Sportsbooks have a opening NFL Sunday to feel good about
September 12, 2017 3:12 AM
by Micah Roberts
What goes around always comes around and the boomerang effect for Las Vegas sportsbooks came flying back in their favor in Week 1 NFL action where the public struggled to cash their favorite wagers.
Last year was the worst NFL season Las Vegas had ever experienced, but they came roaring out of the gate with almost a perfect wish list of games working for the house.
“Anytime you get a popular favorite like Houston losing outright, it’s a good start for the book,” said Boyd Gaming sportsbook director Bob Scucci. “And then on top of that we get the Browns (+10) and Bears (+7) covering, it really gave us a nice early start.”
The Jaguars were getting +6 at Houston and the Texans garnered lots of support from the public, especially considering expected emotions of Hurricane Harvey that would have the Texans at their best. Jacksonville, with their own hurricane issues dealing with Irma, came strong early and never let up in a 29-7 win that paid +220 on the money-line.
The Bears came close to winning late, but settled for a 23-17 loss to the popular Falcons, who had 84 percent of all tickets written at William Hill books. Will Hill also had 75 percent of their tickets written on the Steelers, who escaped with a 21-18 win at Cleveland where Browns rookie QB DeShone Kizer (20-30-1-1- 222) looked promising. At least he gave some optimism compared to recent years of the Browns’ revolving door at QB.
“The Bears would have been the game of the day for us if they won,” said Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay, “but it still all turned out well, coupled with the Browns and Jaguars getting there.”
It was the same story all around town as the books struck back early with revenge from 2016’s awful NFL season.
“We did pretty good today,” said CG Technology VP of risk Jason Simbal. “We won our two biggest games of the day with the Browns and Bears, but we gave some of it back late with the Panthers and Packers covering.”
Most books gave a bunch back in the three afternoon games where the favorites all covered, but with so many parlays and teasers killed from the morning games the exposure wasn’t too bad.
“We needed the 49ers and we also needed the Colts while the Seahawks-Packers was evenly split, with us seeing more Seahawks parlay action but more straight wagers on the Packers,” said Wynn sportsbook director John Avello.
The Colts were originally -3 when QB Andrew Luck was supposed to play, but Westgate closed the Rams as the 4-point favorite without him and the Rams rolled to a ho-hum 46-9 win. Without Luck, these Colts look to easily be the worst team in football. Keep him in mind with every wagering equation moving forward because he’s worth 7 points to the number.
The Panthers (-5) won 23-3 at San Francisco and the Packers (-3) beat the Seahawks, 17-9, in what was the Packers’ third consecutive win and fourth consecutive cover against Seattle.
In the end, after the Cowboys’ 19-3 win against the Giants, the books still came out ahead despite being a small four-way loser with all sides in the nightcap.
The Wynn closed with the Cowboys being -6, which is about where the number should have been considering no Odell Beckham (worth half-point) and Ezekiel Elliott playing. Earlier in the week, there wasn’t much adjustment to Elliott’s worth at 1.5-points in Las Vegas when announced his suspension was reversed by a U.S. District Court judge. The reason for the slow-play was because the Giants risk was increasing throughout the past two weeks.
In 2016, it was a regular occurrence for NFL bettors to have a weekly free-roll with house money, but the tables have quickly turned to kick things off this season. The bookmakers that lost some hair while it also turned gray, and had a lot of sleepless nights last season thanks to the public piling on, can have a carefree night of sleep knowing they won the first of 17 weeks.
UNDER was the word with 10 of the 12 games staying below the total. Six of the games saw the favorites cover and four of the dogs won outright.
There wasn’t a lot unveiled for each team other than the Bengals looking awful at home in a 20-0 loss to the Ravens, and the Colts being terrible without Luck. What we did learn is perhaps the AFC is more open than ever following the Patriots’ 42-27 home loss to the Chiefs on Thursday. It’s just one game, but there were a lot of glaring weaknesses with New England that we’ve never seen before in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick regime.
“We’ve already got a lot of money on the Patriots to win the AFC and Super Bowl, so we didn’t do too much adjusting on futures with their loss,” Avello said. “One thing you learn after all these years is not to overreact after Week 1 games; of course we adjust some of the longshots if looking good, but never too much with the favorites.
Avello adjusted the Patriots from 5-to-2 to win the Super Bowl up to 3-to-1 just because the climate of public action was suggesting there was value on several other AFC teams.