Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Potential Super Bowl lines (open for betting)
- Patriots -2 vs. 49ers; over/under: 49
- Patriots -6 vs. Falcons; over/under: 51.5
- 49ers -4 vs. Ravens; over/under: 46.5
- Falcons pick'em vs. Ravens; over/under: 49.5
- Source: William Hill sports books
Odds to win the Super Bowl
- Patriots — Even
- 49ers — 2-to-1
- Falcons — 6-to-1
- Ravens — 8-to-1
- Line: AFC -3 vs. NFC; over/under: 51.5
- Source: LVH Superbook
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- Talking Points
The Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons made local sports books sound like amusement parks last weekend.
The two teams’ exhilarating comeback victories in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs produced more shrieks and roars than the world’s most famous thrill rides.
Baltimore, 9.5-point underdogs, cashed money-line tickets as high as plus-350 (risking $1 to win $3.50) in Denver after Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute to go to send the game to overtime. Atlanta rewarded bettors who took it at minus-125 (risking $1.25 to win $1) on the money line but failed to cover the 2.5-point spread when Matt Bryant kicked a last-second field goal to beat Seattle 30-28.
Too bad bettors prefer dominance to drama. Neither the Ravens, 9.5-point underdogs at the New England Patriots, nor the Falcons, 4-point underdogs at home against the San Francisco 49ers, are popular choices in this weekend’s conference championship games.
“As you might expect, they like the favorites,” said Ken Miller, Cantor Gaming spokesman. “It’s still early — we’ll do most of our business Friday, Saturday and Sunday — but to this point, the public is high on the Niners and Patriots.”
Other books have reported more balanced action on the Ravens vs. Patriots, at least so far. The line has bounced between 9 and 9.5 everywhere except Station Casinos, where support on Baltimore has dropped the number to 8.5.
“I don’t know if people are starting to believe something special is happening with this Ravens team or if it’s the Ray Lewis charm,” Red Rock Resort race and sports Director Jason McCormick said. “Maybe they can see the Ravens hanging around here because they’ve proven they can play with the Patriots. We’ve taken some money that way.”
McCormick wishes he could say the same for the Falcons.
Less than 24 hours after 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick racked up a historic 444 yards of total offense in a 45-31 win over the Packers, sports books opened San Francisco as 3-point favorites at Atlanta. The spread went to 3.5 within minutes and 4 by Sunday night.
Some sports books even briefly adjusted to 49ers minus-4.5, begging for buyback on the Falcons.
“I’m really surprised on the influx of 49ers money and the disrespect of this Atlanta team,” McCormick said. “They just aren’t a public favorite and never get heavily bet. The Packers are a team that the public loves to bet. I think if you were a Packers fan and saw what the 49ers did to them, you said, ‘I’m jumping on the 49ers next week.’”
McCormick envisions the NFC Championship Game as closer than most think. Miller doesn’t disagree.
Cantor has stood strong with San Francisco as 3-point favorites, charging minus-140 to bet the favorite instead of moving the line as of Wednesday evening. Miller and his team believe it’s the right number.
“That’s what our algorithms tell us to do,” Miller said. “We’ve done a lot of business, and that’s what it says to do. We want to stay there.”
It’s not all negative for Las Vegas if the Patriots and 49ers prevail. The matchup actually would create the most significant boon for the Super Bowl in two weeks.
Last year’s Super Bowl between the New York Giants and Patriots brought in the second highest handle in Nevada history at $93,899,840. Patriots vs. 49ers is the only game that could threaten that volume this year.
“That’s the matchup we’re looking for as far as highest possible handle is concerned,” McCormick said. “Getting two teams who were expected at the top of their conference that played an intriguing game three weeks ago that everyone could look back on would make it interesting.”
Unlike the divisional round, where there’s a history of upsets, favorites have fared quite well in conference championship games. Both favorites won to go to the Super Bowl in five of the past 10 years, since the NFL implemented its current playoff system.
Last year was the first time both conference championship game underdogs covered in that span — the Giants defeated the 49ers straight-up getting two points and the Ravens lost by three but beat the 7-point spread against the Patriots. Favorites are 13-7 against the spread in conference championship games since 2002.
But don’t write off the Falcons or Ravens.
“I think these are going to be close fights,” Miller said.