You might have thought there was some kind of parade that rolled through every Las Vegas sports book Sunday as the 1 p.m. games had just completed, but that wasn’t confetti.
Those were ripped sports betting tickets as bettors took it on the chin and the books experienced their best Sunday of the NFL season.
The NFL brand is certainly consistent with its entertainment, but never too predictable. No team is ever as good as they seem or as bad. Just when you start believing the Titans might be the worst team in football, they win a road game to stop a six-game slide. And just when you believe the worst back-up QB in the league has no shot in a spot start for a down team, they go out and win.
The Titans’ 34-28 overtime win at New Orleans as 7-point underdogs was the first of many games that had bettors guessing wrong. Another big one was San Francisco at home as a 9-point underdog against Atlanta, a large line move spurred by news last Tuesday that Blaine Gabbert would be starting at QB in place of the ineffective Colin Kaepernick.
The Falcons were only 4-point favorites before the news, but San Francisco didn’t need any points in its 17-16 win.
“I’d say the Titans have been the least bet NFL team all season,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook vice-president Jay Kornegay. “That goes for cash taken in, ticket counts – everything. But the public likes betting against them, too. I think the 49ers are a close second in that category as well.”
No one bets those two teams, which means the books always scoop the chips whenever they finally do win. The biggest thing those two games did for the books was to eliminate public momentum on exotics.
“Those two were really big for us just because it killed off a lot of the big money-line parlays and teasers and then all the way down to all the parlays,” Kornegay said.
So who can you trust in this league? Basically, right now it’s only the Bengals who won last Thursday to take its mark to 8-0 and 7-0-1 ATS. We thought we were starting to trust the Saints during a 4-1-1 ATS run in its previous six before Sunday, but we were wrong.
The Falcons? Well, most should have jumped off the boat a while ago as they’ve now failed to cover its last five games.
The Patriots are still undefeated after a 27-10 win as 14-point home favorites over the Redskins to boost their cover mark to 5-2-1 ATS. They were the only popular public team of the day that covered.
So you had a bunch of bettors with their four team parlays going 1-3 on the day with the winning Patriots side attached to teams like the Falcons, Saints, Broncos, Jets, Steelers and Packers.
By the time the get-back game with the Eagles kicked off, most liked Philly. First they had to reload at the ATM and then came in weary because of what they saw on the day with four of the six underdogs that covered win outright.
“Maybe the Cowboys do have a shot,” bettors would say to themselves as they were second-guessing their pick. And that’s where the books get their edge, because the public is so predictable at who they’re going to take. We believe what we saw last most. The NFL does a great job at keeping us guessing while the books do fine charging that little extra popularity tax on certain teams.
It’s why Denver was as high as a 6-point road favorite at Indianapolis and that Green Bay was -2.5 at Carolina. Both extremely inflated, but the high numbers turned out to be just right for the books because bettors jumped on those sides anyway.
The Broncos’ 27-24 loss was their first of the year, but as the game was going on, you couldn’t help but feel that you knew all along that Peyton Manning really is getting old, despite saying he was back to being the ‘Sheriff’ just one week earlier.
Three weeks ago the Packers were on the way to another Super Bowl in a lot of people’s eyes, but after two undefeated teams took it to them pretty good, they’ve raised a lot more questions about weaknesses on defense, the offensive line and the running game.
The Panthers’ 37-29 win takes them to a perfect 8-0 record, going 6-2 ATS. The public hasn’t quite warmed up to them at the bet windows, but that’ll change moving forward.
Carolina will now be included in the most popular parlay plays of the week. Bettors just like winners, and in Carolina’s case, they just needed to be persuaded a little bit more that they were for real.
“It was a really good weekend combined with a lot of the key college football games going our way on Saturday and then we had the fortune of getting two larger than touchdown favorites lose outright which helped us do well on Sunday,” Kornegay said.
When pressed for where the NFL Week 9 weekend ranked, he added, “it’s probably the best Sunday we’ve had this season. I know Week 2 was good as well.”
CG Technology’s vice-president of risk Jason Simbal said, “it was the best Sunday of the season so far.”
After starting the season 3-3 against the bettors on NFL Sunday’s, the books have now won three straight. Books adjust, maneuver and predict who you’re going to bet. They make you pay extra for them. The key is trying to stand ground and not fall in line with the rest of the herd falling over the cliff together.
It’s hard accepting that dregs like Jacksonville, Tennessee and San Francisco can all cover on the same weekend, but it should be harder to accept some of those inflated lines that were offered on their opponents.
Things always cycle around and the books have the bettors back-peddling a bit. So bettors, go back to the drawing board for Week 10 and do a double take on some of those inflated numbers of teams we all like so much before pulling the trigger on a wager.
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].