Thursday, January 20, 2011

AFC & NFC Championship Weekend Betting Moves in Las Vegas; Lots of Packers Money!

By Micah Roberts

Bettors are excited about the Packers this week
Even though both number one seeds have been eliminated, it’s hard to imagine a better lineup than we have for this weeks AFC and NFC Championship games. A couple of two and six seeds having at it for the right to go to the Super Bowl wouldn’t have sounded so hot a few weeks prior to the season, but according to Lucky’s Race and Sports Book Director Jimmy Vaccaro, this is the best possible scenario for the sports books in regards to creating handle.

“People were getting tired of the Patriots. Now we have some great matchups this week with two huge markets in Chicago and New York along with two storied franchises rich with football history in Pittsburgh and Green Bay. We couldn‘t ask for a better combination of four teams from a perspective of getting more people to the windows with opinions.”

It’s fair to say that no matter where you live, you know someone from one of those areas. Who doesn‘t know someone that can recall one of their greatest thrills in sports occurring from one of those franchises, I can‘t say I don‘t. Namath’s Jets, the ‘85 Bears, the Steel Curtain and Lombardi’s Packers; all those memories come together this week with a wider range of age groups having a stake than any combination the Falcons, Patriots or Saints could have given us.

Due in part to some of those reasons, the expected increase handle won’t just stop with the Championship games.

“Regardless of who makes the Super Bowl,” Vaccaro explained, “the fan intrigue is going to be there for either team which should lead to a big Super Bowl write.“

The early wagers have been sort of an indication of who the public is siding with. On one side, it’s been all Packers action and in the other game, it’s been a tossup.

Jimmy Vaccaro  
“I’m still waiting for someone to make a Bears bet,” joked Vaccaro. “We’ve got about a 7 to 1 ticket count ratio on the Packers. If the Packers go down, regardless of what happens in the other game, the books will have a good day.”

Lucky’s chain of books across Nevada opened the Packers minus-3 (-105), but has climbed up the ladder quickly with seven separate moves until finally settling at the current number of minus-3 ½ flat. They had went as high as minus-3 (-135), but bettors still laid it forcing them to get off the key number.

Between the Packers actual play on the field and public sentiment in their corner, Vaccaro also posted up Super Bowl lines with the Packers being a 3-point favorite against the Jets and Pick’em with the Steelers. He also has the Steelers minus-4 against the Bears and minus-1 ½ versus the Jets.

As for the other Championship game with split opinions, you’ve got two proud fan bases. With Pittsburgh, you’ve got a solid foundation of long time loyal fans to go along with another faction who just simply fares well with taking the Steelers in the playoffs.

With the Jets, you have their large fan base of hungry, excited people waiting for their first Super Bowl appearance since 1969. But beyond those faithful fans, they’ve also grown a loyal following of bettors who have routinely cashed in big with the underdog Jets in the last two playoff seasons.

“We’ve been bouncing around from minus-3 ½ to minus-4 with the Steelers. It’s been all Jets at plus-4 and all Steelers at minus-3 ½,” Vaccaro said.

In addition to the Super Bowl lines already put up for the four prospective matchups, Lucky’s is also offering a wide assortment of Championship game propositions as a mini preview to the hundreds they’ll do for the Super Bowl. Along with player props, special point spreads and in-game wagering, Vaccaro is also offering Yes/No props on each team to win the Super Bowl.

“We’ve found that bettors really like that option of betting against a team from a value standpoint,” said Vaccaro.

Packers defense shut out Jets 9-0 in week 8
The worst possible situation for the sports books this week would appear to be the Packers covering and the Jets winning outright. Even though the Steelers game is split, the factor that sends the risk over the edge is the Jets money line at a plus-175 payout, which multiplied by parlays to the Packers would make it a hefty blow to Las Vegas.

I kind of hope it happens, even though I consider most of the book Directors my friends.

The Vegas sports books had their best football season ever, so it’s time to give a little back to the bettors in the new year. Beyond that, I do believe the Jets-Packers matchup would create the most interest for the Super Bowl which would be a huge spike for business in Las Vegas; not just at the sports books, but for the entire gaming and non-gaming community.

Jets-Packers hype wouldn’t start because of seeing two teams whose main color is green going against each other, although that would be very cool too, but because they have the best stories going right now. There is no buzz surrounding the Steelers, or the Bears, and many of the fringe fans that the Super Bowl attracts know more about the childish Jay Cutler demanding a trade out of Denver than they know about his turnaround in Chicago this year. They also know more about Ben Roethlisberger’s jurisprudence stories than they’d like to which turns off that casual fan, and it’s those fans that make a Super Bowl truly super from a betting standpoint.

Two six seeds in the Super Bowl? That is a crazy thought, but they are both kind of the mainstream topic right now and I‘m hopping on the bandwagon dressed in Green.

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