- Dave Tuley, ESPN Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS -- Saturday's two NFL divisional playoff games were won by the favorites as the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots advanced to their respective conference championship games, but they couldn't have been any different from a gambling perspective.
The Seahawks, who closed as a consensus 9-point home favorite, dominated the first half against the New Orleans Saints on the way to a 16-0 lead and looked like they would win in a rout. But the Saints rallied in the fourth quarter before falling short at 23-15, getting the back-door cover (though many bettors pushed as 8 was the most common line during the course of the week before getting bet as high as 10 at some books before closing at Seahawks minus-9). The game stayed under the total of 44.
The Patriots, who closed as a consensus 7-point favorite, also jumped out to a big lead, but the Colts kept rallying and it looked like this game would come down to the wire. However, the Patriots ran over the Colts in the second half to win 43-22, becoming the first favorite to cover so far this postseason. The game went well over the total of 51.
Underdogs went 3-0-1 ATS in the wild-card round with unders going 3-1. The split results on Saturday leave dogs still ahead at 4-1-1 ATS and unders leading 4-2 heading into Sunday's action.
I went 0-1 as the Colts plus-7.5 was my only official play on Saturday. I had leans on the Seahawks (push) and the under (win), but those don't count in the published record, though I was glad to hear from readers who won with the under or teased the Seahawks and the under.
Our look at Sunday's games is below (as posted on Thursday). As of late Saturday night, the San Francisco 49ers were a consensus 1-point road favorite at the Carolina Panthers with the Denver Broncos down to a 9-point home favorite over the San Diego Chargers. Good luck.
Saturday: 0-1 ATS | Playoffs to date: 2-1-1 ATS with Chiefs plus-2.5 | Regular season: 55-62-3 (47 percent) ATS
Note: Public Consensus Pick percentages from ESPN Insider's PickCenter as of Thursday morning.
Matchup: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
Spread: 49ers minus-1
Public consensus pick: 75 percent picked 49ers
Public perception: The line continues to drop after opening as high as 49ers minus-2.5 offshore, but the public is still mostly supporting San Fran for the second week in a row. The 49ers are still considered by many to be the best team in the NFC (with the possible exception of the Seahawks). Plus, the Panthers, despite being the NFC's No. 2 seed, haven't completely won over the public.
Wiseguys' view: There are certainly wiseguys who will be on the 49ers' side, but it's mostly been sharp money driving this line back toward pick 'em. While the 49ers are certainly worthy of respect and playing well with seven straight wins, the Panthers have won 11 of their past 12 games and beat the 49ers 10-9 in San Francisco in Week 10.
13hDoug Clawson, ESPN Stats & Information