PointsBet Casino Officially Live In New Jersey With 17 Games And Counting

Thanks to Thursday night’s soft launch of PointsBet Casino, Bally’s is finally joining the robust NJ online casino market.

Many NJ online gamblers know all about the PointsBet brand. Who can forget those TV commercials featuring former Philadelphia 76er Allen Iverson.

However, the Australian-based company is doubling down on the Garden State market with the launch of PointsBet Casino NJ.

The product officially went live Thursday night via a land-based partnership with Bally’s Atlantic City. The official announcement came via press release.

This is the second US jurisdiction for PointsBet Casino, with Michigan being the first.

Here in NJ, the sportsbook operates under the Meadowlands Racetrack license.

PointsBet ‘thrilled’ about NJ expansion

The company is expanding its growing, proprietary wagering product suite, which also includes a fixed-odds sportsbook as well as the operator’s unique “PointsBetting” platform.

Sam Swanell, PointsBet Group CEO and managing director, said the company is “thrilled to be able to expand our iGaming presence in the United States and bring our proprietary online casino product to the robust New Jersey market.”

“The continued growth of our iGaming presence further advances our ability to acquire and retain premium clients, complementing our existing sports wagering products,” said Swanell.

More about the PointsBet Casino app

Like PointsBet’s launch in Michigan, PointsBet is taking a soft launch approach with the rollout.

The company said there are 17 games available with more to come. Just like their sportsbook, the company owns and operates the tech. This means they can constantly improve and build out the product.

By comparison, the Michigan version of the PointsBet Casino app launched with 12 slot titles, three table games, and two versions of video poker.

PointsBet said the app will be available for download on both iOS and Android devices in about a day or so.

Like with other operators, players will be able to access the casino games via a link in the sportsbook app. A shared wallet is included.

“I am proud of our iGaming team for a successful expansion into New Jersey following what has been a tremendous introduction of our proprietary online casino product in Michigan,” said Manjit Gombra Singh, PointsBet president of product and technology. “We are excited for what the future holds and welcome the opportunity to continuously improve and expand the online casino presence at PointsBet.”

PointsBet Casino launch marks a milestone for Bally’s AC

Caesars Entertainment officially turned over the keys to Bally’s Atlantic City last fall.

However, the deal did not include any existing NJ online casinos or sportsbooks. Hence the reason for the blank space next to Bally’s on the monthly DGE revenue charts.

So being the first live skin live under the Bally’s license is a big deal. At the same time, it’s going to take much more to capture a significant slice of competitive NJ online casino market share.

PointsBet is just the first piece to Bally’s NJ online casino puzzle. The Bally Bet brand, the self-branded offering from parent company Bally’s Corp., is targeted for a 2021 launch.

So is theScore Casino. Like PointsBet, the Canadian-based company has a land-based partnership with Bally’s AC.

Each license holder is permitted to have up to five online casino skins.

No word on what brands will fill the other two slots.

So for now, Bally’s plans for earning a small taste of the NJ online casino pie are on point.

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Prediction Time: 5 New NJ Sports Betting Apps That Could Be Live For 2021 NFL Season

Here’s a look at five new NJ sports betting apps that have a realistic chance of going live sometime before or during the next NFL season.

Are you taking the over or under on 24.5 NJ sports betting apps by the time NFL betting season arrives? We know there is no such thing as half of an app, but we are taking an NFL odds approach to this prediction game.

The current count of NJ sports betting apps is 19. Even though the likes of FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and William Hill are dominating the market, the Garden State has not reached its allotted app capacity.

And it makes perfect sense why every operator out there would want a slice of the NJ sports betting pie, even it only amounts to a child’s-sized portion.

In terms of handle, other jurisdictions are having trouble keeping up with the NJ sports betting industry.  May 2021, a traditionally slower month, generated nearly $815 million in bets.

NJ Sports Betting market not done growing yet

But the interesting piece of news is the industry isn’t done growing. The Garden State market still has room for several more operators to go live before the 2021 NFL betting season kicks offs.

The big questions are who and when will this happen. Or are all these rumored launches just one giant tease?

NJ Gambling Sites may not know exactly what is taking place behind those closed doors at the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. However, we are getting a pretty good vibe that there will be 20 to 25 apps to choose from before the next Super Bowl.

For fun, here is a look at five new NJ sports betting apps (along with a few extras) that have a realistic chance of going live soon.

Soon would be sometime before or during the upcoming NFL season.

