January 18, 2019
Each Friday for PhillyVoice, Steve Maltepes, known as “The Philly Godfather,” will impart his gambling wisdom on where the smart money is going. This weekend, that specifically refers to the NFC and AFC Championships. Maltepes is one of the nation’s hottest sports betting experts who appears weekly on national radio and has his own website, www.thephillygodfather.com.
What is the line telling you: This line opened up with the Saints being 3.5-point favorites with the combined total set at 56.5. Since then, we’ve seen some small money hit the screen, which has forced the price to move back and forth from 3 to 3.5 all week, and total moved by a half-point. As of right now, you can purchase the Saints at 3.5 at even money at most sports books in Vegas, while offshore giant Pinnacle is trying to entice you at plus-105, if you’re looking to get down on Drew Brees and his gang. The early market reports from behind the counter and coast-to-coast are all reporting the heavy 70-30 ticket count on all tickets punched favoring the Rams, along with the total money wagered as well. Everyone is rushing to the windows to grab the hook, and what recreational sports bettors believe will be a real close game.
We like the Saints, even though the Rams have recently been averaging 106 yards more rushing per game. At least on paper, it looks like the Rams beat the better team in Dallas during the divisional round by a bigger margin. But the reality is the Eagles were a better team than Dallas going into the playoffs. Nick Foles can beat you with his arm, whereas Dak Prescott just isn’t that type of quarterback. The Rams defense dominated the Cowboys offense in third down, when the Cowboys were just 1-10 in those crucial spots. That fell on the shoulders of Prescott.
There is no way the Rams’ defense does that to drew Brees here. The other problem the Rams may face is that if they fall behind early, they will have to abandon the run. The Rams are averaging 200 yards passing over recent play, which is 30-percent less than what they averaged over the season. The Rams home-road splits show almost a dramatic drop in almost every offensive category. They don’t perform as well on the road as they do at home.
Bottom line, you can’t take Jared Goff on the road over Brees, you can’t take Sean McVay over Sean Payton and take the Rams’ defense over the Saints’ defense in the dome. The Saints have the better offensive and defensive lines, and better efficiency numbers.
Bottom line: The smart money likes the Saints, and a leaning towards the under at 56 small.
What is the line telling you: Oddsmakers opened this line with the Chiefs being 3-point home favorites over the Patriots, with the combined total set at 58.5 We immediately saw the wiseguys go to work as we witnessed sharp money attack the screen and start shooting down the total. By Monday, this line had dropped to as low as 54 before we saw some buy back in the market, which pushed it back up to where it currently sits patiently at 56 awaiting the Arctic blast. The side, however, has stayed frozen in Vegas and on that key number of 3, regardless of a couple of sharp betting syndicates, who sent out some purchase orders off screen on New England, mainly due to the fact that they feel playing in a winter storm would favor the team with the better run game, and the shorter intermediate passing attack over the team that depends heavily on vertical passes.
On offense, the Chiefs average almost a full yard more per pass attempt, and a full yard more per play, which is ranked 12 spots higher in red zone scoring efficiency than New England. When the Patriots are on the road, they drop down to 29th in the league in that metric. But how many times have we seen New England's defensive mastermind Bill Belichick shutdown a high-powered offense over the years? Too many times.
Throughout the years, what has always given Tom Brady problems has never been an opposing teams defensive metrics, it’s been pressure. And the one thing this Chiefs defense is good at is sacking the quarterback. They arguably have the best pass rush in the NFL this year. Obviously, we all know by now you'll go broke betting against Brady long term, but when the books are making the greatest quarterback of all-time an underdog and begging for Patriots’ money says something.
Bottom line: The smart money likes the Chiefs minus-3.
(Betting lines are subject to change.)
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