Even though ultimately favorites went a perfectly average, in-line-with-expectation 2-2 against the spread in the wild-card round NFL playoff games, the weekend belonged to the underdogs.
The Titans came into New England as nearly a 2/1 moneyline ’dog and started Boston sports radio’s offseason “What becomes of Tom Brady?” frenzy early. The Vikings arrived in New Orleans as more-than-a-touchdown underdogs and shocked the Saints in overtime.
Even the favorites that prevailed and covered did so with difficulty. The Texans had to climb out of a 16-0 hole against Buffalo to cover by a half-point in overtime. And the Seahawks won by a single score against an injury-riddled Eagles team that played almost the whole game behind a semi-retired 40-year-old quarterback taking the first postseason snaps of his career.
As we enter the divisional round, the gap between the favorites and the underdogs is even wider, with three spreads out of four set at a touchdown or more. Can one or two (or three or four) ‘dogs do it again? Looking at the sports betting odds at the various mobile books, and seeing numbers like “+260” and “+340,” it’s tempting to risk a few dollars on that possibility.
Parlay fever sweeping NJ books
The online sports wagering era has been marked by a preponderance of “odds boosts,” as sportsbooks remove some or all of the baked-in house edge from certain bets in order to make them more attractive to customers.
This weekend, the books all seem to be of the same mind about what to boost: moneyline parlays.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the promotions team is daring bettors to doubt all the ‘dogs. The site has a boost on a 49ers-Chiefs-Ravens-Packers parlay — all four favorites, off a bye, defending their home turf and winning — from +206 odds to +250.
At BetMGM, they’re offering increased odds on underdog combos. A parlay of the Vikings upsetting the Niners and the Titans bumping off the Ravens, normally a +1500 payout, has been jacked up to +1800. Or you can take the other two underdogs — Texans over Chiefs and Seahawks over Packers — at a slight odds boost from +1100 to +1200.
PointsBet, meanwhile, has an assortment of boosts on moneyline combinations:
- All four home favorites, San Francisco, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Green Bay, priced at +225 (buyer beware: the same bet pays more at FanDuel)
- An NFC single-upset combo of the 49ers and the Seahawks is bumped from +250 to +275
- An AFC single-upset pairing of the Ravens and Texans has been boosted from +440 to +475
- If you like the favorites in the AFC and the underdogs in the NFC, you can get a Minnesota-Seattle-Baltimore-KC parlay for +1400 instead of the standard +1275
- A parlay of the 49ers with the road underdogs in all three other games is boosted from +6300 to +7000
Vikings at 49ers, Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
Using odds from the three NJ sportsbooks cited above — FanDuel, BetMGM, and PointsBet — we see consistency in the spread, all of them favoring San Francisco by 7 points as of Friday morning. (The vig varies, though, with PointsBet offering -108 on both sides and FanDuel down to -105 on Minnesota.)
There is variation on the points total, so you’ll definitely want to shop around before wagering on it. PointsBet has it at 44, FanDuel is at 44.5, and BetMGM is way up at 45.5.
In terms of the moneyline, the best payout on the Vikes is +260 at both FD and MGM, while FanDuel offers the best odds on San Francisco at -310.
Looking for a fun longshot? If you think Jimmy Garoppolo might stumble under the playoff pressure and the Vikings defense can come up big, FanDuel has the 49ers at +1200 to be the lowest scoring team of the weekend. (Minnesota is tied with Tennessee for the shortest odds in that category, at +320.)
Titans at Ravens, Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
You’ll definitely want to shop around before betting this line, as it varies from Ravens by 8.5 (BetMGM) to 9.5 (FanDuel) to 10 (PointsBet). And the total is slightly inconsistent, from 47 at both FD and PB to 47.5 at MGM.
Industry leader FanDuel delivers the best price on both sides of the moneyline, with Tennessee at +340 and Baltimore at -420. They also have “Blown Lead Insurance” on any moneyline bet, enabling bettors to get up to $50 back in site credit if their team is leading at the end of any quarter but doesn’t win the game.
If you’re looking for props on presumed league MVP Lamar Jackson, PointsBet has a few fun ones, including a boost to +500 on the Ravens QB to score two or more rushing touchdowns — something he did once this season.
Texans at Chiefs, Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET
Rested, rolling, and with a healthy Patrick Mahomes under center, Kansas City is a 9.5-point favorite at home at all three books.
The point total is the weekend’s highest, set at 50.5 at BetMGM and a tick higher at 51 at the other books.
The moneyline, meanwhile, is almost identical to that of the Baltimore-Tennessee game. The Texans can be found at +340 at MGM, while the best price on the Chiefs is -400 at FanDuel.
If you’re a Mahomes believer — especially against a mediocre Houston pass defense — PointsBet has a couple of minor boosts on his production. Instead of -115, you can get even money for Mahomes to throw for 300 yards, and instead of even money, Mahomes passing or running for a total of three or more touchdowns pays +115.
Seahawks at Packers, Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET
This is the only spread of the weekend that the bookmakers have set at under a touchdown, with all three NJ books agreeing on Green Bay as a 4.5-point fave. They also agree on the point total: 46.5.
On the moneyline, you can get Seattle at +184 at FanDuel and the Packers at -200 at BetMGM.
Meanwhile, DraftKings Sportsbook has a fun promo boosting the odds on any player to score the first touchdown in his respective game to a minimum of +1000. That means Packers running back Aaron Jones, who has the lowest un-boosted odds of anyone on the weekend slate at +475, is the best deal on the board.
Photo by Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports
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