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1) Bally Bet

At this very moment, Bally’s Atlantic City does not have a horse in the NJ online market. Bally’s Corp., previously Twin River Worldwide Holdings, didn’t invest millions in the Atlantic City market just to watch neighboring properties fight over slices of the NJ sports betting pie.

So it’s pretty much a guarantee the status will be changing from pending to live by the fall, at the latest. Bally Bet is currently available in two markets, Colorado and Iowa. The app just went live in Iowa on June 29.

An August launch is looking like a realistic possibility, but we’ll play it safe and predict Garden State bettors will have access to Bally Bet by the time the Philadelphia Eagles open the 2020 NFL season against the Atlanta Falcons.

2) SuperBook

Gamblers who have visited the Las Vegas Strip for major sports betting events know SuperBook.

So it only makes sense for the company to expand operations to the nation’s No. 1 market – a title that previously belonged to the Silver State. But unlike Vegas, the company has no plans of setting up a retail sportsbook space.

SuperBook recently expanded to the Colorado market.

The mobile SuperBook app will be available for download soon here in the Garden State. The first clue is the company website that includes the words “coming soon” next to New Jersey.

Feel free to sign up for email notifications so you don’t have to wait for NJ Gambling Sites to break the news (and we won’t be offended). The SuperBook skin will fall under the Meadowlands Racetrack license, which already includes FanDuel Sportsbook and PointsBet NJ.

For those wondering about a Superbook NJ launch date, we’ll go with late summer. However, don’t rule out sooner as a possibility.

3) Barstool Sportsbook

We are well aware New Jersey Stoolies are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to place wagers via the NJ Barstool Sportsbook app.

Garden State customers can access Barstool by crossing the Pennsylvania state line, where the app is live. However, it makes more business sense to enter every legal mobile wagering market.

Barstool loves the spotlight, and New Jersey is as big as it gets in the sports betting realm. For those thinking this is just a wild guess that Barstool will finally be live in NJ this year, there is actually valid evidence that supports our theory.

First, Penn National Gaming owns half of Freehold Raceway, which currently does not offer mobile sports betting under its license (see PlayUp below). Secondly, Penn National Gaming CEO  Jay Snowden appeared on CNBC and said: “(We will) be live in New Jersey…probably by the end of May.”

Yes, it’s now July.

So this should make live by NFL season a sure bet. Right?

4) PlayUp

Rumors of a PlayUp Sportsbook launch date back to the most recent March Madness betting season. NJ Gambling Sites has heard from sources that the app is in the DGE testing lab awaiting final approval for a soft launch.

What we do know is the PlayUp skin will be operating under the Freehold Raceway license. Just like Bally’s, Freehold currently only offers retail sports betting. So joining forces with an established international brand based out of Australia should provide a small revenue boost for the license holder.

Year to date, Freehold has only generated $479,787 in NJ sports betting revenue. by comparison, nearby Monmouth Park has earned just shy of $14 million. Keep in mind Monmouth has a Willam Hill-branded retail book and three online skins.

We do know PlayUp (currently live in Colorado) has cleared a major regulatory hurdle as the company has received licensing approval from the DGE. We also know PlayUp is eyeing a piece of the NJ online casino market too, having recently announced a market access deal with Caesars Entertainment.

Unless a major problem occurs behind testing doors, we don’t see anything stopping PlayUp from getting a full NFL betting season.

5) Sporttrade

Sporttrade has a land-based partnership deal with Bally’s AC. And in a perfect world, the newest player in the NJ sports betting game would love nothing more than to have all three of its online skins available to bettors by NFL season (Bally Bet and Esports Entertainment group being the others).

While there will be some heavy lifting involved in trying to earn a small market share, something is better than nothing. Plus Bally’s is in a unique situation as a result of its ownership change.

Compared to the other names on this list, Sporttrade is one of those brands likely to get a “who are they?” response.

Sporttrade is a start-up company based out of Philadelphia. The product will be quite different from the others on this list. Forget the normal NJ sports betting approach. Here, gamblers will trade sporting events like they trade stocks.

A promising sign is the company recently announced $36 million in funding, a sign that Wall Street sees Sporttrade’s potential.

In terms of going live, Sporttrade is targeting the second half of 2021 as a launch date, pending regulatory approval.

 Other NJ sports betting apps to watch

Consider the five NJ sports betting apps mentioned above the favorites. However, there are other brands in various phases of the regulatory process, so we shouldn’t count them out.

The previously mentioned Esports Entertainment Group learned during the spring that the DGE accepted its application to be a licensed gambling operator in NJ. So a late summer or fall launch is a realistic possibility.

