The Green Bay Packers opened as 4.5-point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers at Caesars Sportsbook for their NFC divisional-round matchup next Saturday night at Lambeau Field. The line had ticked up to Packers -5.5 Sunday night at some books.
The Packers beat the 49ers 30-28 in Week 3 in San Francisco, with Aaron Rodgers leading a game-winning drive in the final 37 seconds.
"Green Bay looks like the best team and a clear favorite right now," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said. "I still expect them to win the Super Bowl."
NFL Notables: 'Betting public truly divided' on wild-card games
• Typically, the betting public will gang up on a team, creating lopsided action at sportsbooks, including in the playoffs. You'll often find at least one big favorite having attracted 80% or more of the money wagered. But that wasn't the case on wild-card weekend. The betting pubic was truly divided.
No team attracted more than 65% of the money wagered on the point spread at most sportsbooks.
"We haven't had any real large decisions, which is unusual," Jeff Stoneback, director of MGM sportsbooks in Nevada, said. "I don't know why it's so balanced."
The number of bets on Monday's game between the Cardinals and Rams was split 50/50 at DraftKings, and Stoneback said Sunday night that the total money wagered on the final wild-card game was separated by only a few thousand dollars.
• The line on the Eagles-Buccaneers climbed as high as Tampa Bay -9.5 but dropped late in the week and closed at -7 at some books. Caesars Sportsbook reported taking a $110,000 bet on Philadelphia +8 and $100,000 on the Eagles money line at +330. Tampa Bay won 31-15.
• The Buccaneers' blowout of the Eagles produced the biggest win of the weekend for The Borgata sportsbook in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Thomas Gable, Borgata sportsbook director, called it a "very big win," which included a $72,000 bet on the Eagles on the alternate line of +14.5 (-230). Tampa Bay won by 16.
• Big bets on the Bengals showed up at one Las Vegas sportsbook, as local bettors faded the hometown Raiders in the playoff opener.
"We were overloaded on the Bengals," Murray of the SuperBook said. "We took multiple six-figure wagers on that game and they were all on the Cincinnati side, including one for $195,000 on Bengals -5.5. Not exactly what we expected for the first ever Las Vegas Raiders playoff game."
• There were some big bets on the night game between the Steelers and Chiefs: $275,000 on Steelers +13 (Caesars Sportsbook) and $220,000 on Steelers +13 (DraftKings).
"We need the Chiefs tonight big-time," Craig Mucklow, director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN.
The Chiefs knocked off the Steelers 42-21.
• On Wednesday, a bettor with FanDuel in New York placed a $250,000 bet on the Bills to win the Super Bowl at +750. The bet would pay a net $1,875,000 if Buffalo wins the franchise's first Super Bowl.
• Odds on who will be the Chicago Bears' next coach hit the board last week at sportsbooks in Colorado and Illinois, after Matt Nagy was officially fired. Brian Flores is the favorite at +130, but Leslie Frazier (10-1) has been the most popular bet in Illinois and sportsbook PointsBet. Frazier has attracted more than twice as many bets as Flores at PointsBet.
What were the odds?
• -650: The closing money-line price on the Colorado Avalanche for Friday's game against the Arizona Coyotes. It's the highest price on an NHL favorite in any game in the past five seasons. Colorado won 5-0.
• +175: Kevin Durant's odds to win the regular-season MVP, prior to Sunday's announcement that he'll miss four to six weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Durant was the betting favorite for MVP.
• +150: Novak Djokovic's odds to win the Australian Open, prior to losing his appeal to play despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19. Djokovic, who was the betting favorite, left the country Sunday.
Q&A with three bettors
Three of the five winners of Circa Survivor, the most lucrative public NFL survivor contest, hosted by Las Vegas casino Circa, told ESPN this week about their biggest sweat of the season and revealed their Super Bowl picks.
Biggest sweat: Vikings over Lions in Week 5. Detroit rallied from down 10 in the final five minutes and took the lead on a 2-point conversion with 37 seconds to play. But Minnesota's Greg Joseph made a 54-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to keep Sax's entry alive.
"I had six games this season decided by a field goal with no time remaining," Sax said. "Fortunately I won all six."
Prize money: $1.53 million
Super Bowl winner: Packers
Biggest sweat: Falcons over Lions in Week 16. Perlman's strategy was to fade Lions backup quarterback Tim Boyle. Ultimately, it was a winning decision, but it wasn't stress-free. Boyle threw an interception on first-and-goal from the Atlanta 1-yard line with 33 seconds to play, sealing the Falcons' 20-16 win.
"After that last interception, I screamed 'yes' and started running with excitement," said Perlman, who sweated the games at Caesars Palace. "The entire sportsbook started cheering for that crazy guy that was me. It's funny because we all see someone cheering loudly in these situations and often wonder, 'how much did that guy just win?' Whether $10 or $10,000, it's all relative, but for me, at that moment it was possibly for millions."
Prize money: $1.2 million
Super Bowl winner: Rams
Biggest sweat: Browns at Packers in Week 16. Green Bay intercepted Baker Mayfield with 50 seconds to play to secure a 24-22 win.
Prize money: $1.2 million
Super Bowl winner: Titans