Five outright underdog winners; Patriots hold strong for sharps

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Las Vegas sports book were rocking Sunday with a buzz we haven’t seen since Week 1.

Part was almost every media outlet hyping the Patriots visit to Denver, which helped spur the largest single game handle of the season for many books. It also was all the wonderful upsets.

Although the bettors experienced a rare collective loss on the day, the price of admission was almost worth it. The early games gave us five outright underdog winners, including the Packers 19-14 loss at KC as 14-point underdogs and the winless Colts taking down Tennessee.

While small money was laying whatever spread there was on Green Bay, sharp money came in strong Sunday morning on the Chiefs dropping the line to -11 by kickoff.

Just last week Lucky’s sports books had taken down their odds asking if the Packers would go undefeated because it looked too inevitable with only three games remaining. Their final price on the proposition was YES, they would go undefeated -140.

Between the Packers loss and the Patriots impressive 41-23 win at Denver, the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book immediately dropped its Super Bowl line from NFC -4½ to -3½. The Packers remain 9-5 favorites to win the Super Bowl, but the Patriots were dropped down to 4-1.

New England was also lowered to win the AFC at 7-5 favorite due to being two steps closer to securing home field advantage. The Ravens and Texans both came into Week 15 at 10-3 and were contending for home field.

For Baltimore, not getting home field will be a huge disadvantage for them. Their loss to San Diego as 2½-point favorites was their fourth on the road. Losing at San Diego in December where Philip Rivers is now 23-2 as a starter in understandable, but it adds to the bad losses at Jacksonville, Seattle and Tennessee.

The Texans were a popular bet Sunday with the public laying any number from the opener of -7 to -6½. Sharp money started floating in Friday on the Panthers and pushed the game down to -5½ by kickoff. It was a tough spot for rookie T.J. Yates to bounce back off a huge emotional win last week in Cincinnati. The Texans could be in trouble and more questions will surface why they didn’t go after Orton when Matt Schaub went down.

The Patriots game went as planned by the public and sharps. Small money came in at a 3-to-2 ratio on the Pats while large money pushed the line from 5 to -7½ at most books. Cantor Gaming sports books were way ahead of the curve on the game with its -9½ (+105) line.

For the first time all season we saw Tim Tebow and the Broncos set the early fast pace and take an early 17-6 lead behind 167 yards of rushing in the first quarter. However, things quickly turned as three critical second quarter turnovers allowed the Patriots to run off 27 unanswered points.

Missing from the game was the Broncos pass rush that has pestered opposing quarterbacks all season. It was almost as if coach John Fox was giving Tom Brady too much respect by keeping defenders back and not blitzing as much as we have seen throughout Denver games.

The Broncos defense was also severely weakened by not having Brian Dawkins patrol the outfield. Dawkins replacement, rookie Rahim Moore, made Tony Lilly from the Broncos past look like a good tackler.

Despite the loss, most will agree that Tebow played very well and just got outgunned by one of the league’s all-time best.

The Broncos (8-6) aren’t clear in the AFC West just yet. We’ve seen the Chargers (7-7) catch them from way behind before and they’re coming on strong again, just one game behind. The Raiders (7-7) are also in the hunt despite losing three games in a row.

The winner of the AFC West will be a No. 4 seed in the playoffs with a home game likely against the Ravens or Steelers, which isn’t going to be easy. With so much up in the air, odds to win the AFC have the Broncos 13-1, Chargers 10-1 and Raiders 75-1. Should the Chargers get in, their offense provides more possibilities for running the playoff table, especially if they come in with a five game winning streak.

The NFC still has a nice battle going with the Eagles still alive and well, as crazy as that sounds. It was just two weeks ago where the Eagles were 500-1 to win the NFC. After a few Giants and Cowboys losses, they are down to 15-1 while the Cowboys are 10-1.

For the Eagles to get in, it’s pretty simple. They need to beat the Cowboys and have the Jets beat the Giants this week. In Week 17, they’ll have to beat the Redskins and have the Giants beat the Cowboys. That would make all three teams 8-8 with the Eagles holding a 5-1 division record.

Crazier things have happened. It was just two months ago we witnessed the Cardinals win the World Series when the sports books adjusted them to 1,000-to-1 midway through September and five games out.

For the week, favorites went 7-7-1 ATS making the season total 106-109-5.

 

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