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Bookmakers, sharps talk divisional round bets; Mattress Mack bets big on Cowboys HP NEWS

To borrow a phrase from March Madness, we’re down to the Elite Eight, with NFL betting now focused on the divisional round. And it’s no surprise at all that the Kansas City Chiefs are part of the remaining field, as the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

But the Chiefs’ opponent this week? Now that’s a surprise. And bettors are certainly intrigued by the resilient Jacksonville Jaguars.

Let’s dive into more on the Jaguars-Chiefs clash, the two FOX games and betting nuggets on the rest of the NFL divisional playoff odds market.

Liking Lawrence

Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence got a very rude welcome to the NFL playoffs over Super Wild Card Weekend. Lawrence threw four first-half interceptions, contributing greatly to Jacksonville falling into a 27-0 hole against the Los Angeles Chargers.

But Lawrence flipped the script, throwing four TD passes while leading the third-biggest comeback in NFL postseason history. The Jaguars, 2.5-point home underdogs, won 31-30 on a final-seconds field goal.

That didn’t keep WynnBet from opening the Chiefs as 9-point home favorites. After all, Kansas City went a rock-solid 14-3 straight up (SU) in the regular season. But it’s worth pointing out that Patrick Mahomes & Co. were a dismal 5-11-1 against the spread (ATS). Plus, bettors seem to like this Jaguars story.

“The side has seen a heavy ticket count on Jacksonville +9 and +8.5. This is public action,” WynnBet senior trader John Manica said Wednesday night. “The bets have [mostly] been between $200 and $1,000. The larger wagers on this game are sure to come later in the week when the limits are higher. The Jaguars are shaping up to be a popular ‘dog.”

While the public – perhaps surprisingly so – is on the Jaguars so far, Manica said the sharpest wager this week was on the total, with a respected bettor playing Over 52.

“We quickly moved to 53,” he said. “We have received several smaller wagers on Under 53 and have moved back down half a point to 52.5.”

How ‘Bout Them … 49ers?

Rex Beyers, veteran Vegas oddsmaker and now the head of wagering at PlayUp US, is the ideal person to talk to when discussing odds and action. Beyers won’t tell you everything – he’s not giving away any secret sauce – but when he’s got an opinion to share, he doesn’t sugarcoat it.

And he’s got an opinion on the huge Dallas Cowboys-San Francisco 49ers clash, set for 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday night, which can be seen on FOX and the FOX Sports App. The 49ers are consensus 3.5-point favorites. Beyers has gone to -4 a couple of times and doesn’t think Dallas – whom he loved last week against Tampa Bay – has the goods this week.

“I really think the overreaction here has been swift, severe and unacceptable,” Beyers said, believing people put a little too much stock in the Cowboys’ 31-14 rout of the Bucs. “I’m not buying it. I think the situation and the spot are awful for Dallas. I can’t have Dallas.

“I loved the Cowboys on Monday night, but with Dallas getting two days less rest and the travel, there are too many positives for San Francisco, which should be able to name the score. Whether the 49ers will, we’ll see.”

With that in mind, Beyers is booking this game to need home favorite San Francisco (14-4 SU, 12-6 ATS), which is on an 11-game win streak in which it’s gone 9-2 ATS. Dallas enters this matchup at 13-5 SU/10-7-1 ATS.

“The fact that we need the Niners for a decent amount doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I want to need them more,” Beyers said.

Respected Cowboys Action

Meanwhile, Manica noted that professional bettors hit the Cowboys early in the week at WynnBet.

“There was a clear-cut sharp play [Tuesday]. A limit wager at +4 came through on the Cowboys as the market was moving down to 3.5. Shortly after that, a respectable source bet +3.5 for the limit,” Manica said.

At that point, Manica adjusted the price on the 49ers, moving the favorite to -3.5 (-104) and -3.5 (-106). That finally drew some San Francisco action from price-sensitive bettors. But as of late Wednesday night, WynnBet is joining PlayUp in needing the Niners.

“We have liability on Dallas in what is likely to be a closely contested game, where the points are valuable,” Manica said. “The total has received two-way action, getting bet up from the opening number of 46 to 47. We took bets back down to 46, where we currently stand. It is clear there are two different respected opinions on the total.”

More on The Sharp Side

In our weekly check-in with a professional bettor, he noted only one matchup that stood out so far: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills. Cincinnati’s offensive line could be minus left tackle Jonah Williams and right guard Alex Cappa, both questionable. That’s in addition to losing right tackle La’el Collins to a knee injury late in the regular season.

“I played Buffalo -3 when it opened,” the sharp bettor said. “I think the Cincy offensive line is a huge problem. I believe Buffalo will be lethal on offense and will win the turnover battle. 31-17 Buffalo.”

Short-changed Cincy

That sharp bettor may well be right. But if that’s the case, Beyers believes it’s due in no small part to the scheduling machinations instituted by the NFL, as it tried to solve the seeding issues created by the canceling of the Bills-Bengals Week 17 Monday night game.

Cincinnati finished the regular season 12-4 SU (12-3-1 ATS), while Buffalo finished 13-3 SU (8-7-1 ATS).

