For the first time in eight NFL Sundays this season, the bettors finally had their day. And when I say bettors, I mean Joe Public, the guy who religiously plays his $20 to $50 a week with four and five team parlays.
For the first seven weeks, the public teams weren’t cooperating, with even some of the best teams like the Broncos going into a tailspin against the number.
But on Sunday, that all changed. It was as if the betting gods had aligned the stars perfectly for the public teams to all cover simultaneously on this one day, and in the process it sent the Las Vegas sports books to their worst NFL Sunday of the season.
The big blow came when the Packers blew out the Vikings, 44-31, on Sunday night. It didn’t matter that sharp money had pushed the Vikings from 10-point home underdogs to +7 by kickoff, the public somehow knew the Packers offense would put up the type of score they did, as they bet the OVER (47.5) feverishly as well.
“The public teams came through today,” said Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick. “They had the 49ers, Broncos, Saints, Patriots and even the Bengals all come in early for them (before the Packers decision), not only with parlays (off the board), and parlay cards, but also with teasers.”
When all those parlays added up paying 10-to-1, 20-to-1, 40-to-1 and higher, all most books could do was feel fortunate that at least they had beat up the sharp money, and the sharps took a beating as most of the line movement from the week attests.
“There wasn’t any one big decision that stood out, other than the Packers game,” said LVH Super Book vice-president Jay Kornegay, “but the public went 7-1 against us. All the big parlay games hit for them. We’re talking about just about every division leader covering the spread.”
Yes, it was apparently as easy as just looking at the NFL standings and taking the team leading their division. And while the Cowboys still lead the NFC East with a 4-4 record after their 31-30 loss at Detroit, they covered +3 and are now 7-1 against-the-spread this season, which is another stat Joe Public always likes to reference.
The Broncos hadn’t covered in three weeks and came off their first loss at Indianapolis the week before. The opening number of -13.5 was definitely inflated, and Redskins money bet it down to 12.5. Again, the public didn’t care and bet the Broncos and OVER, paying out at 13-to-5 odds and even higher when they linked some of their other winners into the mix.
The total in the Broncos game was also the source to many of the big parlay jackpots hitting in the first two waves of games Sunday.
“The two totals that really hurt us were the Cowboys-Lions and Broncos-Redskins games going OVER,” said McCormick. “We just got buried on them, especially the Broncos game. We had gone from 58.5 to 60, and they were still betting the OVER.”
The Cowboys total went from 51 to 52.5 by kickoff, and for three quarters, with Dallas up 13-7, it looked like the bettors would be on the losing side. But then the two teams went into a furious pace in the fourth quarter, scoring 41 points and sending the game way OVER.
The same thing occurred in Denver where the sharps looked right as the Redskins played the Broncos tough to a 7-7 tie at halftime. Washington even outscored the Broncos 14-7 in the third quarter. That‘s only 35 total points through three with a miracle needed to go OVER, and they got it. Denver put up 31 points by themselves, and got the easy OVER.
A bad day for the books could have been much worse if it wasn’t for a few teams that did actually help them out, which eliminated a few combinations to avoid the massive payouts where streams of 8-team and 10-team parlays might have cashed in otherwise.
“We did well with only two of the games on the day,” said McCormick. “The Browns keeping it close at Kansas City was big for us, as well as the Cardinals covering against the Falcons.”
A day like this was bound to happen because they always do. Last November was a disaster for the sports books that saw them lose more on one Sunday due to parlays than they ever had on any day in state history. And after getting beat up for seven weeks, it was their turn, right?
“Hold on now,” Kornegay said trying to set the record straight. “We had been doing well on Sundays, but on the isolated games (Thursday and Monday nights), we’ve been getting killed, and the risk on those games sometimes outweighs what we’ve won on those Sundays. Really, I think we’re like 1-6 on Monday night games this season.”
Kornegay isn’t looking for sympathy, and knows no one will give him any, but the LVH, like every other book in the city, was holding their breath on Monday night hoping the Seahawks didn’t win by 13 points at St. Louis. A bad Sunday never ends on Sunday. It carries over into Monday, and the risk almost always goes to the favorite.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].