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The NFL has laid claim as the No. 1 action series during a pandemic, feeding us all the drama we need as we’re home more than ever. It’s a 17-week, suspense-filled non-scripted reality show deserving of several Emmys that keeps drawing us back week after week. And it’s big business in every sportsbook across America.

“The NFL is unpredictable like the college basketball schedule,” joked Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “Looking over the Week 13 results you can see a few surprises which normally translates to a good day for us.”

Beyond the schedule that had a Thursday night game moved to Tuesday due to COVID-19 protocols, the end result was par for the course in a wacky 2020.

The Jets find another way to lose and remain winless. The Saints win their ninth straight as wiseguys bet feverishly against them, and the Patriots win 45-0 at the Chargers’ new SoFi Stadium putting Bolts head coach Anthony Lynn next in line at the job guillotine.

But the big money winner for just about every sportsbook was the New York Football Giants maintaining first-place with a backup QB winning on the road.

The Giants’ 17-12 win at Seattle (-11) behind backup Colt McCoy was the biggest win for most sportsbooks in Sunday’s Week 13 NFL action. The game was one of six to have teams favored by 7 points or more and they were the only one to win outright, closing at +475 on the money line at the SuperBook. The Giants have won five of their last seven and became the first NFC East team to beat a winning team in 2020.

“Another good day,” said Nevada’s BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback on what is becoming a weekly trend for the house. “The morning games were a small winner for us as we went 2-2 in our four biggest decisions, but the afternoon games were outstanding led by the Seahawks losing (Giants winning). It killed lots of parlays and left the late game risk on the Chiefs with a minimal loss.”

BetMGM had a 6-to-1 ticket count ratio on the Chiefs, but several parlays and teasers heading into the game were eliminated with the earlier results posted. Large liability erased in an instant. William Hill had 88% of its tickets written on the Chiefs prior to the early kickoffs. It was their No. 1 weighted side of the 12 Sunday games.

The Chiefs would win 22-16 but not cover against the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs made five field goals and won, their 12th straight win against Denver.

Crazy. BetMGM took a $100,000 bet on the Broncos (+14) Sunday afternoon that dropped them to +12.5 of a spread that had the Chiefs -14 most of the week.

Station Casinos saw similar betting patterns as BetMGM, but they had a better morning.

“The morning games were very good with the Lions (+3, 34-30 win at Chicago), Jaguars (+10, 27-24 overtime loss at Minnesota), Jets (+7, 24-28 loss to Raiders), and Saints (-2.5, 21-16 win at Atlanta),” said Station’s sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “The Giants were huge in the afternoon, but Rams (-3, 38-28 win at Arizona) and Packers cashed in for the bettors.”

The Packers had 86% of the tickets written at William Hill and they’d out-backdoor the Eagles in the fourth quarter to cover -8.5 at Lambeau Field. This was a ho-hum 23-3 Packers steamroll and then the Eagles put in backup rookie QB Jalen Hurts and got a nice TD pass from him on the run and then soon after they’d get a punt return for a TD making it 23-16, the backdoor cover.

But RB Aaron Jones would get it back for Packers backers immediately with a dazzling 77-yard TD run to make it 30-16 with 2:36 left. The under 49.5 total points also cashed but made a sure winner early sweat late. Also, congratulations go out to Aaron Rodgers for throwing his 400th career TD pass during the game.     

The Raiders (-7) were one of the most bet teams of the week and the game had 12% of the Week 13 tickets written, and most of those were on the Raiders which is hard to explain the loyalty after a 43-6 beating they took at Atlanta last week. The Raiders opened -9 and sharp money took the Jets, but the majority of small money backed the Raiders and outweighed the sharp money. The Jets covered the number in a 31-28 loss. Most books made out like a bandit with the Jets covering, but not all of them.

“Our biggest loser of the day was the Jets based off one bettor taking +7.5 -120 laying $240,000 to win $200,000,” Stoneback said..

Up North in Reno, one book crushed it on Sunday.

“We didn’t have any bad games,” said Reno Atlantis sportsbook director Marc Nelson. “The Giants, Patriots, and Lions were the best results for us, and there’s very little liability tonight (Chiefs game). Having three more games after the Sunday night game helps with liability also.”

Two games Monday and one game Tuesday, which will have the carryover risk of being the last games to post with the parlays and teasers. Tuesday’s game with the Cowboys at Baltimore (-9) will be like a normal Monday night game risk-wise, the Bills vs. the 49ers (-2) played at Arizona will take on the role of a normal Sunday night game, and the Chiefs and Washington vs. Steelers (-7) Monday afternoon game will be like a normal 1 p.m. Sunday game. I’ve never seen that before, but the dynamic of risk building with each flows the same whatever week it is.

Favorites would go 5-7 against-the-spread with four of the underdogs winning outright and eight of the 12 games would stay under the total.

Acton has been decent in the sportsbooks with mobile phone wagering making a serious mark like never before, but this time of year always takes a few eyes off the betting board. It’s a hectic next few weeks for many households.

“It’s always slow this time of year for us with Christmas coming up, and this year we don’t have the rodeo,” said Stoneback.

Giddy-up. I miss the rodeo folk in town hootin’ and hollering at the South Point bars and blackjack tables. Come back soon my friends.

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