The Carousel Group, the company behind SportsBetting.com, has a  market access deal with Caesars Entertainment. However, if and when the app goes live in NJ, it will be known as the rebranded MaximBet. The reason this brand is making the cut is simple: New Jersey has always been at the top of its list.

Finally, there is Betway Sportsbook, the well-known European operator. While there has been little news regarding its NJ sports betting plans, just last week the app launched in neighboring Pennsylvania. So it would make sense that New Jersey would be included among the coming soon states.

The only thing left to do is sit back and wait. September will be here before we know it.

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Time For A Standing Ovation: Ocean Casino Resort Announces Return Of Live Entertainment

Ocean Casino Resort is bringing back live entertainment at Ovation Hall again, starting with Loverboy and Brian McKnight July 4th weekend.

With New Jersey is easing up on its COVID-19 restrictions, it was only going to be a matter of time before Atlantic City casinos would start making additional announcements.

Sure enough, Ocean Casino Resort sent out a press release earlier today announcing some pretty big news: Live entertainment is returning to Ovation Hall.

As far as who will be performing, here are some of the names:

  • Brian McKnight, July 3
  • Summer of Love, various dates starting July 9
  • Morris Day & The Time, Aug. 14
  • Jeff Dunham, Aug. 21
  • Melissa Etheridge, Sep. 4
  • Alice Cooper, Sept. 17

“We are elated to bring back such an acclaimed group of headlining performers to Ovation Hall for our customers to enjoy,” said Terry Glebocki, Chief Executive Officer for Ocean Casino Resort. “Entertainment is one of Ocean’s core foundations, and as restrictions ease and we are able to open up more of our property, the return of live music and comedy serves to bolster our premier resort experience.”

Live concerts big change for Ocean

Ovation Hall has a seating capacity of over 5,000 people. Unfortunately, as a result of the global pandemic, the venue has been rather quiet and empty.

Remember, all nine AC casinos were closed for 100-plus days in 2020. And when they did reopen prior to the Fourth of July weekend, entertainment venues remained closed.

And up until now, nothing much changed. Sure there have been performers at restaurants and lounges, but it’s not the same.

Ovation Hall will continue hosting the Pro Fighters League regular season. Ocean Casino Resort is serving as the bubble (like Walt Disney World did for the NBA)

The next event will take place on June 10. However, fans have not been permitted to attend the fights.

Following CDC Guidelines

Like has been the case with the casino floor and restaurants, Ocean will continue following guidelines set by local health officials, the CDC, and state authorities.

This includes:

  • Mask requirements
  • Thermal screening
  • Hand sanitizing stations
  • Physical distancing

The Ocean team is encouraging advanced ticket reservations to “help comply with capacity restrictions and to maximize contactless ticket scanning.”

Other Atlantic City entertainment news

While Ocean’s announcement is considered pretty big news, they are not the first AC property to welcome back live entertainment. Hard Rock Atlantic City hosted a holiday show inside of the Sound Waves venue.

The property is now back in the comedy show business. Comedian Andrew Santino is next up with two shows on May 30.

However, bigger names are coming. Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys is performing on Aug. 6. Tickets go on sale Friday.

Borgata has no plans of spending another summer waiting as tickets are available for:

  • Jim Breuer, July 16
  • Mandy Moore, July 18
  • Dave Attell & Jeff Ross, July 31
  • John Legend, Aug. 21

Call this the start of what is shaping up to be a very busy summer in Atlantic City.

AP Photo/Wayne Parry 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slot Machines Turned Back On At The Stardust Casino, NJ Online Version

FanDuel Group sees the Stardust Casino app as a means to tap into a meaningful segment of the NJ online casino market.

Who remembers when the Stardust Casino was imploded on March 13, 2007?

And when the building came crashing down on the Las Vegas Strip, it seemed like the Stardust name was gone with it.

Well, here we are in 2021, and guess what name is back in business?

OK. An NJ online casino app doesn’t exactly measure up with a Las Vegas casino resort, but nostalgia is nostalgia.

Stardust Casino is the rebranded version of the former Betfair casino. The product is a joint venture between FanDuel Group and Boyd Gaming Corporation. And it’s available in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets, officially launching on April 19.

And like with Betfair, it falls under the Golden Nugget Online Gaming license.

To get a better idea of what the product is all about and how things are going so far, NJ Gambling Sites caught up with Jesse Chemtob, GM of casino at FanDuel Group.

