Updated on 09/16/2011 6:38AM

Home playoff teams all favorites


Odds on the NFC playoff games went up Monday morning, and the AFC games went up Tuesday. All four games look to be competitive, and the oddsmakers have them priced accordingly. The home teams are all between 2 1/2- and 4 1/2-point favorites all over town.

In Saturday's early game, the Eagles opened at the Stardust at -3 (-120, meaning you had to lay $1.20 to win $1) over the Buccaneers and were up to 3 1/2 by noon Tuesday. The total on the game was bet down from 33 to 32 1/2. In the later Saturday game, the Raiders opened as a 4-point choice over the Jets and were bet up to 4 1/2 at most books around town by noon Tuesday. The total was holding steady at 42 in early betting.

On Sunday, the Packers have been bet down from a 4- to a 3 1/2-point favorite over the 49ers with the total dropping from 40 to 39. In the final wild-card matchup, the Dolphins look like a solid 2 1/2-point choice over the Ravens with the total at 33.

Muniz snags Barley's NFL contest

When making the rounds of the race books of Las Vegas, there's one question I get asked more than any other: "What is Muggsy doing these days?"

Well, I finally have an answer to the question: He's been picking winners . . . in football.

Robert "Muggsy" Muniz, the longtime race book director at the Coast Resorts and the creator of the biggest horse handicapping tournament in the world, won first place in the season-long Gridiron Growler football handicapping contest at Barley's Brewery & Casino (no, I'm not making that up) in Henderson. For those who haven't been to the place, Barley's is a small locals hangout in the middle of a strip mall on Sunset Road. It has a small sports book (no race wagering) and its odds are part of the Station Casinos network.

Barley's runs a $200 buy-in contest in which entrants have to choose 10 NFL sides and five totals each week. A contestant named Phila Sammy was in the lead heading into last weekend's games, but Muniz went 10-5 to finish 143-112 (56.1 percent) and pass Phila Sammy, who went 6-9 and finished with a record of 140-115.

Muniz collects $5,000 for his efforts, while Phila Sammy wins $1,100. Roger Harris finished third with 139 wins and collects $740, plus another $500 bonus for having the best record (38-22) over the last four weeks.

Super comeback in SuperContest

While the Barley's prize money stays locally, the grand prize in the prestigious Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest is heading to Colorado.

The entry of Bruno's Boys, which consists of two friends from Colorado (Bruno and BK, who doesn't want his full name released), rallied to win $135,600 in the richest handicapping tournament in town. A total of 226 entrants put up $1,500 and picked five NFL sides per week.

This contest also had a leader who collapsed in the final week, and everyone near the lead had a chance to steal the title.

Tony Salinas, who won the Castaways Challenge (the forerunner to the SuperContest) 20 years ago, held a two-game lead over The Bud Man and Trushel. Bruno and BK were three games back, but were able to catch Salinas because they knew he would probably go with five underdogs in the final week. Bruno's Boys went with five favorites (Packers, Titans, 49ers, Bears, Steelers) and went 4-1 to catch Salinas, who went 1-4.

The other top contenders stumbled as The Bud Man was 0-5, Trushel was 2-3, Juss Teen was 1-4 and James Pronovich was 0-5.

Bruno's Boys and Salinas both finished with records of 51-31-3 for 52.5 contest points (pushes count for half a point), but Bruno's Boys won the tiebreaker with a better record over the final three weeks. Bruno's Boys were 10-5 down the stretch, while Salinas was 9-6. That proved to be the difference in the big payday for the winners and a $51,075 consolation prize for Salinas.

Tim Trushel, a professional handicapper with a morning radio show on KENO AM-1460, finished third with 51.5 points and would have tied for first if not for the Buccaneers' collapse on Sunday night. Trushel earned $25,537.

Fourth through 10th place collected $8,512.50 each, with 11th through 20th worth $3,405 apiece.

Fiesta contest moves to hardwood

The end of the football season usually leaves contest players out in the cold, but the Fiesta sports books in North Las Vegas and Henderson (formerly the Reserve) are filling the void with a free NBA contest on Friday nights.

Contestants will select sides and totals (all half-point lines, no ties) on up to 10 NBA games on Friday nights. Entries are limited to one per person. Cards will be available at 10 a.m. and are due by tipoff of the first game, which is typically 4 p.m.

First prize is $500, second prize is a Fiesta jacket, and third prize is dinner for two at any Fiesta restaurant. The total points in a selected game will be used as a tiebreaker.

"Our football contest was very successful and brought in a lot of bettors, and we wanted to try something different with basketball," said Bert Cirincione, race and sports book manager at the Fiesta in North Las Vegas.

* Las Vegas Sports Consultants has the Rams as the 6-5 favorite to win the Super Bowl. The Steelers are the second choice at 7-2, followed by the Bears (6-1); Packers (7-1); Raiders and Ravens (12-1); Eagles, 49ers and Patriots (15-1); Dolphins (18-1); Buccaneers (18-1); and Jets (25-1). The Patriots would appear to be the overlay at 15-1 since they only have to win three games with at least the first one coming at home.

* If you prefer to bet on one conference vs. the other to win the big game, the Imperial Palace and Station Casinos have NFC vs. AFC props. For the season, the AFC held a 31-30 straight-up edge, but the NFC was 33-24-4 against the spread. The NFC opened as a 5 1/2-point favorite at both the IP and Stations and has been bet up to 6 1/2, mostly on the popularity of the Rams. In addition, professional arbitragers have been betting the NFC, hoping to buy back the AFC team in the Super Bowl if the Rams get there and are double-digit favorites.