The NFL hasn’t been kind to the Las Vegas sports books this year and the wildcard of the playoffs were no different. In a season that has seen the books lose out in a myriad of ways, the 4-0 record against the spread the favorites had in the wildcard round continued that unsettling trend. Fortunately, the books were somewhat saved when all four games went under the totals, a reprieve that spelled the difference between a palatable loss from another debilitating week.
It’s a trend that has happened numerous times throughout the NFL season with the bane of the sportsbook’s existence having been parlays that kept on cashing in. According to Sporting News’ Micah Roberts, the NFL’s wildcard weekend saw a multitude of parlays costing the books, some to the tune of doubles that paid out 13/5 odds all the way to four-teamers that cashed in at 11/1 odds.
The two Sunday games, in particular, reflected the kind of ominous season the books have had this year. The Baltimore Ravens, despite having sputtered their way to the post season, became such a public bet that the opening line of -6 ended up moving all the way to -8, a clear indication that significant action was being laid on the Ravens covering the spread. And they did, beating the Indianapolis Colts handily, 24-9.
The late afternoon game between the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks only exacerbated the situation for the books. Needing the Redskins, who were 3-point underdogs at home against the Seahawks, to cover, the books found themselves on the wrong side of the ledger again after Seattle rallied from a 14-0 deficit to score 24 unanswered points, taking the game, covering the spread, and sending the books scrambling yet again.
If there was one silver lining (playbook) to the weekend’s wildcard round, it’s that it could have been much worse for Vegas had any of the games gone over the totals. Fortunately, all four games were under their respective totals, sparing the books from what could’ve been another catastrophic NFL weekend.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation takes odd approach in curtailing combination bets
With the way the season has gone for Vegas, maybe they should take a page out of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which, unlike other sports books, doesn’t adjust the odds once they’re set. Instead, when a certain game or a particular combination of games have been bet on and has exceeded the maximum point of payout the OLG is willing to take on, the company takes the unconventional route of shutting down bets. Speaking to TheStar.com, OLG spokesperson Don Pister explained that the decision to shut down bets are being done because the OLG has a “potential maximum liability”, before adding that “the ultimate goal is maintaining a reasonable level of financial risk.”
That’s what happened during the wild-card weekend when a particular combination reached the aforementioned maximum point of payout the company was willing to occur, leaving the OLG to close the combination because the potential payouts have already exceeded the amounts being wagered on.
It’s something that, realistically, wouldn’t fly in a place like Las Vegas. But Pister defended the OLG’s stance on the issue, saying that despite the frustration being voiced by bettors, shutting down games is necessary if it means threatening the existence of their business.
Broncos, Patriots favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII
Going back to the NFL, with the wildcard round now over, only eight teams are left with a shot at lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy in New Orleans next month. As it stands after the wildcard round, the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos are still the odds-on favorite to win Super Bowl XLVII at 5/2 odds, followed closely by the New England Patriots at 11/4. Meanwhile, the two wildcard-winning AFC teams, the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens, find themselves as the two longshots to win it all, having been priced at 20/1 and 25/1, respectively. The enormous disparity between the two top seeds and the wild card winners in the AFC is nowhere near the case in the NFC as all four teams, the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Seattle Seahawks, are all bunched up together at 5/1, 6/1, 7/1, and 8/1, respectively.
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