Farewell Betfair, hello Stardust

Those who keep track of NJ online casino apps are aware the Betfair brand is one of the originals, launching in 2013.

However, it has a bigger following overseas than here in the United States.

As far as Stardust goes, it’s really too early to accurately judge how well it’s performing in the mature Garden State market. However, Chemtob said overall the feedback has been pretty positive.

He noted they knew going in there would be a segment of the casino audience that would have some recognition with the Stardust brand.

“… Going in, like with any rebrand, there’s a kind of risk that people are confused, but by all accounts, the rebrand for us went pretty smoothly,” said Chemtob. “Users kind of woke up on the day of the rebrand and they were able to update their Betfair app to a Stardust branded app. It was pretty seamless from that perspective.”

Instead of surprising existing Betfair customers, the FanDuel team took the change-is-coming approach. Communicating with the customer base about the rebrand was a big part of it.

And the login credentials customers used for Betfair are still good with the Stardust brand.

“… By all accounts, it’s been pretty smooth, and feedback has been pretty positive. Just anecdotally we’ve been getting feedback from customers that they like the new look and feel, and the different front end of the casino experience. We’re pretty pleased, to be honest,” said Chemtob.

Stardust users based in New Jersey currently can choose from more than 400 games.

The FanDuel-Boyd-Stardust connection

So those familiar with Las Vegas history know the Stardust is a former Boyd Gaming property.

Plus, FanDuel and Boyd have an existing relationship. Boyd also owns Valley Forge Casino Resort, which is home to a FanDuel Sportsbook.

FanDuel Casino is connected to the same land-based partnership.

Call the Stardust Casino the latest phase to this “great partnership with Boyd.”

“…We have this relationship with them and we really looked at, Stardust as a means to be able to tap into a meaningful segment of the casino market, aside from just the sports-led casino players,” said Chemtob. “And that’s really what drove the decision around Stardust and how we landed on that with Boyd. It’s really a means to be able to tap into a wider casino customer base.”

Co-existence of FanDuel and Stardust casinos

Like Pennsylvania, New Jersey customers have access to two different casino brands under the FanDuel Group umbrella.

FanDuel Sportsbook mobile customers who click on the casino icon are transferred to FanDuel Casino. However, desktop/web browser users are sent to Stardust.

In the Garden State, even the FanDuel Casino option is still fairly new as the change happened earlier this year. Previously, slots and table game players would be sent to Betfair.

So for those wondering if one casino is more popular than the other, FanDuel Group views the situation from a different perspective. Chemtob said, “We look at them as co-existing with somewhat distinct customer bases.”

On one side there is the FanDuel casino that is “more cross-sell driven, will be more male-skewing, and kind of look more similar to the composition of the sportsbook customer base. More male-skewing, maybe a bit younger.”

However, Stardust users, at least since the rebrand, are both male and female.

“When you look at the Stardust customer base, previously the Betfair customer base, it was a bit more balanced in terms of the male, female split, and skewed a bit older than the cross-sell audience,” said  Chemtob.

“… For the cross-sell audience, it’s more table games led, given the male skew. And Stardust it’s more slots led given the mix of male-female. We think there are two distinct audiences there that are worth going after.”

Bringing Las Vegas nostalgia back to life

In the NJ online casino world, the Stardust name is still the newbie. And the industry is an extremely competitive one with heavyweights like Golden Nugget online casino and BetMGM leading the way.

However, there are some Garden State customers extremely familiar with the Stardust name. This is especially true for those fond of old Las Vegas nostalgia.

The property, which opened in 1958, enjoyed nearly a 50-year run on the North end of the Las Vegas Strip. The land where it once stood is where Resorts World Las Vegas is opening next month.

So as a result of this rich history, the Stardust online casino is in a different category than say an online operator entering the market from Europe.

Chemtob explains:

“Obviously, we’re not starting from zero because there is some brand recognition with Stardust, which is a good thing. But we are starting from a place where we need to build up that brand affinity in New Jersey for the Stardust brand, amongst this wider casino consumer.”

And for those players unfamiliar with the classic Stardust name, the plan is to build awareness and comfortability.

“… Obviously there’s a lot of competition now, but I don’t think the strategy is dissimilar. We just have a bit more to talk about in terms of the brand equity of Stardust, and this nostalgia element of old Las Vegas that we think really resonates with people,” said Chemtob.

Stardust sticking with NJ and PA, for now

Unlike online sports betting, the US is still rather limited when it comes to online casino markets. Besides NJ and PA,  Michigan is the newcomer while West Virginia has limited offerings.