“From a situational standpoint, I think the Bengals have gotten hosed more than any other team in the league,” Beyers said. “This should be a neutral-field game, and it’s not. But this may be something that galvanizes the Bengals – ‘It’s us vs. the world, because they’re putting us in a road game when it should be neutral.’”

Beyers said both teams have plenty of motivation. The Bills blew a 17-0 lead against Miami on Wild Card Weekend, barely claiming a 34-31 victory. But that could work to Buffalo’s advantage.

“When you get a team that has to gut one out and escapes, that becomes a dangerous team,” Beyers said. “But the Bengals have clearly been an ATS-win-producing cash cow. They won’t be rattled by playing on the road. I think the Bengals are the right side.”

Beyers said PlayUp saw sharp money on the Bills -4 (-112), and Buffalo is currently a 5-point favorite. Several sportsbooks have the Bills at -5.5, but Beyers thinks that will be the limit.

“I don’t see the number going any higher. There’s a better chance of going to 4/4.5 than going to 6,” Beyers said.

Winds of Change

WynnBet opened the Bengals-Bills total at 50 and stuck there until Tuesday. At that point, it became apparent weather could be an issue for Joe Burrow and the Bengals and Josh Allen and the Bills. In just a few minutes Tuesday morning, the total fell to 49, then 48.5 before stabilizing at 48.

“The highest winds of the day (20-30 mph) are expected during game time,” Manica said of a 3 p.m. ET Sunday start. “The total opened at 50, where we took a limit wager [on the Under] from a respected player. The market continued to cascade down quickly. I was in control of the NFL at the time and adjusted us to the bottom of the market to guard against Under bets piling up.

“We got some bets back at 48 on the Over, but nothing significant enough to move the total back up.”

WynnBet opened the spread at Bills -4.5 and got to -5.5 by Wednesday afternoon.

“The side has taken two-way action, with opinions on both teams, the most significant of those being a bet on the Bills at -5,” Manica said. “However, the ticket count favors the Bengals, as the smaller wagers once again are piling up on the ‘dog.”

Taking Flight

The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles quickly renew their NFC East rivalry just two weeks after they last met. In between, the Giants – 10-7-1 SU and an NFL-best 14-4 ATS – went to Minnesota and beat the Vikings 31-24 as 2.5-point Wild Card underdogs.

Philly, as the No. 1 seed, had a bye last week, so the Eagles are meeting the Giants for a second straight game. And early bettors seem to think there’ll be some scoring in this 8:15 p.m. ET Saturday meeting on FOX.

“Fly Total Fly. That is what happened to the opening total of 46.5,” WynnBet’s Manica said. “The sharps decided to show their hand early by whacking the total multiple times. We got two limit wagers, one at 47 and the other at 47.5, taking us to 48. 

There has been little interest on the Under in this game.”

As for the spread, Manica noted plenty of smaller plays – in the $250-$500 range – on the road ‘dog Giants at +7.5, after sharp Eagles play moved the line from Philadelphia -7 to -7.5.

“The opening number of -7 moved quickly, as a limit wager on the [Eagles] side and moneyline moved us off the key number,” Manica said. “The Giants are shaping up to be another popular ‘dog. The ticket count is soaring on the G-Men. I feel like we will see more Eagles money when the limits go up and [Jalen] Hurts – who is almost assuredly going to start – has some positive practice news come out.”

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I Like Big Bets and I Cannot Lie

You’ll never guess who got involved in the Cowboys-49ers game. I’ll give you hint: He lives in Texas and sells a lot of furniture.

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale on Thursday put two $1 million bets on the Cowboys moneyline, one at +165 to win $1.65 million, and one at +170 to win $1.7 million. Both bets were made at Caesars Sports’ retail book at the Horseshoe Lake Charles (La.) Hotel & Casino.

That comes in the wake of McIngvale’s $200,000 bet Monday on Dallas +625 to win the NFC championship.

Caesars Sports noted it’s seen a few more significant wagers in the NFL divisional playoff odds market. One bettor put $110,000 on the Bills -4 vs. the Bengals, then interestingly came back with another $220,000 on the Bills -5.

Other big plays for this weekend and left over from the Monday night Cowboys-Bucs tilt:

  • $330,000 Bills -5 vs. Bengals
  • $220,000 49ers -3.5 vs. Cowboys
  • $540,000 Bucs +3 (-120) vs. Cowboys (loss)
  • $200,000 Bucs moneyline +125 vs. Cowboys (loss)
  • $100,000 Cowboys -3 (win)

And there were two major sweats on Under bets from the Dallas-Tampa game. A Caesars customer wagered $110,000 on Under 45.5, and a big high roller at BetMGM plopped $480,000 on Under 46.5 (-120).

Final score: Cowboys 31, Buccaneers 14. And Dallas place-kicker Brett Maher missed four extra points. FOX Sports Research noted that since 1932, when PAT statistics were first tracked, no kicker has ever missed four extra points in a game.

If Maher makes even two of those kicks – which really should be a foregone conclusion – then both those major wagers go down in flames. Which just shows you that it’s smart to keep your bets reasonable, folks.

Especially in the playoffs. You never know what’s gonna happen.

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.

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