NFL’s ‘Super Wild Card Weekend’ Means Sportsbook Betting Extravaganza

Posted on: January 9, 2021, 09:14h.

Last updated on: January 9, 2021, 05:49h.

With six NFL playoff games this weekend and the college football national championship to be decided on Monday night, this will be the greatest three days of the football season and a huge bonanza for the exploding sports gambling industry.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 27 in Seattle. Having split their regular-season games, Goff is questionable for Saturday’s rematch following thumb surgery. (Image: Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL is calling this “Super Wild Card Weekend,” with the expanded playoffs meaning six first-round playoff games instead of the usual four. While the schedule is tailored for television, it’s a major victory for sportsbooks as well.

I love the way they’re positioned, with games at 10 o’clock, 1:40, 5:15 (Pacific), so plenty of spacing in between the games and plenty of time for the bettors to get their bets in for the game following. I’m excited about these games, and I know the bettors will be, also,” said Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook for DraftKings, to Casino.org.

To cap it off, it will be Ohio State vs. Alabama – two traditional powerhouses – on Monday night to determine the champion of college football.

Wild NFL Weekend

On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts are 6.5-point underdogs at the Buffalo Bills, the Los Angeles Rams are 3-point underdogs at Seattle, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 8-point favorites at Washington.

On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens are 3-point favorites at the Tennessee Titans, the Chicago Bears are 10-point underdogs at the New Orleans Saints, and the Cleveland Browns are 6-point underdogs at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I expect demand to be very big,” said John Sheeran, the director of trading for FanDuel Sportsbook, to Casino.org. “The format of the games over the weekend, with no competing college football, means we expect huge interest. Probably comparable turnover despite just 40 percent of the slate.”

The survivors will advance to next weekend’s divisional round. The top seeds in each conference, the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC, received first-round byes. At FanDuel, the Chiefs are the favorite to win the Super Bowl at +220, while Green Bay is next at +470.

Questions for Rams, Browns

In Saturday’s Seahawks-Rams game, the big question revolves around the availability of Rams quarterback Jared Goff. He recently had thumb surgery, but did practice this week.

I don’t think it matters, I really don’t,” Avello said. “His last three or four games of the year, he just hasn’t played that well. Maybe this guy [backup John Wolford] is as good, and he gives them some mobility, for sure. Defense is what they’re all about. They need to shut down Seattle, whose offense hasn’t been all that great.”

In Sunday’s Browns-Steelers game, the big question centers on Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski, who is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

To Avello, the loss of the coach – a leading Coach of the Year candidate – is more important than the loss of the player, even someone like Goff, who plays the most important position and has reached a Super Bowl in his young career.

“It’s interesting, because it doesn’t happen too often,” he said. “Remember when it was announced that (Alabama’s) Nick Saban had COVID and he was going to be out for the Georgia game? The game went from 6 down to 4.5. Then, when it was announced that he was going to be on the sideline, we were back up to 6. That’s a coach that really makes a difference. I think Stefanski makes a difference. He’s done a good job.”

At FanDuel, Saturday’s Indianapolis-Buffalo game is the most lopsided, with 83 percent of the spread money on the Bills. Sunday’s Baltimore-Tennessee game has the most two-way betting, with 59 percent of the money on the Ravens.

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