Of course, there is the possibility more states could pass legislation down the road, potentially opening the door for Stardust to build a bigger following.

FanDuel is live in Michigan, but the company has no plans to roll out the Stardust app there.

“Right now, we’re not considering a separate stand-alone brand approach in Michigan. But in future states, we’re going to see how it goes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” said Chemtob.

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Boom With A View: Caesars AC Offering Packages To Watch Trump Plaza Implosion

Would you pay $299 for a front and center seat to watch the Feb. 17 implosion of the former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino?

But unlike a pro sporting event, you will not be told to leave immediately after the hotel tower transforms into a pile of rubble.

You see, the price is actually for Caesars Atlantic City’s stay-and-view room package.

Talk about a great view.

The two properties are so close you could jump from one rooftop to the other. Figuratively speaking, of course. The buildings are separated by a Boardwalk access ramp.

Steve Callender, Regional President Caesars Entertainment, weighed in on next week’s historic occasion.

“The proximity of Caesars to the implosion site is the closest most will get to the historic milestone in Atlantic City next week, and we’ve had high demand from guests who are seeking to book rooms & suites with a front row seat to the action,”

“We are releasing a limited number of stay-and-view room packages that offer our guests the opportunity to witness the beginning of a new era for Center Boardwalk and a new view of the Atlantic City skyline.”

Details of Caesars stay-and-view package

Yes, some might consider $299 plus tax a little pricey for an Atlantic City hotel room. We are talking about midweek in February.

However, Feb. 17 will be rather unique as Trump Plaza, which sits at the center of the Boardwalk, has been closed since 2014. So guests will be getting a front row seat, or in this case, a hotel room, to watch Atlantic City history.

As of Friday afternoon, Caesars AC had 27 rooms available specifically for the stay-and-view rate.

Here is what the package includes:

  • A front seat with “exclusive view” to Atlantic City history
  • Champagne delivery
  • 1 p.m. checkout

So making early morning mimosas for the implosion is an option.

Bader Field, which is the public viewing area, will be charging $10 a car. Plus. it’s about two miles away and outside.

Trump Plaza implosion will boost mid-week business

The early Atlantic City forecast for Feb. 17  is 36 degrees and partly cloudy.

Not exactly ideal for taking a walk on the AC Boardwalk or the beach. And besides properties operating at 35% capacity due to the pandemic, it is offseason.

However, was far as Atlantic City implosions go, Trump Plaza will be only the second property to see its fate end with a boom.

Sands Atlantic City, way back in 2007, was the other. And that property has been vacant since.

AP Photo/Wayne Parry

Football Five: Doug Pederson’s Odds On Becoming Jets Next Coach

Since being fired as head coach of the Eagles earlier this week, Doug Pederson has become part of a futures wager at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is a now prop bet.

Only in the NJ sports betting world can a fired head coach spark betting. Pederson, canned by the Eagles one day and a futures wager  the next, headlines our weekly Football Five.

New Jersey online sports bettors love the rumor mill, especially when it is actionable.

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Who will coach the Eagles? Look at the Jets first

Where the Jets go will influence where the Eagles direct their efforts.

Following his firing, Pederson became the frontrunner (+300) for the Jets job at FanDuel Sportsbook. As of early Wednesday morning, his odds shifted to +650 as San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh moved into the top spot (+100).

Here is a look at the FanDuel odds on the next Jets head coach as of Tuesday.

If Pederson gains that position, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll (+850) and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (+850) become available for Philadelphia. Both were the early favorites for the Jets job.

Other notable rumors for the Eagles include Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Tampa Bay Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and  Saleh, a name worth a long look.

Saleh, a defensive coordinator, has already become a finalist for the Jets job. It’s only been a question of when, not if, he becomes a head coach. The Jets may be a more natural fit for him, but the Eagles could use someone to light a fire under the entire team.

Bieniemy, the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs, is another assistant likely to land a head-coaching position. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie likes Andy Reid’s input, that’s how he got Pederson in the first place, so Bieniemy makes sense. But other teams want him as well.

Then there is Bowles. Remember him?

He had three straight losing seasons with the Jets. How crazy would it be for the Eagles to select the former Jets coach and the Jets to recycle Pederson? Can’t find a prop for that.

Bowles also was the secondary coach for the Birds in 2012.

Eagles will likely interview Duce Staley, too

There’s a common denominator with the candidates. Philadelphia’s long-term contract with quarterback Carson Wentz is a lasso around the neck of whomever takes the job. The Eagles are committed to Wentz and the new coach will experience friction if he wants to bench Wentz at some point.

