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The Cleveland Browns’ 20-6 win over the New York Giants was the final nail in the coffin for most sportsbooks during Sunday’s Week 15 NFL action.

The Browns number saw a significant move from -3.5 to -6.5, but it wasn’t the main reason why the books lost when favorites went 5-7 against the spread with four underdogs winning outright. The Browns’ risk was amplified more by the Kansas City Chiefs’ 32-29 win at New Orleans, the last of the first 11 games posted Sunday which landed on the spread (-3).

“If the Browns cover, we lose for the day,” said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich prior to the kickoff at the Meadowlands. “But the Chiefs to the over (53) was a big loss. All the buying on and off of 3, and we took a bet on the Jets at +17 for $200,000. But no complaints, we’ve had a horseshoe up our butt for most of the year.”

The Jets notched their first win of 2020 with a 23-20 victory at the Rams, which turned out great for most sportsbooks because of it killing popular teaser combinations and parlays. It also netted the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook a good win on the Jets winless prop, which closed at Yes -210, No at +180.

The Jets could care less about losing the No. 1 pick. I’m not sure why so many pundits suggested the Jets players wanted to lose to get the top pick. You think Frank Gore cares about getting Trevor Lawrence in 2021?

“Most of our Jets win was due to the halftime win,” said SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “We won more at halftime than we dd to the game.”

Nevada’s BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback did well at the half as well.

“One of our biggest wins of the day was the Rams not covering (-10.5 -125) the second half against the Jets,” Stoneback said after the Rams only won 17-10 in the second half.

Stoneback said his Mirage book was relatively quiet Sunday with only 9% of the hotel rooms occupied over the weekend, but they had one special player in town that was going to determine the book’s fate.

“He’s been beating us regularly and got us for seven figures on Saturday and almost won the same amount in the early games on Sunday, but we got most of it back in the late games,” Stoneback said. “He likes to bet quarters and halves more than the game itself. He liked the Giants in all the quarters and first half, but some of the risk was negated with someone else buying the Browns down a half-point to -6 for $240,000.”

Those are the type of players most books love because they don’t care what the number is, and they love fast results. They can break the book on some days, but if the GM of a casino has the nerve to withstand a few bad days for the glory of long-term play, it usually shakes out in the book’s favor.

“Tonight’s matchup (Browns-Giants) will determine if we can hold onto a win,” Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick said before kickoff. “The Falcons, Washington and Cowboys were good for us but we didn’t get that key outright ‘dog winner. The Jets get home but we needed one of the touchdown ‘dogs to get home. There were lots of teaser and money-line parlay winners.”

The Cowboys (+3.5) were the largest morning underdog to win outright in their 41-33 win against the visiting 49ers, paying out a closing best of +184 at Circa Sports. The Bears (+3) would win (33-27 at Minnesota) also paid out a closing best +131 at Circa. The Patriots flipped from a ‘dog to a 1.5-point favorite by kickoff and lost 22-12 at Miami and were also eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Jets’ win in the afternoon paid out a closing best of +1300 at the South Point, who also had a rough day.

“Not good at all,” said the South Point’s Chris Andrews of his Sunday results. “Teasers hurt and the biggest game of the day, Kansas City-New Orleans, fell 3. That really hurt.”

The South Point numbers never have extra juice attached on games as mandated by owner Michael Gaughan, the son of Jackie Gaughan, one of Nevada’s first bookmakers. Attaching -120 to a game at one of the key numbers essentially says the book is closed on that game and it confuses novices, which is where Michael’s mandate came from. He’s always worried about the masses, the little guy getting a fair shake. I love that.

The bookmaker at other establishments uses the extra juice to extend the chart higher on a key number without moving the number on or off of 3, the most key number in pro football. What Andrews has to deal with is how much to take at the same number before moving with the risk of being sided.

The public loved the Chiefs at whatever number, but sharp money from different groups was pounding the Saints +3, and when Andrews moved down to Chiefs -2.5, another sharp group bet them multiple times pushing it back to 3. Andrews has said in the past that he likes to take three to four limit bets to move on or off of three. Andrews went back and forth from 3 to 2.5 a few times. Worst case scenario, the game landed -3 — Chiefs 32-29.

The fact that it was the last game posted of the three afternoon games made it worse because almost everything alive on the day and carryover from the Thursday and Saturday games while also being the most popular game bet of the day gave almost every bettor a push, or the live parlays reduced down for both sides. And then the wise guys sided Andrews with the Chiefs -2.5 win.

But in the long run, the South Point strategy attracts more business and they win more because of it. Games around 3 haven’t hurt the South Point very much.

“I’d say so,” Andrews said of the strategy regarding win-loss. “But I don’t have the numbers (to prove it now).”

The Chiefs game was also bad for Matt Metcalf’s Circa sportsbook who was taking rapid-fire bowl game action as they posted lines almost as each game was announced on Sunday. Marc Nelson’s Atlantis sportsbook in Reno became a small loser after the Browns’ win while Kornegay’s SuperBook had a decent day, citing the Chiefs as their biggest issue.

“We really needed the Chiefs to win by more than three which was the major swing for us,” Kornegay said.

The bottom line is that bettors came up big when they need it the most around Christmas. Congrats to them. Happy last-minute shopping everyone and Merry Christmas.

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