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Sharp bettors back side in Raiders-Bengals playoff game

The NFL’s hottest teams entering the playoffs are the Buffalo Bills and the Raiders, with both riding four-game winning streaks.

Sharp bettors are banking on Las Vegas to stay hot in Saturday’s wild-card game at Cincinnati.

The Bengals opened as 6½-point favorites before sharp money on the Raiders at +6½ and +6 caused the consensus Las Vegas line to drop to 5½.

“It’s hard to lay points with Cincinnati in a game like this. The Bengals would be happy to win by three,” Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. “There’s not motivation to go out and run up the score. They’re new to the playoffs, so they’re going to be nervous to begin with. There’s definitely going to be a feeling-out process.”

The consensus total is 49, and the Raiders pay 2-1 on the money line.

“We took a little bit of action on the Raiders on both the spread and the money line, which makes sense,” Circa Sports oddsmaker Chris Bennett said. “I don’t think the Bengals are that much better than the Raiders.”

Las Vegas has one of the NFL’s best road records since the start of last season, going 11-5 straight up away from home.

“The Raiders have played really well of late on the road,” Salmons said. “They won in Indianapolis, and they won in Dallas. Their pedigree shows they can play in these games.

“The Raiders figure to score enough points to stay within the spread.”

At Station Casinos, 57 percent of the tickets were on Las Vegas as of Friday afternoon, while the money wagered was almost even.

“It’s not a huge decision either way,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “I think we will be Bengals fans by the time the game kicks off.”

South Point and the SuperBook lowered the line after taking sharp action on the Raiders. But South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said he doesn’t agree with the move, partly because Las Vegas is in a bad situational spot.

“The Raiders have it tough,” he said. “They played an overtime game Sunday night, and now they come back to play the very first game on Saturday. Plus traveling from the West Coast to the Eastern time zone probably means a little bit.

“And the Bengals, right now, are playing really well and are a talented team. They’re going to be tough to beat.”

Cincinnati led the Raiders 16-13 with less than six minutes left before pulling away for a 32-13 win Nov. 21 at Allegiant Stadium.

The Bengals (10-7, 10-7 ATS) rested quarterback Joe Burrow and several other starters in Week 18, while Las Vegas (10-7, 8-9 ATS) went all out to beat the Chargers 35-32 in overtime.

“Given the Raiders had to play Sunday night, and they have to travel back East and play in the first game Saturday, I thought that was a disadvantage,” Salmons said. “But these guys are used to anything these days, especially with the COVID stuff. The game itself will override any of that nonsense. I think they’ll be ready to play.”

Cincinnati has lost eight straight playoff games, a streak that started with a 20-10 defeat to the then-Los Angeles Raiders in the divisional round Jan. 13, 1991.

Legendary Raiders running back Bo Jackson suffered a dislocated hip in the game and never played football again.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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