The successful candidate must be on board with Wentz, who regressed badly this past season but was also left vulnerable by a weak offensive line. What the odds can’t tell you is what candidate will accept this stipulation.

Expect Duce Staley’s name to be included on the list of interview candidates. The former Eagles player served as assistant head coach and running backs coach under Pederson.

Stay tuned. Rumors, and odds, change often.

What about the NFL Divisional Playoff odds?

The NFL Playoffs resume Saturday and Sunday with the final eight teams competing in the divisional round. Here is the weekend slate:

Early splits from DraftKings Sportsbook show the public loves all four “overs,” with the Cleveland-Kansas City game getting the highest endorsement 89%, even at the highest total, 56.5.

Early betting saw the public loving Green Bay the most. Here’s the support level:

  • Green Bay 84%
  • Buffalo 61%
  • Kansas City 60%
  • Tampa Bay 59%

Rams are the NFL chameleons

They do the unexpected.

The Los Angeles Rams flopped as a 17-point favorite and became the first team the Jets beat this year. And then they toppled the Seattle Seahawks, who had beaten the Jets by 37 points, in the Wild Card round.

Just to reach the postseason they defeated the Arizona Cardinals behind backup quarterback John Wolford.

The Rams defense turned that game around with a late first-half defensive score.

And they repeated the feat against the Seahawks. A Pick 6 put Seattle up 13-3 and Jared Goff, who had to replace the injured Wolford, gutted out an efficient performance.

Can the Rams do it again?

They face Aaron Rodgers, enjoying the best year of his life with 48 touchdowns versus five interceptions. The Rams want ball control, the Packers a track meet.

Weather is always a big variable in cold-weather cities. The forecast for this game is under 30 degrees, with winds at less than 10 mph. May feel like 20 degrees. For the Rams, it could have been worse.

Bills and Ravens look good on either side

The Bills opened at -1.5 across the major NJ online sportsbooks and early Buffalo wagering pushed the line up to -2.5. This is still a nice place to bet either team. Ravens bettors may click their heels if the line hits -3. Even the move from -1.5 to -2.5 might make it worth their while to buy the extra point, taking a +3 line.

Lamar Jackson is one key to the game.

The Ravens quarterback rushed for 136 yards in the team’s opening-round triumph over the Tennessee Titans. He also helped rally the team from a 10-0 early deficit.

In avenging the playoff loss to the Titans from last year, the Ravens continued to look formidable.

Buffalo’s defense gave up 472 yards in a narrow victory over the Indianapolis Colts, who crossed the 50-yard line on nine of their 10 possessions and averaged more than six yards per play.

Baltimore’s defense, on the other hand,  has stepped up dramatically and is the biggest wild card in this matchup. How about holding the Cincinnati Bengals to three points and then putting a handcuff on Derrick Henry and the Titans? Henry was coming off a 200-plus yard game and the Ravens kept him to 40.

In this game, Buffalo’s offensive line looks to protect Josh Allen enough for him to launch downfield throws to Stefon Diggs and to scramble. Buffalo does not rely on its running game the way Tennessee did.

All ‘Bs’: Brady + Brees = bets

You have to love the marquee. Tom Brady’s best work of the season has come in the last five games, in which the Tampa Bay offensive line has given him tremendous time to throw.  Brady has more receiving targets than Drew Brees does for the New Orleans Saints.

It’s been the same pregame script every time these teams met this year.  Brady was supposed to lead the Bucs over the Saints, and New Orleans beat him in the opener. Brady was rolling before the rematch and the Bucs, at -5, were never in it.

And here we go again.

Can the Saints beat the Bucs three times in one year? They will need a big game from Alvin Kamara and Brees will have to throw deep once in a while to keep  the defense honest.

Will Super Bowl champs stop the Cleveland Browns party?

It’s been great for Cleveland Browns fans, who watched their team topple the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in eight days. But now they visit the defending Super Bowl champions, who lost only one game this year.

The Browns optimist believes the team’s momentum from the Pittsburgh triumph snowballs into another upset. Cleveland backers bank on the usual stellar effort from Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The subplot will be whether Kansas City should have kept Hunt, who broke in with them.

The Chiefs backer believes they won’t commit the mistakes that brought Cleveland that early 28-0 lead against the Steelers and that the Chiefs won’t be rusty despite the offense resting in the last regular season game.

A shootout is expected and the Chiefs, on paper, have a little more ammunition in their gun.

AP Photo/Michael Perez