After beating Las Vegas sportsbooks in two of the first three weeks of the NFL season, bettors got a little greedy and pressed a group of seven teams hard in Sunday’s Week 4 action.
And as usually is the case for the books, they came out ahead by relying on a simple formula for pro football that has been winning loads of cash from the public for decades: No team is as good as they appear and no team is as bad as they seem.
“Solid day for the book,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “The Jets and Dolphins all made us get up early, but it was worth it for the public who cashed on the Jets.
“The Bears, Redskins, Rams and Vikings were all good for the books.”
The sportsbooks barely blinked when Jay Cutler was announced as the Bears’ starting quarterback where the Raiders ended up closing as 3-point road favorites. But Cutler actually showed some heart and emotion in a 22-20 win. The Raiders were 2-1 ATS before the game while the Bears were 0-3 ATS. The Raiders are a fun team now with David Carr and Amari Cooper hooking up.
The Eagles won back some support of its fans by winning at the Jets last week while the Redskins looked bad on national TV the week before for everyone to witness. Yep, the Eagles should cover -3 easy, right? Nope. It would be the Redskins winning by 3, 23-20, and be one of four outright underdog winners on the day.
The Broncos had covered all three of its games so far and despite being down on an aging Peyton Manning, the public is starting to warm to the new and improved defense under Wade Phillips. The Vikings had played well this season, but the majority of bettors had no trouble laying 7. The Vikings would play very well, but still lose. Denver wins 23-20, but doesn’t cover the number.
The back breaker for most of the public on Sunday was the Cardinals losing its first game of the season. Arizona had covered its first three games of the season by an average score of 42-16.
Laying only 7 points at home against the Rams, who had lost its previous two games, seemed like easy money. In addition to being one of the most popular parlay games, it was also a huge link to several teasers. The Rams would pull out the 24-22 upset.
And that’s the perfect recipe for a winning day at the sportsbooks. It only takes winning four of seven key games and for one upset to kill the teasers and moneyline parlays. That big game was Arizona failing.
Lots of other things happened in the nine other games that included some wins for the players, but they just couldn’t gain any momentum when those four key games didn’t come through.
“The Packers, Falcons, Panthers and Bengals, who are all undefeated, continue to cash tickets for the public,” said McCormick.
Those four teams are a combined 15-1 ATS so far, and you can believe next week the public will be all over them again (Carolina on a bye).
Happy 70th Jimmy V
If there was a Mount Rushmore of sportsbook legends, Jimmy Vaccaro’s face would be front and center. The Pittsburgh native learned how to be a bookmaker on the fly with Michael Gaughan in the 1970’s and he’s been showing us all in one way or another how to do it in Las Vegas for the past 41 years.
Play the “six degrees of separation Kevin Bacon game” with Jimmy Vaccaro and I’ll bet you can link to almost any bookmaker over the past 50 years in three steps or less. He’s passed his wisdom and knowledge down to everyone and always been happy to do it.
I used to watch him on TV before every Monday night football game when he had just opened the Mirage and went something like 15-1 ATS on the year picking the MNF winners.
It was my first inkling that I might want to work in a sportsbook. That was his direct/indirect effect on me. That was 25 years ago. Everyone who has worked in a sportsbook or been a regular bettor in one has some kind of story like that.
So on his 70th birthday on Tuesday, we all raise our Coca-Cola’s (he doesn’t drink alcohol) to Jimmy and say thank you and Happy Birthday!
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].