Is Peyton Manning really back to being himself? Is Gary Kubiak’s offense finally coming around? And is this the best Denver defense in 38 years?
It was a strange twist of irony for Las Vegas sportsbooks on Sunday night when the Packers played the Broncos in a battle of undefeated teams. For the past three seasons in an isolated night game at Denver, the books have needed the road team to save the day as bettors all lined up to bet the high scoring Broncos behind Peyton Manning, and the bettors usually always got paid.
But Sunday night was a little different. In fact, it was a lot different as the Packers came in as 2.5-point favorites and the majority of bettors all sided with Green Bay and its high scoring offense. South Point sportsbook director Bert Osborne said the Packers were bet at an 8-to-1 ratio over the Broncos, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been lighting up everyone this season and its defense was allowing only 16.8 ppg. Meanwhile, Broncos QB Peyton Manning had looked sluggish trying to adapt to new coach Gary Kubiak’s offense.
But on this night, it was back to the future – or past – for Manning and the Broncos. Not only did Denver don their blue jerseys for the game, the same uniforms they wore when they beat the Packers for their first Super Bowl win in 1997, but Manning was again the best quarterback on the field with a 21-of-29 performance that netted 340 yards.
Rodgers threw for only 77 yards in the 29-10 Broncos’ win, the lowest total of his career in a game he didn’t leave with an injury. Denver also got its ground game going, which Kubiak has been waiting for, with 160 yards and three touchdowns.
Denver’s defense gave us a blast to the past with some Orange Crush. It might be the Broncos’ best defense they’ve had since that 1977 squad. They harassed Rodgers all game and never allowed him to get into any rhythm. He was only sacked three times, but it seemed he was on the run on every passing play and the Packers were only 2 for 8 in third down efficiency. Denver outgained Green Bay 500 yards to 140. Denver’s defense now leads the NFL with only 16 ppg and 261 ypg allowed.
The Broncos win was a savior for the books. CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal said the first 11 games went well, but they would have “given all the win back with a Packers cover due to all the parlay exposure.”
The good day for the books got started with the Buccaneers winning 23-20 in overtime at Atlanta as 8-point underdogs.
“The Bucs saved the day for us early on,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “That win killed a lot of money-line parlays and teasers. The bettors did well with the Cardinals, Bengals and Vikings early, but the afternoon combo of Dallas and Oakland covering was our best situation.”
And then the Broncos win was the cherry on top a winning sundae for the books.
Bettors have a lot to think about after Week 8 action. The Bengals are now 6-0-1 ATS after its 16-10 comeback win at Pittsburgh. The Cardinals were the most one-sided bet game of the week and they covered 7-points in its 34-20 win at Cleveland. Those teams will again be bet weekly until something drastically changes, like they stop covering. But how do people now change their opinions on Denver and Green Bay?
Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White says he boosted Denver’s rating a full point after Sunday night’s win. Are the Broncos about to get in favor with the bettors again? And after covering its first five games of the season, the Packers haven’t covered the last two.
Is Green Bay going to be on the outs with the public? Seattle, a traditional public favorite, has already been in the bettors’ dog house for going 2-4-1 ATS and they failed to cover again Sunday at Dallas in a 13-12 win as 4-point favorites. Sharp money was all over the Cowboys pushing the line from +6 to +4.
And after sleepwalking the first few weeks, another traditional public favorite – New Orleans – has now covered three straight against quality opponents. Drew Brees is back! Seven TD’s in a 52-49 thriller against the Giants, wow! The Falcons were the early season public favorite at 4-0 ATS, now they are out of favor as they’ve failed to cover its last four.
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].