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SLIPS: Favorites ‘Pummel’ Bookies in Conference Title Games

Josh Katzenstein for Bookies.com

Josh Katzenstein  | 7 mins

SLIPS: Favorites ‘Pummel’ Bookies in Conference Title Games

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Veteran sports reporter Josh Katzenstein, who has covered both the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints, takes a deep dive into the weekend’s NFL betting slips, including where the money went, the bad beats, amazing covers, stunning parlays and more.

Bookmakers dominated the first two weekends of postseason NFL betting, but bettors bounced back a bit Sunday with the conference championship games.

The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are heading to Super Bowl LIV and, with their double-digit wins, both home favorites covered the spread.

The top betting sites took plenty of action on the underdogs the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers – in the AFC and NFC title games, respectively. But bettors still mostly backed the favorites, and big favorites covering is typically a bad sign for the bookmakers.

“We got pummeled,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill. “Favorite and over, favorite and over, every teaser — yeah, it was ugly.”

RELATED: Where You Can Legally Bet on 49ers-Chiefs Super Bowl

At William Hill, 65% of spread tickets and 67% of the handle were on the Chiefs at -7, and 60% of spread tickets and 73% of the handle were on the 49ers, who moved up to 8-point favorites on Sunday in NFL odds.

Some people tried to find value by betting the underdogs at William Hill with 70% of moneyline tickets on the Titans and 73% on the Packers, but the moneyline handle still slightly favored the home teams with 51% on the Chiefs and 52% on the 49ers.

“A little Band-Aid maybe on the cut, but it didn’t overcome it,” Bogdanovich said of the moneyline action.

RELATED: NFL Conference Championship Betting Takeaways: Over Rules

This was a big bounceback for many bettors after losses by the Saints in the Wild-Card round and Ravens in the Divisional Round proved costly.

“Everyone finally got their teasers through, which was expected,” Bogdanovich said. “The previous two weeks the teasers got destroyed. (Bettors) were due for a winning week, and they got it.”

Bettors at some other books weren’t quite as fortunate. At SugarHouse, Kansas City had 69% of the spread handle and 62% of the moneyline handle, but bettors here preferred the Packers with 61% of the moneyline handle and 53% of the spread handle.

At PointsBet, 70% of the spread handle was on the Chiefs, and 55% of the spread handle was on the 49ers. However, 79% of the moneyline handle was on the Titans and a whopping 85% of the moneyline handle was on the Packers. PointsBet saw a lot of early money on Titans +9, which drove the line down to Titans +7.

Meanwhile, bettors crushed online sportsbooks across the board on the totals Sunday as both games went over.

William Hill saw 70% of the handle on over 51.5 in the AFC Championship and 73% of the handle on over 47 in the NFC Championship. The Chiefs-Titans game totaled 59, and the 49ers-Packers game totaled 57.

PointsBet took 59% of the handle on over 51 in the Chiefs game, and 75% of the handle on over 46.5 in the 49ers game. At SugarHouse, 57% of the handle was on over 51 in the Chiefs game, and 64% of the handle was on over 46.5 in the 49ers game.

“It was definitely a big day for the bettors yesterday,” Bogdanovich said.

NFL Prop Betting Action

William Hill did have some wins on Sunday thanks to prop bets. The most notable decision for the book was two Derrick Henry props going under as the Chiefs managed to slow down the stellar Titans running back.

One prop was Henry to score two-plus touchdowns at +240, and 99% of the handle was on yes. Henry had a touchdown in the first quarter, but didn’t score again.

The book also set Henry’s rushing total at 119.5 yards, and 87% of the handle was on the over. Henry finished with just 69 rushing yards despite having 62 in the first half.

”Props were outstanding,” Bogdanovich said. “That was one of the bigger prop days we’ve ever had on a non-Super Bowl (game). We did really good with the props.”

Early Super Bowl Odds Movement

William Hill opened Super Bowl betting with the Chiefs-49ers matchup listed as a pick-‘em Sunday night. But the line moved to Kansas City -1 about a half hour later, Bogdanovich said.

The total opened at 51.5, but that moved up to 53.5 later Sunday night, too.

As of 11:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, William Hill took 51% of spread tickets and 72% of the handle on the Chiefs, but 81% of moneyline tickets and 73% of the moneyline handle was on the 49ers. A massive 97% of the total handle was on the over.

Bogdanovich also said one bettor already placed a $100,000 bet on the 49ers at even money.

Hard at Work on Super Bowl Betting

Bogdanovich said prep for Super Bowl betting starts rapidly after the matchup is set.

“The next 48 hours to 72 hours is the hardest part,” he said Monday morning. “Trying to figure out what props to use, then making the numbers for those props, then getting them set up in the machine, getting sheets made. You’ve got to go to a printing company it’s such a production. You make so many of them, and there’s so many pages.”

He estimates William Hill will offer between 350 and 400 prop bets, giving bettors ample options to find obscure action on the biggest game of the year.

Futures One Step Away

William Hill shared some notable future Super Bowl bets on the Chiefs and 49ers from the past year, and the timing of the bets could lead to some monster payouts. The biggest ones are $8,000 on the Chiefs at 14/1, which would pay $112,000, and a $3,000 bet on the 49ers at 30/1, which would pay $90,000.

Ride a Cowboy at UFC 246

Bogdanovich said William Hill did well with UFC 246 because a lot of bettors favored underdog Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in his match against Conor “Notorious” McGregor.

William Hill had 86% of moneyline tickets on Cowboy +260, but 77% of the handle was on McGregor, who was heavily favored at -320.

Notable Bets

  • One bettor at PointsBet placed a $100 NFL futures betting wager at +4000 odds on the Chiefs and Packers to play in the Super Bowl. The bettor had a chance after the Chiefs won, but the Packers loss sent the potential $4,000 ticket up in flames.
  • At DraftKings, one bettor had $30 on 49ers running back Raheem Mostert to score three-plus touchdowns on Sunday. Mostert scored four touchdowns, resulting in a payout of $1,080.
  • Another DraftKings bettor had $500 on McGregor to win in the first round, which paid $1,475.

About the Author

Josh Katzenstein for Bookies.com
Josh Katzenstein
Josh Katzenstein is a former NFL beat writer. He spent the past three years covering the New Orleans Saints for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. His work can also be found at Bleacher Report.
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