The excitement level from Week 10 is going to be hard for the NFL to top this season. It had just about everything you can think of when dreaming up the wildest, most improbable fantastic finishes. There was enough to last an entire season crammed into one Sunday. However, bettors might disagree about the excitement factor just because Week 10 saw their increased bankroll from the past three weeks dwindle.
“It’s probably our best day of the season and could get better if the Seahawks cover,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook hub manager Jeff Stoneback, just before kickoff of the titanic Sunday night game clash between Super Bowl 49 participants.
“Just look at that over there,” he said motioning toward the Mirage sportsbook counter where lines usually form following the late afternoon results. “That kind of tells you how the day went. Not many are cashing after those late games.”
Favorites would go 3-9 against-the-spread on the day with eight underdogs winning outright. The only team the public piled on that cashed was the Cowboys in their thrilling 35-30 win at Pittsburgh as 3-point underdogs that featured eight lead changes. It was the Cowboys’ eighth straight cover and the first time they’ve won eight straight since 1977, which ended with a win over Denver in the Super Bowl. How about those Cowboys! They have the best record in the NFL using a back-up quarterback.
“The room was jam packed with the crowd mostly rooting for Dallas,” said Stoneback, “and they all erupted when (Ezekiel) Elliott ran in for the last second TD. You would have thought we would have lost with so much support, and we did have a 3-to-1 ratio on tickets written on them, but we had more money on the Steelers. We took a nice six-figure wager on the Steelers -2 on Tuesday.”
The problem for bettors siding with Dallas is that they didn’t have many other selections go their way to complete a winning parlay. The season long reliable trend of betting against the 49ers didn’t work out so well Sunday as they took the Cardinals, who were favored by 14-points, to the final seconds until Arizona got a field goal to win 23-20. The 49ers had failed to cover seven straight games prior to Sunday.
“The 49ers covering was probably our best decision of the afternoon,” said Stoneback.
One of the many fantastic finishes that was big for the sportsbooks saw the Dolphins win 31-24 at San Diego (-4) with Kiko Alonso intercepting a Philip Rivers pass and returning it 60 yards for the game winning touchdown with just 1:01 remaining. Rivers would throw his fourth interception of the game a few moments later to ice the game for Miami. William Hill sportsbooks had 77 percent of all ticket written on the game siding with the Chargers.
Perhaps the most improbable finish of the day was in New Orleans where the Saints (-3) had scored what appeared to be the winning TD with 1:28 left. All that was left to do to take the lead was kick the extra point. However, Denver would not only block the kick, but they’d pick up the ball and return for two-points of their own to take a 25-23 lead and win the game. Action was split on this one, but the Over (50.5) was a popular choice.
The Panthers (-3) blew a 17-3 lead heading into the fourth-quarter where a lifeless Kansas City squad would reel off 17 unanswered points to win, 20-17. It was all aided by an Eric Berry 42-yard interception return for a TD. William Hill books had 60 percent of the cash on this game taking the Panthers, who appeared to be getting back to their 2015 ways, but are 3-6, and still in last place of the NFC South.
One of the few blowouts on the day happened against a team the majority supported. The Packers were -3 at Tennessee, but the Titans jumped all over the Packers’ swiss cheese defense to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and an eventual 47-25 win.
Even sharp money had a hard time cashing as they sided with Jacksonville (-3) and Chicago (-3) all week to move the spread drastically. The Texans would win, 24-21, at Jacksonville while the Bears would lose, 36-10, at Tampa Bay.
It would seem fitting that the finale on the day would come down to a last second goal line stand between the top two rated teams in the league. William Hill books saw 78 percent of the tickets written on the Patriots (-8) over the visiting Seahawks just because New England had gone 7-1 ATS this season and Tom Brady was 4-0 ATS since his return from suspension. But Brady wouldn’t throw a TD pass in the Seahawks’ dramatic 31-24 win with Russell Wilson having his best game of the season – 348 yards passing and three TDs.
“I wouldn’t call it (Week 10) our biggest win of season, but it’s right up there,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews would say following the Seahawks win.
Let’s just call it the most exciting day of the season and go back to the drawing board for Week 11.