Hometown Raiders deliver for books

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The biggest upset on Sunday was also the best win for the Las Vegas sportsbooks during the NFL’s Week 5 action as the hometown Raiders came up with their best performance under Jon Gruden’s second regime as head coach.

“The Raiders saved us millions,” BetMGM VP of trading Jason Scott said of the Raiders 40-32 win at previously undefeated Kansas City.

The BetMGM books across the country had risk on the Chiefs of over $4 million with everything figured in — straight bets, parlays, money-line parlays, teasers. That is a daunting, almost helpless feeling as a bookmaker who then has to sit, wait, and watch things unfold for three hours. Most of the time with double-digit underdogs, it’s watching a comedy of errors, but the Raiders looked incredible bringing the fight in every drive to the Chiefs, who had won 13 straight before the loss.

“The Raiders was our biggest win of the season,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “It will be interesting how fast that Silver and Black wagon fills up after that impressive win.”

Yes, sign me up for a ticket to the wagon. I’m all aboard for at least 14 weeks as I grew up a Raider-hater. But the Las Vegas Raiders? Wow. I’m impressed.

The plan worked. They’re really good. The SuperBook dropped the Chiefs from -13.5 on Wednesday to -10.5 by kickoff, but still needed the Raiders big.

The Chiefs didn’t seem fazed by the situation even when down by 16 points in the fourth quarter, part of their confident arrogance. Patrick Mahomes never lost to the Raiders as a starter and the Chiefs had won five straight meetings. But Derek Carr may have played his best game in the NFL with 347 yards and three TDs while completing 22 of his passes to 10 different receivers.

The Raiders’ win paid out a Las Vegas-best +450 money line at William Hill sportsbooks.

“It was a good day, but we can give it all back with the Seahawks covering,” said Nevada’s BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback who closed the Seahawks -6.5. “We took a $290,000 bet on the Seahawks -6.5, and we were already long on that side.”

Kornegay and most other books across Nevada needed the same side.

“If we can get the Vikings and under (54) tonight it could be the best Sunday so far in this young season,” Kornegay said.

The optimum scenario happened. The Seahawks would win 27-26, but the Vikings got the money to conclude a day where the favorites would go 6-5 against-the-spread with three underdogs winning outright and the over would go 5-6, helping books after a succession of overs in the first wave of games the past four weeks.

“The Panthers were clearly our second biggest win of the day, Kornegay said. “Sharps and public were on the winless Falcons.”

The Falcons scored the first TD of the day on Sunday, which paid out at 15-1 odds to do so at the South Point, but then didn’t score another all game. The Panthers were in control most of the game, winning 23-16, paying out at +135 on the money line at the SuperBook.

“Other winners for us included the Giants and Dolphins,” said Kornegay. “The Dolphins would have been a bigger winner, but by that time, most parlays and teaser were kaput. Our losers included the Jets (again), Eagles, Bengals, and Rams.”

The winless Giants deserved to win at Dallas, but Cowboys backup QB Andy Dalton made some good throws on the final drive to set up the winning field goal to win 37-34.

Dak Prescott broke his ankle in gruesome fashion for the national TV audience to witness. At 2-3, the Cowboys are now in sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Even more so than the Prescott injury, I think my lasting televised moment from Sunday was Miami catching the 49ers on their worst day in a 43-17 blowout. The Dolphins were relentless, scoring early and often while the 49ers got Jimmy Garoppolo back and he couldn’t move the ball. William Hill books paid out +310 on the Dolphins money line.

“Our best game of the day was the Rams winning as the number dropped from -9 to -7,” Stoneback said of MGM’s Nevada action.

The Rams’ 30-10 win at Washington was their third East Coast visit so far and they’ve scored at least 30 points in them all while going 2-1. After backup QB Kyle Allen got knocked out in the second quarter, we got to witness a tear-jerk moment as Alex Smith played the rest of the game, his first game since breaking his leg and later enduring infection in Week 11 of 2018.

“The Dolphins and Giants covering were also good, but the Cardinals and Ravens covering hurt us,” BetMGM’s Scott said.

The Cardinals’ 30-10 win at the Jets was no good for William Hill books as the Cardinals (-7) were their most one-sided game of the week with 88% of the tickets and 85% of the cash. The Jets and Giants are now 0-5 together for the first time in New York history.

The Ravens (-12.5) 27-3 beatdown on the Bengals was the first game I’ve seen rookie QB Joe Burrow get rocked and not look so cool under pressure as the Ravens brought it. Others will try to follow moving forward.

One more thing. The Steelers are 4-0 to start the year for the first time since 1979 and just like then, they look super. The Colts took a dip in the ratings because Philip Rivers can’t throw further than 30 yards downfield, but the Raiders, Steelers, and Browns get a rating bump up in what is shaping up to be a fun AFC race. 

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