You didn’t put money on Philip Rivers against Brady and Belichick in the cold, did you? Tsk tsk ... For­tune favours the favourites as dogs go down big-time ... Saints early faves

The Province - - SPORTS - Rob Longley’s lat­est on NFL gam­bling

Did those who tossed good money af­ter bad on the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers lead­ing up to Sun­day’s di­vi­sional round game in New Eng­land re­ally think it would be that easy?

With Philip Rivers as the quar­ter­back in the cold? With

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady wait­ing at home in Foxbor­ough where di­vi­sional round op­po­nents come to die? Did the Charg­ers re­ally seem to be that good of a bet?

Yes, the AFC’s Los An­ge­les en­try took line-mov­ing amounts of money dur­ing the week while the Pa­tri­ots lis­tened to the silly Any Squad Any Place (ASAP) thingee of the Charg­ers and then did what they do.

While a blowout may have been a stretch to pre­dict, the Pa­tri­ots cer­tainly had some strong historical fac­tors on their side prior to rolling to an easy 41-28 win and cover as four-point home favourites.

Head­ing into Sun­day’s non-con­test at Gil­lette Sta­dium, the Pa­tri­ots had won their pre­vi­ous seven con­sec­u­tive di­vi­sional round games at home and did so by an av­er­age of 17 points per. In that run, New Eng­land had also rolled to a 6-1 record vs. the spread.

So why the love for the Charg­ers? A com­bi­na­tion of bet­tors over-re­act­ing to some re­cent un­der­dog suc­cess and the silly no­tion that the Pa­tri­ots are sud­denly all done as a dy­nasty cer­tainly must have caused an over re­ac­tion at the bet­ting win­dows.

The Pa­tri­ots were dis­missed by many bet­tors far and wide lead­ing well-re­spected gam­ing an­a­lyst Todd Fuhrman of­fered this via Twit­ter: “Some­thing I never thought I’d hear from mul­ti­ple book­mak­ers years ago dur­ing a Pa­tri­ots play­off game... They’re root­ing for New Eng­land not only to win out­right but also to cover to­day as short home favourites.”

Trans­lated, the Charg­ers were so heav­ily backed that sports books through­out Ve­gas were fac­ing a se­ri­ous li­a­bil­ity if they cov­ered and es­pe­cially won out­right. Not long af­ter the lines opened, the Pa­tri­ots were favoured by five be­fore the Los An­ge­les money came in, knock­ing it as low as 3 1/2 points on Satur­day night.

In­stead, the Pa­tri­ots dom­i­nated from the out­set, rolling up a 28-7 lead and with a touch­down still to score in the first half be­fore the early lines for next week’s AFC Cham­pi­onship al­ready ap­peared, tab­bing the Chiefs as three-point home favourites.

HAIL TO THE CHIEFS?

If Kansas City re­mains favoured — and that’s likely how it will go down — it will end a streak of 67 con­sec­u­tive games that New Eng­land was the bet­ting line choice with Brady as their start­ing quar­ter­back.

It also just the sec­ond time since 2007 that the Pa­tri­ots haven’t been favoured in the post sea­son (23 of the past 24). The other ex­cep­tion be­ing the 2014 AFC Cham­pi­onship in Den­ver where the Bron­cos were favoured by five.

So do you like the Chiefs? Ap­par­ently CBS’s Tony Romo does, es­sen­tially tout­ing K.C. over the Pa­tri­ots. Of course, Romo wasn’t par­tic­u­larly well known for his strong de­ci­sion mak­ing at this time of year.

FAVOURITE TIME?

By the time the Satur­day kick­offs ar­rived, one of the most widely cited stats of di­vi­sional round week­end was one we dropped in this space last week: Un­der­dogs were on a 14-1 run vs. the spread, in­clud­ing a 4-0 sweep in wild­card week­end.

So of course the pub­lic got on the dog train this week and of course they mostly got it handed to them. The di­vi­sional round is not the wild­card round, as we saw with the four top seeds ad­vanc­ing and for the most part with rel­a­tive ease.

We were cer­tainly re­minded early in the Chiefs-Colts game when the home side jumped out to a big early lead and never re­ally looked back. Despite the fact that ev­ery would-be wise guy was tout­ing the Colts, which moved the bet­ting line to just 4 1/2 point, the Chiefs dom­i­nated and cruised to a an easy 31-13 win and cover.

The Rams also cov­ered as seven-point favourites with their 30-22 win over the Cow­boys though Dal­las back­ers held some brief late hope for a push, hop­ing that coach Ja­son

Gar­rett would go for two points on his team’s last, late touch­down. Set­tling for one sealed it for Rams bet­tors, help­ing favourites to a 3-1 record vs. the spread on the week­end.

It was quite a re­ver­sal from a year ago when dogs went 3-1 vs. the line and from a week ago when wild­card dogs swept the slate.

SAINTS ALIVE

The only favourite not to cover — although it was close at the end — the top-seeded Saints held on for a 20-14 win over the reign­ing cham­pion Ea­gles. For that, New Or­leans opened as the 3 1/2 point home favourite over the Rams in the NFC Cham­pi­onship Game.

Mean­while, any­one with money on the spread had a wild ride for their money in the Saints clutch come­back. With a clos­ing line of 8 1/2, the favoured host side found them­selves in an early 14-0 hole yet still al­most cov­ered.

Up 20-14 and look­ing to make it a two-pos­ses­sion game, the Saints failed to cap­i­tal­ize on a 52-yard Will Lutz field goal at­tempt with three min­utes re­main­ing. Ul­ti­mately it had no ef­fect on the fi­nal score, but mil­lions of dol­lars changed would have changed hands if Lutz had split the up­rights.

— GETTY IM­AGES

Pa­tri­ots QB Tom Brady (left) and cen­tre David An­drews cel­e­brate an early touch­down dur­ing their romp over the L.A. Charg­ers yes­ter­day.

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