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Line moves: 49ers opened at minus-3, currently minus-4.5
Leonard says: "My concerns are that San Fran looked great at home and dominated a game against a Green Bay team that earned a lot of respect because of its name. But Atlanta wins close games, which in a situation when you are a home underdog, you have to take it into account. Here is what interests me, though: Atlanta has played badly against mobile quarterbacks. But the team has come out and said it will play zone, which will cut down Kaepernick's opportunity to run, but make his passing opportunities for short yardage better. I'd play the under rushing yards, which the public will love the over on. And I'd play the over for passing attempts and completions."
Scucci says: "We wanted to make a number as high as possible because we knew ticket count would be about 3-1 on the Niners. I thought 3.5 would be high, but as soon as we hung that, we knew four was right, all the money came in I moved quickly to 4 and then quickly to 4.5, and I got a lot of Atlanta money at plus-4.5, so 4 seems to be the right number. They are betting San Fran like Atlanta doesn't have a shot."
Line moves: Patriots opened at minus-9.5, currently minus-8.5
Leonard says: "I was not surprised because I thought it would be in 7 range, but with Baltimore playing the fourth-longest game in history and reports of people on sideline saying it was brutal ... Still, if I did play anything I, would have to take the 'dog. The past four regular-season meetings were all less than a touchdown. My only concern is the game last week in the cold and older players on defense and New England having ability to play hurry up, which means Baltimore won't be able to bring in fresh bodies. Number-wise, I think Baltimore has value. But I am not enamored with this one."
Scucci: "Everyone has been on New England all year, we can't set them high enough. They keep covering, but it is nice to know at least the wiseguys are on Baltimore. That should even out action, because we know parlays and small money will be on New England. But, the truth is, I don't care how much wiseguys are on Baltimore, we will still need them in this game because of all the public money on New England."
Spread: 49ers minus-4
Public consensus pick: 63 percent picked 49ers
Public perception: The public loves to bet what they last saw, and their last remembrances of the NFC divisional playoff games were the 49ers running all over the Packers and the Falcons nearly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. PickCenter has more than 60 percent of the public on the 49ers, and that's consistent with other bet-tracking sites. The 49ers are favored despite Atlanta being 8-1 straight up at home this year, with the only loss being in Week 17, when the Falcons had their No. 1 seed locked up (and 33-6 SU with Matt Ryan as the starter). They continue to be the most disrespected No. 1 seed in recent memory.
Wiseguys' view: The wiseguys also jumped all over the 49ers when betting opened up Sunday afternoon while the Falcons' game was still in progress, but keep in mind that that was when lines from 49ers minus-1 to minus-2.5 were available. After the Falcons rallied on Matt Bryant's late field goal, most books were at minus-3 and were quickly bet to minus-3.5. That's where sharp bettors stopped (as no wiseguy worth his salt is going to lay more than a field goal when they could have gotten it lower no matter how much they like the team). It was the public that continued to push it higher as it peaked at several books at minus-4.5 (and some "square shops" at minus-5) before drifting back down. There's no doubt that several sharp bettors are holding tickets on 49ers minus-2.5 (or lower) and Falcons plus-4.5 and hoping for a middle to win both.
Tuley's Take: I really thought this line would come with the Falcons as a slight home favorite or pick-em, so I certainly see value in the Falcons getting more than a field goal at home. Home underdogs are 22-11 ATS in the NFL playoffs (and, in fact, 20-13 straight up) under the current playoff format, and that includes the loss by the Washington Redskins in the wild-card round against the Seahawks. I believe the 49ers are going to get their points, and in watching last week's game it scared me when I saw the Atlanta defense flying to Marshawn Lynch on read-option plays -- Russell Wilson could have had a lot more rushing yards. Hopefully they see the same thing on film, correct that and keep backside containment, or Colin Kaepernick will have a field day.
The key for me is if the Falcons can match them score-for-score. The 49ers' defense is very good, but in today's NFL that's not as much of a guarantee of success as it once was with all the rules favoring the offense. If the Falcons execute like they did in the first half against the Seahawks (another very good defense), they'll live up to their No. 1 seed and exceed people's expectations. If they don't execute, they'll get run out of the building. I'm counting on the former (and just pray they don't play too conservatively if they get the lead again). The pick: Falcons.
Spread: Patriots minus-9.5
Public consensus pick: 56 percent picked Ravens
Public perception: The public is on the underdog Ravens for many reasons. For one, the oddmakers know that there's a segment of the public that will back the Patriots at any price, so they posted the line high to balance the books. There are also those who believe in the "Ray Lewis farewell tour" and that they're going to put forth their best effort for their retiring leader. Besides, you don't have to be a wiseguy to know that the Ravens have played the Patriots tough over the years, including beating them 31-30 back in Week 3 and covering and nearly beating them (if not for a Lee Evans drop) in the AFC title game just last year at New England. None of the teams' past six meetings have been decided by more than six points, so taking more than a TD makes sense.
Wiseguys' view: There are also many sharps on the Baltimore side, though they were hoping the public would push the line to minus-10. It's not as much due to the Ravens' matching up well with the Patriots as it is that the Pats aren't as dominant as many believe them to be. New England is 2-7 ATS in its past nine games as playoff favorites (and one of those was last week's 41-28 cover against the Texans as 9.5-point favorites, though the back door was open if Houston had acted with more of a sense of urgency on its final drive).
Tuley's Take: As a contrarian bettor, it does give me pause when it appears that everyone is on the same side. Obviously, the Ravens match up with the Patriots based on recent history and these teams know each other very well. That should result in a close game. The concerns are that the Patriots are 4-0 SU at home in AFC title games. So just like last year, it's tough to go into Foxboro and win, plus the Pats don't take the foot off the gas and are very capable of tacking on that extra score to cover the number (which is why bettors love them so much!), but anything over a touchdown has to be a take. The pick: Ravens.
49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree has voluntarily met with San Francisco police in their investigation into an alleged sexual assault in a hotel after the team’s playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers last weekend, his attorney said Saturday.
"Michael fully cooperated with the inspectors and will continue to do so throughout this investigation," the attorney, Joshua Bentley, said in a brief statement.
The statement comes after police said they were investigating a sexual assault allegation involving Crabtree in a hotel early last Sunday. Crabtree hasn’t been detained or arrested, and has agreed to be available for more questions, police said.
The Linemakers, along with a host of other Las Vegas experts, sports book directors and writers, weigh in with their picks:
Rick Herron, veteran Vegas sports book manager and current radio host and analyst for The Linemakers – Ravens 34, Patriots 31: “These two teams know each other very well, and the Ravens should have won last year.”
Jeff Sherman, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino SuperBook assistant manager – Patriots 30, Ravens 17
Todd Fuhrman, former Caesars sports book analyst, currently with DonBest.com – Patriots 27, Ravens 20
Richie Baccellieri, veteran Vegas sports book manager and analyst for The Linemakers – Patriots 34, Ravens 17
Lou D’Amico, veteran Vegas sports book director – Patriots 28, Ravens 21
Larry Hartstein, staff writer for The Linemakers and NFL blogger for CBS Sports – Patriots 31, Ravens 27: “The Pats are fresher, and they're more balanced offensively than ever before.”