable.
The Bucs have won their last six games (4-2 ATS) and scored 30+ points in their last five games but the competition could be questioned with five games against losing teams and the other versus a beat-up Drew Brees-led New Orleans team.
Meanwhile, the Packers have won their last seven games (5-2 ATS), but the strength of their opponents was below average.
The two contenders met in Week 6 on Oct. 18 at Tampa Bay and the Bucs gave the Packers a 10-0 lead before reeling off 38 unanswered points. It ended up as a rout, and was Tampa's mmost impressive win of the season.
— Buccaneers are on road for 3rd week in row, 5th time in six weeks.
— Tom Brady has a 32-11 career record in playoff games.
— Buccaneers won last six games overall, scoring 34.8 ppg.
— Last six games, Bucs converted 53-1125 third down plays (47.3%).
— Tampa Bay is 13-0 when it scores 25+ points, 0-5 when it does not.
— Over is 5-2 in their last seven road games.
— Last seven years, #1 seeds are 10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS in this round.
— Green Bay won seven in row, nine of last ten games overall.
— Packers scored 33.1 ppg in their last eight games,
— Rodgers is 1-3 in NFC title games, but all those games were on road.
— Last three Green Bay games went over the total.
— In their three losses this year, Packers gave up 38-28-34 points.
— Packers lost 38-10 in Tampa in Week 6; GB averaged 2.7 yards/pass attempt.
— Green Bay won three of last four series games.
— Tampa Bay lost last two visits here, 35-26/26-20
— Brady split two visits here, winning 35-0 in ’06, losing 26-21 in ’14.
The early forecast for Sunday in Green Bay calls for temperatures in the mid-to-upper 20s, along with a 40 percent chance of snow and light winds of 5-10 mph. The SuperBook opened the total at 51 and nudged to 50.5 Monday morning.
Tampa Bay – Wideout Antonio Brown, injured during Sunday's victory at New Orleans, had an MRI on his knee Monday. His status is questionable for Sunday's NFC Championship Game against Green Bay. Oddsmakers and bettors weren't deterred by that info, with The SuperBook opening the Bucs +4.5 and quickly moving to +3.5 Sunday night.
Green Bay Packers – Rookie running back AJ Dillon (quad) is questionable for the NFC title game against Tampa Bay. But the Packers have plenty of firepower ahead of Dillon at running back, so his availability isn't impacting the spread. Green Bay opened -4.5 and dropped to -3.5 Sunday night at The SuperBook, due to early action on the Buccaneers.
UPDATED NEWS (AS OF SATURDAY AFTERNOON):
If anyone said back in September that the Chiefs would go 14-2 in the regular season, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was healthy, and they would be only -3 at home in the AFC Championship Game, most of us wouldn't hesitate to bet the defending Super Bowl champions. That line seems way too cheap.
But that’s the scenario we’re looking at this week even with news coming Friday that Mahomes had passed concussion protocol and will start on Sunday.
A couple of Nevada books are -3.5 but the majority are all still -3.
Mahomes was lost midway through the third quarter last week in the Chiefs' 22-17 home win over the Divisional Rond with a concussion and oddsmakers and bookmakers made his value to the number as low as 5 points and as high as -points, but started the game at -2.5 with the possibility he might not play.
But nobody believed he wouldn’t play and posted the number that way. And so far with a full week of action, the game is being bet very even everywhere.
“Right now, straight bets on the point-spread is pretty even,” said noted sports gambling authority Nick Bogdanovich.
“We’re a little high on Bills money-line (+155), but that’s to be expected. I think this one will be a two-way action game as well. I do think Mahomes will play and that this game will go back up when they announce it. It’ll get to 3.5, 4 tops. But I still think there will be Bills money because the Chiefs haven’t covered a game in so long.”
The Chiefs have won 24 of the last 25 starts Mahomes has made, but they’ve covered just once in their last nine games. Bettors want so badly to bet the Chiefs, but they’re tired of losing every week with them on the spread.
“We posted the Chiefs -4 before Mahomes got injured and then reposted -2.5 afterward and were bumped up to -3, but not really any sharp plays either way on the game,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook guru Jay Kornegay.
The Bills have won their last eight games and have gone 9-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 10. The public has noticed and has been happy taking the points this week.
The total has dropped from 54.5 down to 54, in part, due to some concern about cold rain at gametime.
The Bills average score this season was 31-23, or 54, and they’ve gone over in their last four games as the underdog. They also went over in 12 of their 18 games this season.
This late game will feature the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses in the NFL both looking for a trip to the Super Bowl.
— Bills won 10 of its last 11 games, covered nine of last ten.
— Buffalo outscored last eight opponents 169-80 in first half.
— Bills won last three road games, scored 37.5 ppg in last four.
— Buffalo is 4-1 ATS as an underdog this season.
— Over is 6-3-2 in their last 11 games.
— Buffalo is trying to go to Super Bowl for first time since 1993.
— Mahomes hasn’t officially been cleared, but is expected to play here.
— Chiefs won 11 of last 12 games, but are 0-8-1 ATS in last nine games.
— Chiefs are 9-8 ATS in last 17 games as a home favorite, 3-6 TY.
— Last nine games, Kansas City allowed 25.2 ppg
— Last time Chiefs covered was November 1st against the Jets.
— Before winning Super Bowl LY, Chiefs had lost 12 of previous 14 playoff games; now they’ve won four in a row.
— Chiefs won three of last four series games; last meeting was 2017.
— Bills won four of their last six visits to Arrowhead.
With an evening kickoff in Kansas City, the early forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 30s/lower 40s. There's a 50 percent chance of rain showers, along with light winds of 5-10 mph. The total on this clash has been all over the place, mostly due to the uncertain status of Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. The SuperBook initially opened at 56, then the game came off the board due to Mahomes' injury. The total reposted at 51 and quickly moved up to 55.5 Sunday evening, with bettors anticipating Mahomes will play this week. By Monday evening, the total ticked down to 53.5, perhaps in part a nod to possible rainy conditions.
Kansas City Chiefs – Quarterback Patrick Mahomes exited the divisional playoff game against Cleveland in the third quarter after suffering a concussion. Postgame comments implied that Mahomes was doing well, but again, he is in concussion protocal, so he isn't yet a lock to suit up in Sunday's AFC Championship Game against Buffalo.
The SuperBook at Westgate opened the Chiefs -4 against the Bills, posting that number at halftime of the Browns-Chiefs game, when Kansas City led 19-3. The line was taken off the board after Mahomes got hurt, then went back up postgame at Chiefs -2.5 and quickly moved to -3. The total initially opened at 56, reposted at 51 and shot to 55.5 Sunday evening. By Monday evening, it was down to 53.5.
"Mahomes is going to play, but if he had been knocked out completely, the Bills would be a decent favorite next week. More than a field goal," SuperBook executive director John Murray said. "Some of our guys in the room made it Bills -7. I think that’s a little extreme, but it gives you an idea of just how much of a drop-off there is from Mahomes to (Chad) Henne."
Buffalo Bills – As of Monday evening, there was no injury news to report from Bills camp.
Credits: Patrick Everson, Armadillo Write-Ups, Micah Roberts