First week of NFL football everything you could hop for

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Every sports book in Las Vegas had an exciting, energetic atmosphere Sunday that spread throughout the casino thanks to the NFL.

There is nothing quite like a football Sunday in Las Vegas where just about everyone in the casino has some type of rooting interest and can’t help but get involved with the oohh’s and aahh’s of each play as eight games are on simultaneously.
You could argue that a lively full craps game generates some excitement, but only 30 to 50 people are at the game. A major boxing match generates a lively audience at the property it’s at, but those events are so few and far between that many of us have forgotten the vibe it gave us.

NASCAR weekend and the NFR Rodeo also create a great festive atmosphere, but that’s only once a year. No, the NFL is without a doubt the king of Las Vegas excitement.

Nothing tops it and likely ever will. Twice a week between the Sunday and Monday games, for 17 weeks and then the playoffs, the sports book becomes the top destination point of the casino. This past Sunday was an eye-opening reminder of just powerful the game is to Las Vegas as a whole.

The first weekend went well for the sports books thanks to Dallas covering Sunday night’s game. The first wave of morning and afternoon games went the books way with the favorites only going 5-7.

The mounting parlay risk from all those games carried over into a powder keg of liability on the Jets that could have wiped away all the win from the day had New York won by seven points or more.

The Cowboys played very well for the majority of the game, but still found a way to lose 27-24. However, in Las Vegas spread terms, the Cowboys won.

The best games of the day for sports books, before the Dallas game, were played in the morning.

“The morning games were good for us with a great mix of favorites and underdogs winning,” said Coast Resorts race and sports director Bob Scucci. “Our best games of the day were the Steelers and Browns going down which beat all straight bets, parlays and teasers attached to them.”

As big as those games were for the sports books, one game surprisingly showed the most impact on the day as a loss.

“The game that really hurt us was Buffalo,” said Scucci. “We had equal action on parlays with the Chiefs, but the game had been steamed from +6 all the way to 3½ on straight bets. We also got beat with the Texans which everyone seemed to be on before and after the Manning news. We got beat to the punch on the news for a couple pops on the Texans.”

The Bills defense thrashed one of the best running teams in football on their home field 41-7 while the Manning-less Colts looked like worst offensive team in football with only 236 total yards, the bulk of which came in the second half after being down 34-0. The Texans won 34-7 despite Arian Foster not playing.

Other games saw a mix of public and Sharp money that balanced them out making it kind of a wash beginning with the dream team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

“We found some sharp play on the Rams, but almost everyone bet the Eagles in parlays, said Scucci. “On kind of the same note, we had sharp play on the Redskins, but everyone had the Giants on parlays.”

The Eagles were 5-point favorites but dropped to -4 by kickoff, despite a 5-to-2 ratio favoring them in ticket counts. The Giants had been a strong 3-point favorite since April when the first line came out and slowly started to be bet against by the Sharps over the weekend until finally closing at -1½.

The Cardinals were a public favorite with everyone loving the relationship they saw in pre-season between Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald. Choosing Arizona also became easier because of the perception that rookie quarterback Cam Newton might struggle in his first road game.

No one could have predicted what last year’s Heisman Trophy winner would end up doing. Newton set a rookie debut record by throwing for 422 yards and led his team to a near upset win.

The 28-21 Cardinals victory landed right on the number, with some getting the Cardinals at -6½ in a short window of opportunity Saturday. With the bulk of the sides being refunded because of the push, it kept a large quantity of parlays with both sides alive heading into the late game making the Jets game the most important of the day.

It was also interesting to see the Chargers falling out of favor with the public.They had been burned all last season by Norv Turner’s team as large favorites and had finally had enough.

The Chargers usually have one of the largest ticket count disparities weekly, but this week the public was split and were taking the Vikings +9 almost as often as the Chargers.

San Diego again looked like the troubled team from last season, and in some cases worse. They avoided the upset and won 24-17, but the Vikings got the money.

This week’s public games will be the Steelers (-13) over the Seahawks, Dallas (-3) at San Francisco, Baltimore (-5.5) at Tennessee and the Jets (-10) against the Jaguars.

 

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