It’s been a rough year for Vegas bookmakers when it comes to the NFL, but Sunday was truly the “Red Wedding.” Outright wins by popular underdogs Green Bay and Pittsburgh cost sportsbooks record losses, and the carnage may not be done, with both teams getting points this weekend as well.
Another factor that led to their demise was the game total in the Packers-Cowboys tilt. Set at a mere 53.5, the teams crushed the over, combining for 65 points in a wild game.
That result wasn’t a surprise to those who have been following the Packers during their run up to the postseason. It was the sixth straight time they’ve gone over the total, and tenth time in their last 12. With Aaron Rodgers playing his best football, perhaps ever, Green Bay hasn’t scored fewer than 30 points in a game since Dec. 4. They’re an offensive juggernaut, and this weekend, Vegas finally set a game total that might make you pause … until you remember that they’re going up against the league’s highest scoring team.
Putting up the seventh-most points all-time (equaling the 2000 Rams), the Atlanta Falcons have been a Vegas nightmare when it comes to the game total, going over in 15 of 17 games this year. Their unstoppable offense averaged 33.8 points per outing this season, while on defense, they allowed a rather cushy 25.4. So on an average day, Atlanta games featured 59 points. And this weekend figures to be anything but average.
The game total for this weekend’s NFC Championship opened at 61. It’s the highest in playoff history, and if it doesn’t move, will be the second-highest game total in NFL history, period. Despite these staggering numbers, it’s difficult to find a reason why anyone would take the under.
For starters, these teams met back in Week 8 in the Georgia Dome and combined for 65 points in a narrow Falcons win. Green Bay didn’t look great on offense coming into that game, having just lost Eddie Lacy for the season and striving to find any offensive balance. (Rodgers was actually the team’s leading rusher that afternoon.) Yet both offenses were still able to have their way, and the going should only be easier in the rematch.
Since that game, Atlanta has lost top cornerback Desmond Trufant to injury, while the Packer secondary has been a revolving door. Now, safety Morgan Burnett is questionable to play on Sunday, which would only make life easier for Matt Ryan and the passing game against a porous D.
Both defenses are over-matched. The only way I see this game going under is if one of these teams milks the clock. Atlanta has the rushing ability to shorten the game, but they also hit the third-most big plays in the NFL this season; they can’t help but be explosive. The Packers only ran the ball 17 times last week, and they had a 15-point second-half lead! These teams will take to the air; it’s all they know.
Truth be told, I’m shocked the total hasn’t been hammered up to 62 or more by now. But the longer it stays put, the more opportunity you have to jump on it.
It’s a historically high total; make sure you’re on the right side of history. Take the over.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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