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NFL divisional round betting recap: Chiefs fail to cover spread for 9th consecutive game

Sam Cooper
·6 min read
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The Kansas City Chiefs keep winning close games, and that hasn’t been a good thing for most bettors.

The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions and were a sterling 13-5-1 against the spread in 2019. This year, the Chiefs have been continually backed by the public despite an extremely poor run against the spread.

That continued on Sunday, when the Chiefs bested the feisty Cleveland Browns 22-17 to advance to the AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs were favored by as many as 10 points throughout the week, but the line dipped in the lead-up to Sunday’s game. It eventually closed at 8.5, and the Browns rallied in the second half after Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes exited with an injury.

The game marked the ninth consecutive time that the Chiefs have failed to cover the spread at BetMGM. The Chiefs opened the year 6-2 against the spread, but have not covered since Nov. 1 when they beat the New York Jets 35-9 as 20-point favorites.

Since then, it has been a stretch of 0-8-1 against the spread despite an 8-1 record straight-up in that span. The Chiefs were favorites in all but one of those games, with the lone exception coming when they rested their starters against the Chargers in Week 17. In six of those games, the Chiefs were favored by at least a touchdown.

There was a lot of action on the Browns late in the week, including a $220,000 bet on the Browns at +10. According to BetMGM, the betting splits ended up being pretty even with 55% of the bets and 54% of the money landing on the Browns.

Nonetheless, the Chiefs will move on to face the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game. And despite the uncertain status of Mahomes, the Chiefs opened up as 3-point favorites over the Bills at BetMGM.

Brady, Bucs bust big Saints bets

A strong day for the sportsbook on Sunday was capped off when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upset the New Orleans Saints to advance to the NFC Championship Game.

The Bucs lost to the Saints twice during the regular season and were 2.5-point underdogs in the Superdome on Sunday night. But the Bucs defense forced three Saints turnovers and ended up winning the game 30-20.

The matchup between Brady and Drew Brees was the most-bet game of the weekend at BetMGM. Overall, 53% of the bets and 59% of the money came in on the Saints to cover the spread, which opened at -3.5 and dropped to -2.5.

There were multiple six-figure wagers on the Saints that ended up as losers, including one for $250,000 and another for $100,000. There was also a $250,000 parlay on the Saints -3 and the Bills -2 that would have paid out $630,000.

One bettor was on the other side and won a $200,000 wager on the Bucs +3. The payout was $166,667.

Moving forward, BetMGM will be rooting heavily against the Bucs because of the volume of Super Bowl futures bets it received on Tampa Bay after the signing of Brady. Last week, MGM reported that 7.93% of the Super Bowl bets and 11.48% of the money was on the Bucs at +1100.

“We definitely don’t want the Buccaneers to win,” Jeff Stoneback, the Director of Trading for MGM, told Yahoo Sports. “They signed Tom Brady in the summer and everybody piled on. We wrote the most tickets on the Buccaneers, so there’s a big liability. We’re rooting for the Packers next week.”

The Chiefs winning the Super Bowl would also be a loser for the sportsbook.

“Both teams [Bucs and Chiefs] we have a large liability on the Super Bowl,” Stoneback said.

Public all over Packers, Bills

While Sunday was a winning day for BetMGM, Saturday was the total opposite.

Both favorites covered the spread fairly comfortably. The Green Bay Packers closed as seven-point favorites at home against the Los Angeles Rams and won 32-18. In the night game, the Buffalo Bills were favored by 2.5 against the Baltimore Ravens and won 17-3.

Both the Packers and Bills received significant backing from the betting public. That was especially the case with the Packers, who received 78% of the bets and 76% of the money. Stoneback said that BetMGM received very large bet on the Rams, but there was so much action on the Packers that it didn’t affect the outcome for the sportsbook.

“Both favorites covered and the house lost both games. The Packers was a tremendous loss even though we had taken a $300,000 bet on the Rams. That didn’t put a dent in the loss at all. Everybody was on the Packers,” Stoneback said.

One bettor put down $120,000 on the Packers -6.5 and won $100,000.

Another big winner bet $110,000 on the Bills -2.5 and won $100,000. In that game, 61% of the bets and 53% of the money was on Buffalo. It was a close game for a while, but things flipped when a third-and-goal interception from Lamar Jackson was returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Buffalo’s Taron Johnson.

A touchdown there could have tied the game. Instead, Johnson’s incredible return extended Buffalo’s lead from 10-3 to 17-3.

Under goes 3-1 in divisional round

If you had money on the under this past weekend, you probably won some money.

Three of the four divisional round games ended up going under the total. The early game on Saturday — the Rams vs. Packers — was the only game that went well for over bettors. The total opened up at 46.5 but dropped to 44.5 by kickoff.

The Packers won 32-18 and the game was put out of reach when Aaron Rodgers hit Allen Lazard behind the defense for a 58-yard score with 6:58 to go. That was also the play that hit the over.

The other three games, however, all landed under the total.

The Bills vs. Ravens total was 49.5 and the 80% of the money at BetMGM was bet on the over. It never came close as the Bills won 17-3.

On Sunday, 73% of the money was on the over in the Chiefs vs. Browns. The total opened at 56.5 but closed at 54.5. The game ended up being fairly low-scoring in a 22-17 Chiefs win.

In the nightcap, a whopping 75% of the bets and 83% of the money on the Saints vs. Bucs game came on the over. The total opened at 50.5 and closed at 52.5. This one came down to the end, but a late Drew Brees interception allowed the Bucs to kneel out the clock and seal a 30-20 victory.

The wild-card round was split evenly with three overs and three unders. So far in the 10 playoff games, six have gone under the total and four have gone over.

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