NFL odds in Las Vegas have the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons favored to win their respective conference championships this Sunday. But the spreads aren’t large, meaning the bookmaking experts in Nevada believe the weekend’s final games before Super Bowl LI will be close contests.
The casinos are due, as the first two rounds of the NFL Playoffs and the College Football National Championship both largely went in favor of the bettors. Clemson’s surprising upset of #1 Alabama devastated books’ bottom lines, as the vast majority of gamblers took the Tigers and roughly seven points to beat the spread.
InÂ the pro game, the heavily bet Green Bay Packers’ back-to-back wins as underdogs led to poor results for the oddsmakers.
Parlays, which require bettors to choose winners in multiple games, deliversÂ bigger payouts. During the Wild Card round, all four of the favorites covered the spread, meaning many parlay tickets paid handsomely.
Packers vs. Falcons (Sunday, 3:05 PM ET)
The NFC Championship game is first up, with the 11-5 Falcons hosting the 10-6 Packers in Atlanta. All the major sportsbooks in Vegas (Westgate SuperBook, Wynn, Caesars, Mirage, Stations) have Atlanta as a 4.5-point favorite.
StrongerÂ odds, depending on which team you like, are being offered at online books. Bovada has the Packers getting only four points, while 5Dimes and SportBetÂ gives them five.
Steelers vs. Patriots (Sunday, 6:40 PM ET)
The AFC Championship will determine the second team heading to the big game. Ben Roethlisberger’s 11-5 Steelers travel to Foxborough to take on Tom Brady’s 14-2 Patriots.
Vegas believes this game won’t be as close, with Pittsburgh being handed six points. The NevadaÂ and online books are in unison in believing New England will win by at least two field goals.
Raiders Raid Vegas
In other NFL news, Mark Davis has officially filed relocation paperwork to move his Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas.
The team had a disappointing end to an otherwise wonderful regular season after star quarterback Derek Carr suffered a leg injury in week 15. His sideliningÂ essentially ended the Raiders’ hopes of reaching the Super Bowl, and the team lost in the Wild Card round to the Houston Texans.
For Raiders fans, the worst might be yet to come. Davis filing for relocation is the first official step to strip the franchise from the Bay Area, but certainly doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.
Twenty-four of the league’s 32 owners must approve the move, and that vote is expected to take place in March. But before then, Davis must present a fully executed transition plan, and while funding for a $1.9 billion stadium in Sin City is in place, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered.
The primary issue is whether billionaire Sheldon Adelson is still committed to funding the stadium with $650 million of his own cash. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) is ready to help in any way he can in order to bring Vegas its second major professional sports franchise.
“Mark Davis is a man of his word,” the governor tweeted. “The filing . . . is a significant step in bringing the team to Nevada.”