Books have a merry post-Christmas

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Sunday’s Week 16 NFL action had favorites going 7-4 against the spread with three of the underdogs winning outright and the Over going 5-6. It was a good enough mix to show a small win for most sportsbooks on a sleepier than usual NFL Sunday.

“It was a good day,” said Nevada’s BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “We had a big morning with us losing only one game – the Bears.”

The Bears tied for William Hill’s most bet game on Sunday and had 82% of the cash taken in their 41-17 win over the Jaguars, a game that was 10-10 at one point. The Bears were one of three teams that hurt Jay Kornegay’s Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

“Our worst losses were the Steelers, Jets, and Bears, “Kornegay said. “The volume was the lowest of the season which isn’t a surprise because of the Christmas weekend and the lousy card today. Overall, a break-even day.”

The Steelers-Colts was tied for the most bet game at William Hill with 11% of the bets, but the Colts had 66% of the action. The SuperBook didn’t see the type of Colts action that William Hill got on the Colts, who were briefly a 1.5-point favorite before the Steelers closed -1. The 28-24 Steelers win, after being down 24-7, ended a three-game losing streak and gave them the AFC North crown for the first time since 2017.

The Jets beating the Browns 23-16 turned out well for William Hill books as 84% of the bets were on the Browns who dropped from -9.5 to -6.5 after six players were put on COVID-19 protocol which included their top-four receivers. The new wideouts were guys fresh off the practice squad and QB Baker Mayfield wasn’t comfortable with them and didn’t go to them, and the Jets knew it. The aftermath of the game has the Browns still waiting to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. They’ll need some help in Week 17 to make it. The Jets win paid out a closing best of +250 at the South Point and also gave the Jaguars the No. 1 pick for next year’s NFL draft.

“It was a decent day, just wanted to avoid a beating – mission accomplished,” said William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich after the bettors had their way the last three weeks.

“The afternoon games had us climbing out of a hole made by one bettor who took the Panthers on the money-line (-115) for $500,000, but we did well on the other three games to offset it. We got a lot of it back with the Cowboys winning against a popular Eagles side.”

The Panthers moved to a 1-point favorite on Sunday before their 20-13 win at Washington, a game that may have sealed the fate of QB Dwayne Haskins for the Football Team which benched him in the second half a week after losing his captainship for breaking COVID-19 rules and going to a strip club last Sunday after a loss to the Seahawks. Washington is still in the driver’s seat for the NFC East crown, but they have to beat the Eagles next week who are favored by -4.

The Cowboys are back in the playoff talk mix because with a win next week at the Giants (+2.5) coupled with a Washington loss, Dallas gets a home game in the wild card round.

The Eagles came into Dallas as the most one-sided bet of Week 16 with the hoopla surrounding rookie QB Jalen Hurts. The Eagles closed as the 3-point road favorite and bettors looked like prophets as the Eagles jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. But then Ezekiel Elliott ran for over 100 yards and Andy Dalton threw for 371 yards and three TDs in his best effort since Dak Prescott was injured. Final score: Cowboys, 37-17.

The Chiefs had the largest spread of Week 16 (-11) for their home game against the Falcons, but needed some luck to win 17-14 and clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed. That makes them 1-6 ATS in their last seven games with the one cover happening last week by a half-point at New Orleans.

“The Chiefs haven’t been very good to the people in the last seven weeks,” Stoneback said. “They just don’t appear as explosive, but still exude confidence of knowing they’re going to win every game.”

It has to be a scary feeling for any defense to realize the Chiefs are never rattled no matter how far they’re behind. It’s a cocky arrogance that goes well with the high level of offensive talent.

Stoneback said his books did well to the Friday game and three Saturday games which didn’t have much carryover into Sunday’s games. Most books needed the Titans in the Sunday night game, but BetMGM books needed the other side.

“We need Green Bay on the basis of one Titans wager for $240,000 on +3.5 -120,” Stoneback said. “We opened the total at 56 and dropped it down to 52 due to the conditions but people were still betting the over. I’m sure we’ll get a run on the under once they see the video with snow on the field.”

The conditions were a snow-covered field with snow falling, 25 degrees, and 12 mph winds. I was a bit miffed that there wasn’t more of a reaction to dropping the total. Station Casinos had the lowest number at 51.5 but closed at 52 because bettors kept coming in on the Over in a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams. Kornegay said he was comfortable with the way they moved the total.

“I think the weather will get better as the game goes on,” he said. And it did. The snow stopped falling, the wind slowed, and we ended up with a 40-14 Packers win, landing on 54.

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