Las Vegas sports books had six games they needed to beat down in Sunday’s NFL Week 13 action. In order for a successful day, they would need to knock down half.
To their delight they managed to get five go their way which helped every book have a winning day.
“San Diego winning was huge for us,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook executive director Jay Kornegay. “And then we also got the bonus of having Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta win or cover. The only game that really hurt us was the Texans.”
Only five underdogs covered among the 12 games on Sunday, but they turned out to be the right ones for the books.
“The Texans, Colts and Rams burned us a little, but the Chargers and Saints kind of killed any momentum on the parlays going into the late games,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne.
“And then with only two afternoon games, we could have been taken out if the Cardinals covered because action on the Packers-Patriots game was kind of split — with a little more to the New England side — but when the Falcons beat Arizona, it made our day,” he said.
Having only two afternoon games can be a tough scenario for the books because all the bettors’ money is funneled into just those two instead of spread around several different options.
In the case of the Cardinals game, the action was almost like an isolated Prime Time game and mostly on Arizona, who the bettors have been riding recently covering eight of their 11 games.
The Cardinals were 2.5-point road favorites most of the week, but some larger money came on Atlanta prior to kickoff dropping the number to -1 at a few books. Atlanta jumped out 17-0 in the first quarter and coasted to a 29-18 win and raise its record to 5-7 and stay tied for first place in the NFC South.
The Steelers closed as 3.5-point home favorites against the Saints and, after bettors had watched New Orleans lose their last three games (all at home), they wanted nothing to do with New Orleans.
Meanwhile Pittsburgh had won four of five at home with an average score of 35-26 with all five going OVER. The Steelers to the OVER (54.5) combination was the popular play. The OVER got there easy, but it was the Saints who came away with the 35-32 win, a score that is much closer than the game actually was. The Saints, now 5-7, remain tied with Atlanta for the NFC South lead.
One of the more one-sided bets of the day was the New York Giants laying -3 at Jacksonville against a Jaguars squad that had covered only twice all season. Everything was going as planned as the Giants jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but things unraveled quickly in the second half.
A Josh Scobee field goal in the final minute gave Jacksonville a 25-24 win, a Giants loss the New York papers have dubbed as “The final nail in the Coughlin’.
The other big game for the books was Tampa Bay hanging in at home against Cincinnati. The Bengals opened as 3.5-point favorites and were pushed to -6 on game day. Sharp money liked Cincy as did the parlay bettors, but the Bucs got the money in a 14-13 loss.
With so many of the popular parlay teams failing to cover, there wasn’t much carryover risk going into the Broncos-Chiefs game, although there was plenty of Denver money.
“The Broncos game turned out to be a loser for us, our second worst decision of the day,” said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback on the Broncos 29-16 road win. “The positive is that there wasn’t too much leftover from the four-day weekend going into that game and it also benefited us that it stayed UNDER the total (50).”
Stoneback says their books won on all four days during the Thanksgiving weekend and they didn’t have any extended jeopardy heading into Monday night’s game between the Jets and Dolphins. All their action so far has been on the Dolphins.
“We’ve got a couple $30,000 bets on the Dolphins, and the ticket counts have the Dolphins at 8-to-1, but it’s all small money. It’s not a disaster if the Dolphins win and most of that is because of nothing left over from the weekend.”
Countdown to Final Four: College basketball can now have full control of the Las Vegas sports books board as space has been freed up with only 14 college football games are on the schedule this week featuring seven conference championship games. Four will be pivotal to who is voted in by the playoff committee as being the final four teams to make the first college football playoffs.
The big dilemma voters in the committee will have on Sunday night is what to do with the fourth slot. Let’s just assume Alabama beats Missouri, Oregon exacts revenge on Arizona and Florida State handles Georgia Tech. Those three should be safe and gain entry, but what about TCU, Baylor and Ohio State if they win on Saturday?
No. 5 TCU is a 33-point home favorite over Iowa State and the win wouldn’t exactly be a boost to their resume, but they’re currently ahead of both No. 6 Ohio State and No. 7 Baylor. However, TCU lost at Baylor, 61-58, in October. If both are one-loss teams and the Big-12 doesn’t have a championship game, shouldn’t the head-to-head win matter more than a ranking?
Baylor can get themselves some bonus points be beating a quality opponent like No. 12 Kansas State on Saturday. Baylor QB Bryce Petty had a concussion on Saturday against Texas Tech and is questionable this week and no line is posted on the game, but let’s just call Baylor -12 with him in. If Baylor can win the game, it should count for more than TCU’s win over Iowa State.
Then there’s the Buckeyes who should be able leapfrog both TCU and Baylor if they’re able to beat No. 14 Wisconsin in Saturday night’s Big-10 Championship game. Ohio State would have been about a 2-point favorite if QB J.T. Barrett didn’t break his ankle against Michigan, but now Wisconsin is -4 with the Buckeyes using third-string QB Cardale Jones this week.
If Ohio State wins, and that’s a big if, does the committee downgrade Ohio State because of not having Barrett, who was the backup to Braxton Miller? Right or wrong, I think they will.
The bottom line is that Ohio State is not as good without Barrett. The committee doesn’t use Vegas ratings as a measure (they should), but part of the Vegas rating system is based on who is playing. Ohio State is 6-points worse to the spread without Barrett, and if that‘s true, that means there are 18 college football teams that would be favored over Ohio State on a neutral field, or are considered better.
Hopefully, Baylor wins in a blowout, TCU struggles and Baylor gets the nod as the fourth and final team with little criticism from the media. While we can debate all day long who should be the fourth and final team among the three quality candidates, one thing we can all agree on is that this four-team playoff was long overdue and it’s going to be some serious fun.
Mariners odds drop: Seattle signed OF Nelson Cruz to a four-year $57 million deal on Monday and the affect was felt here in Las Vegas on the odds board. MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback, a Seattle native, was thrilled with the Cruz signing and dropped the Mariners futures considerably.
“We were already a loser with the Mariners in our futures, but getting his bat in the lineup to help Cano makes them immensely better. They went down to the wire last season and this could be the winning move. We had Seattle at 18-to-1 to win the World Series and dropped them down to 10-to-1.”
With Oakland looking as though they’ve dropped significantly after trading its best hitter Josh Donaldson to Toronto, the Mariners look to be one of the favorites to make the playoffs by either winning the West or getting a wild card behind the Angels.
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].