Books take it on the chin

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The New Orleans Saints’ win streak is over and so is the Nevada sportsbooks streak over the betting public as NFL Week 14 favorites would go 8-6 against the spread Sunday. It has been a record NFL season for the sportsbooks, but the bettors have fought back.

“It was a good day nationally, but not so good in Vegas,” said BetMGM VP of trading Jason Scott. “We had a couple of our larger customers hit some parlays.”

Nevada’s BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback finished up with some more details.

“We’re a small loser for the day,” he said. “A couple of big parlays hit in the morning games. One of them had the Rams from Thursday carried over to the Titans that paid $247,000 and he bet another one with the Titans to the Buccaneers that paid $329,000.”

That’s a big hole for any book to climb out of in the morning.

“We lost the morning games, but won the afternoon with good results on the Eagles winning and the Lions covering,” Stoneback said. “The Eagles were our best game of the day.”

The Saints’ 24-21 loss at Philadelphia was the biggest win for most sportsbooks because it killed money-line parlays, point-spread parlays, straight bets and teasers. Everything was wiped out as bettors went extra hard for the Saints squad riding a nine-game win streak playing against a rookie QB making his starting debut. William Hill sportsbooks had 91% of the cash bet on the game on the Saints and head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich said it was their best game of the day.

The outright Eagles win paid out a closing best +320 at the South Point, the largest payout among the four underdogs to win. QB Jalen Hurts and RB Miles Sander both rushed for over 100 yards after the Saints defense had gone 55 straight games without allowing one 100-yard rushing game.

The Saints got a late TD to send the game over 42.5 total points, one of only four games to get over between the 14 games. It was an impressive debut by Hurts, which gives Philadelphia lots to think about for this year and beyond as the playoffs are still very well in the mix in an interesting NFC East.

“We had saving backdoors from the Dolphins and Lions and a big outright win for the Eagles,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “The Seahawks, Titans, and Bucs cash for the players.”

McCormick said Stations needed the Steelers in the late game but Marc Nelson at the Reno Atlantis sportsbook needed the other side.

“We needed the Bills money line to hit, but not bad,” he said.

Nelson said the Eagles were their best game and the Buccaneers were their worst. The Bucs covered the 7-point spread in their 26-14 home win against the Vikings, which 70% percent of the cash also sided with at William Hill. It was a loser for the Westgate SuperBook as well.

“Not many winners out there for us,” said SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “We had a bad day, nothing major, but a losing day. We were fortunate that the Eagles held on and the Lions got the backdoor.”

The Lions (+9) kicked a late field goal to get the backdoor cover in a 31-24 home loss to the Packers, who clinched the NFC North title and also took control of the NFC’s No. 1 seed after the Saints lost. It was the second back-door score by the Lions in the fourth quarter, and it was also the Lions’ seventh cover in the last eight meetings with the Packers. A similar back-door happened at Miami in the Chiefs’ 33-27 win.

The Miami game was extra-fun to watch because a smart friend of mine had a Dolphins bet +7.5 for his biggest bet of the season and was texting me throughout the game. It went something like, ”Fish up 10-0, so glad I bet them” to further down saying “I’m never betting against the Chiefs again, forever” after the Chiefs scored 30 unanswered points to lead 30-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Dolphins would score two TDs in the fourth quarter to make it Chiefs 30-24, or in other words, the Dolphins are about to cover the spread in eight of their last nine, and my buddy is getting paid. But then the Chiefs came down the field and kicked an insurance field goal. Yikes, 33-24, and not covering. With less than two minutes to go, the Dolphins quickly went downfield and kicked a field goal. Yes, a field goal with it being a two-score game making an onside kick their pre-Hail Mary. Gonna need it, take it now. Good strategy, but a better back-door.

I was kind of surprised I didn’t hear the announcers give a subtle reminder about what the spread was late in both the Lions and Dolphins games. The league loves Las Vegas and betting now. It’s not like the old days. It’s not taboo for networks anymore, either, some who have deals with sports betting companies. Those moments are a big part of the game for most viewers so give the moment a shout-out on air. “The most unusual of back-door covers for the Dolphins, making the Chiefs now 0-5 ATS in their last five.” That would’ve been cool.

The Dolphins scored 17 points in the fourth quarter with all three of their normal RBs out for the game, as well as a few defensive regulars. This was a win for the Dolphins losing in more ways than just the spread. Rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa threw his first interception but also had a career-best 316 yards passing. You can see something good brewing in Miami. Patrick Mahomes threw for 393 yards but also tossed three interceptions. The Chiefs now have the longest active winning streak with eight straight wins (3-5 ATS).

The day for most books would be graded after the Sunday night game. Between air moves, rating adjustments, and actual bets, the Steelers went from a 1.5-point road favorite to Bills -2 by kickoff. It was a case of what we all saw last on Monday night when the Bills dominated the 49ers and the Steelers suffered their first loss to the Washington’s. Rapid inflation. But neither team deserved such an aggressive adjustment. But bets still came on the inflated but winning side.

“We need the Steelers because our Bills weight came on a $220,000 bet on the Bills at -1.5,” Stoneback said. 

The Bills won, 26-15, handing the Steelers their second straight loss and also giving the Chiefs possession of the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Stay away COVID-19, this bizarre NFL season is getting very interesting.

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