We excitedly get to report that the Las Vegas Sports Books didn’t pound the bettors into submission for the sixth consecutive week of the NFL season; unfortunately, we don‘t get to report that the bettors broke the bank. Week six of the NFL was mostly a wash. It was a draw, like kissing your sister, for all involved as the favorites went 6-5-2 against the spread.
Because of the first five weeks of uncertainty, what should have been a strong day for the players turned out to be a push. Anytime all the favorites win, or tie, in the late games, it’s bound to be a bettor’s day. But that wasn’t the case in week six. Because underdogs have been so prevalent thus far, it has bettors tweaking their strategies and thinking long and hard about laying points. Had this week happened last year, bettors would have cashed in mightily.
Up and down the entire rotation of Sunday’s games there wasn’t an overwhelming choice in weighted percentage by the bettors. The Falcons, Steelers, Bears and Colts stood out the most with public opinion, but it wasn’t the same type of action that is normally seen. Instead of being in the 70% to 80% range, these games were preferred by only 60% of the betting public. When there’s two way action, it’s hard for the sports books not to win.
The only thing that kept the sports books from winning big was the three team favorite parlays hitting from the 1 p.m. games (Jets, 49ers and Vikings). Had just one of the underdogs covered, it would have been a good day for the books.
We only saw three outright underdog winners last week. The Rams showed they’re a very good football team worthy of the respect given to them by beating the Chargers as 8-point dogs. The Seahawks showed that they can win on the road by winning at Chicago in a very good all around performance. Then we had the Dolphins winning at Lambeau Field in overtime giving the Packers two overtime losses in consecutive weeks.
The Packers’ game was somewhat of a mystery regarding the line. Many sports books didn’t post a line until Friday when it was certain that Aaron Rodgers would be starting after two days of practicing and being cleared from a minor concussion. The early Hilton line had the Packers -6½, but everyone opened the game -3 on Friday. Lucky’s sports books had been adjusting the line as information came throughout the week and went from -4 ½ to -3.
Green Bay’s biggest injury loss of the week was not having NFL sack leader Clay Matthews in the game. A defensive player rarely comes into the point spread value, but it was apparent that without Matthews, the Packers weren’t the same team defensively as they recorded no sacks against a Dolphins team that threw the ball 39 times.
The Packers play Minnesota this week and Matthews should be a key part of any equation if looking to play the game. The Vikings were fortunate to be playing against the undisciplined Wade Phillips led Cowboys last week. Dallas committed 11 penalties in the game leading to the loss and sent the Cowboys to a 1-4 record on the season.
Bettors who took the Lions should be grateful to the leg of Jason Hanson who helped the 10-point underdogs back-door the Giants. Hanson’s second 50 yard field goal of the day shrunk the Giants lead to 28-20 and got the cover.
Steelers backers rejoiced when the Browns kept calling timeouts late forcing Pittsburgh, favored by 13, to score in a game that was then 21-10. The Steelers did, and got the biggest spread of the day home for bettors. Even though the Browns only put up 10 points, Cleveland fans should be proud of the way rookie quarterback Colt McCoy held his own in his NFL debut against the league’s best defense.
Even though the Chiefs lost – but covered – 35-31 to the Texans, I think it set in with bettors that the Chiefs are definitely for real and a solid playoff candidate. Watching Mike Vrabel catch a touchdown pass from Matt Cassel in a play called by Charlie Weis, you couldn’t help but think the Patriots’ influence and winning attitude has transferred over nicely and helped elevate the Chiefs to a new plateau.
The Saints should gain more of a following this week after watching their offense hit on all cylinders at Tampa Bay. Bettors jumped off the bandwagon after not covering all year, but things look good again as New Orleans was able to run the ball affectively with Chris Ivory. The culprit of the Saints’ struggles hasn’t been the absence of Reggie Bush, but rather the solid ground game of Pierre Thomas.
So who are the bad teams in the parity driven NFL right now? Buffalo and Carolina had bye weeks, but they are the leaders. After that, the list gets small. Watching the Raiders get only 179 yards of offense Sunday at San Francisco with Jason Campbell throwing a paltry 83 yards gave everyone visions of a JaMarcus Russell-led team. Outside of those three, you could make a strong argument that every other team could beat anyone on any given Sunday.
Pick The Pros Contest Success
I was looking at the Week 5 results from Coast Casinos weekly Pick the Pros contest over at Sam’s Town and was amazed to see the winner went 14-0, a week that saw nine underdogs win outright with four of them being pretty big upsets. I know free contests have thousands of entrants across the valley, but who could actually say with a straight face that they liked all those teams to win with no points.
I went upstairs to the little cove bar and had a few of their $1 beers and started talking football with another guy who plays in the contest who later informs me that his friend was the person who won the $30,000 all alone in week 5. He revealed the secret to his friend’s amazing success for the week, which turns out to be a matter of just good fortune and luck, lottery style.
The new convenient contest kiosks that Coast Casinos introduced this year have a quick pick option. This player keyed the Bears and the Monday night favorite on all his entries and then quick picked the rest of the games. He liked the Bears over the Panthers on all of them and also wanted to have the Monday hedge option with the favorite so he could bet the money line on the underdog Monday should he go 13-0 on Sunday.
His strategy worked to perfection as only three cards were perfect going into Monday night’s game. The other two perfect cards had the underdog Vikings while he had the favored Jets. Knowing that if the Jets won he would win the entire $30,000, he placed $7,000 in money line bets on the Vikings at +190 to ensure he made some money regardless of who won. His net profit after the Jets game was +$23,000, not bad for only handicapping one game.
His strategy of only picking Monday night favorites in the no points contest should be followed by everyone just because it keeps your hedge options more open at getting plus money rather than laying a price. Quick picking every pick is another matter, but in the year of the upsets, it’s probably not a bad idea.