The surest way for the sportsbooks to ensure a winning NFL Sunday is to have one of the biggest favorites lose outright. In Week 13 action, they got two of them gift wrapped for an early Christmas present.
“The Patriots losing turned out to be our best game of the day,” said South Point sportsbook director Bert Osborne. “We had given back a lot on the Eagles money-line just to balance out some of the teaser money we had extended on the Patriots, but it still turned out to be our best decision.”
The Eagles actually looked like the team we all thought they were during the preseason with its impressive 35-28 win at New England, a score that really wasn’t that close. Tom Brady and the Patriots offense continue to show the effects of not having all their key starters available. On Sunday, both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman were out.
The Patriots have now failed to cover its past four games, which not so ironically started with the Giants game Edelman got hurt in. Coupled with last Sunday’s loss at Denver, Sunday’s loss was the Patriots first of the back-to-back nature since 2012.
“After that,” Osborne continued, “the next best game was in the morning with the 49ers beating the Bears, who were one of the most popular teams with parlays.“
The 49ers’ improbable 26-20 win at Chicago was led by Blaine Gabbert, showing everyone he has all kinds of athletic skills and can lead a team to victory just like he did with such regularity in college. Gabbert had been labeled as the worst back-up in the league, but he came up with his best NFL performance that included a 44-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter to tie it up 20-20, and then in overtime he threw a beautiful deep ball down the left sideline to Torrey Smith that covered 71-yards for the game winning TD.
With two of the biggest underdogs cashing and killing off a large chunk of the parlay and teaser risk and then also getting the Saints to cover 6-points at home against new public favorite Carolina, you might think the books had one of their better weekends, but that wasn’t the case.
“It was just an average NFL Sunday,” said Osborne. “We won a few and lost a few, but none of the decisions were really that big.”
The public was able to hold their ground and gain some traction themselves off several winning sides that included extended parlay risk left over from Saturday’s college football.
“The public was able to cash with their Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks and Cardinals tickets,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “We were cashing lots of parlay winners that had Green Bay from Thursday tied to some of Sunday’s games, as well as Alabama, Stanford and Clemson on Saturday.”
The Chiefs poured it on at Oakland with 20 unanswered points to cover the 3-point spread making it their fifth straight cover. The Brock Osweiler era is now 3-0 with the Broncos winning 17-3 at lowly San Diego, easily covering the 6-point spread.
The Chargers have failed to cover its last nine games against AFC West teams – they play at Kansas City this week. The Seahawks’ 38-7 win at Minnesota was its fifth win in six games and Minnesota’s loss dropped them out of first place in the NFC Central. After two straight non-covers, Arizona got back in the good graces of their betting public by winning 27-3 at St. Louis, which was the Cardinals sixth straight win.
Usually after all the dust has settled from the first two waves of Sunday games there’s a big risk attached to the Sunday night game where a losing day can be compounded severely or a winning day can have all that money given right back to bettors. But this week it was different with Steelers at home against Indianapolis.
“Very small risk,” said McCormick. “We didn’t have the game on the parlay cards because of the late opening line due to Ben Roethlisberger’s status.”
The parlay card numbers are made on Wednesday, which are then sent to the printers and delivered to the books on Thursday mornings. Roethlisberger didn’t practice until Wednesday, but was still listed as questionable. The initial line offered on the board was Pittsburgh -7 and it ran all the way to -10 kickoff, and the Steelers won 45-10.
Bowl Lines posted
The main story surrounding college football coming into the season was National Champion Ohio State coming back fully loaded with most its starters returning. They were 2-to-1 or less in future prices to win it all again and several books offered YES/NO props on whether they would go undefeated.
With a late season loss to Michigan State and not getting the type of multiple upsets needed on Saturday, the Buckeyes are left out of the playoffs at 11-1. And no one, not even in Columbus, is complaining about the four teams selected ahead of them Sunday to make the playoffs. However, from a point spread and rating point of view, Ohio State would be favored against three of the four teams that did get selected.
As soon as the announcement was made, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted numbers on the two semi-final games to be played on New Year’s Eve. Alabama is a 9.5-point favorite over Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl (MGM Resort books posted -10) while Oklahoma is a 3.5-point favorite over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
It might seem kind of odd to see top ranked Clemson getting points from the fourth rated team, but it’s the right number – this is why Las Vegas ratings should somehow be factored into the college football polling system.
Johnny Avello at the Wynn and Jason Simbal at CG Technology both posted lines on every college football bowl game on Monday. By the way, Ohio State is -6.5 against Notre Dame on New Year’s Day in the Fiesta Bowl.
SB odds shuffled
With the Patriots’ second consecutive loss and giving Cincinnati the fast track to home field in the AFC, the Westgate has adjusted New England from 5-2 up to 4-1 to win the Super Bowl. They are still favored, but undefeated Carolina is gaining ground, dropping from 5-1 last week to 9-2.
The AFC race is going to get real interesting coming up in the next few weeks with three teams sitting at 10-2. Denver has a Dec. 28 date at home with the Bengals that could decide home field. Denver was 10-1 last week and has been dropped to 6-1.
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. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].