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Congratulations, bettors! Y’all stayed the course with your popular favorites despite getting beat up by the sportsbooks most of the season and the dedication paid off in Sunday’s Week 14 NFL action with favorites going 8-5-1 against-the-spread. Joe Public, the wise-guys, and casino whales collectively had a good Sunday sending most Nevada books to a losing day.

“It was a horrible day,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “We had a couple of casino players do really well with the 49ers and Ravens covering. One of them had $300,000 on the 49ers and then we had five different $100,000 wagers on the Ravens that forced us to move all the way to -6.5 -120. We got some back on the Bills at (+6.5) even money, but not enough to erase the hole we had with the Ravens.”

The 49ers (+1.5) won a 48-46 thriller at New Orleans which coupled with the Seahawks’ 28-12 loss at Los Angeles to the Rams gave the 49ers the NFC West lead and No. 1 playoff seed in the NFC with three weeks to go. The 49ers were one of the more popular public plays of the week and so were the Ravens (-6.5), who won 24-17 at Buffalo to keep the No. 1 playoff seed in the AFC. The Ravens have won their last nine games which explains their public popularity and the reason they’re the 3-to-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl. 

But there had to be some better games for MGM books, right?

“No, not really,” Stoneback said. “Handle was light because of the (NFR) rodeo in town so we were kind of at the mercy of those large wagers we lost on to decide our day. We’re even getting beat on the Bull Riding nightly.”

Stoneback says it’s all about what bull the riders draw so it’s not always the favorites that win daily. As for the low handle, when the NFR is in town, they take over the rooms on the strip and they don’t bet on an NFL Sunday as a normal weekend crowd would. 

MGM books couldn’t win on the day if the Sunday night game went their way, but it could have gotten a lot worse.

“We need the Rams because we took a $270,000 wager on the Seahawks,” Stoneback said prior to kickoff of the late game. “If Seattle wins it will probably be our worst day of the season.”   

The Rams gave them a big boost in a dominant win ending the Seahawks’ five-game win streak. 

Caesars Palace book director Jeff Davis said the 49ers was their biggest loser on the day and claimed the day as a solid loser. Station Casinos book director Jason McCormick got some aid with the Rams winning but said they were “still going to have a pretty bad losing day.“ It was the same story at William Hill sportsbooks.

However, there were a couple of books that didn’t lose Sunday.

“We’re about break-even with a slight lean to the black,” said CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso. “We’re lose-lose to the late game but our best scenario would be if the Seahawks and under came through.

“The Broncos winning (38-24 at Houston) was a good game but we had wise guys take +9.5, and +8 to lessen the win. The Ravens were bad with parlays, the Falcons (-3.5, 40-20 vs. Panthers) were awful and the Vikings (-12, 20-7 vs. Lions) were no good, either, nor was the Steelers winning (-1.5, 23-17 at Arizona). Our best game was Tennessee (-3, 42-21 at Oakland) just because of some late action on the Raiders.”  

Unlike most books, CG bet shops did “O.K.” to the 49ers win. The only two Nevada books I know of that reported a win was at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and Marc Nelson’s Atlantis Reno book. 

SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay said the Broncos were their biggest win (killed popular teaser plays), followed by the Redskins (+13, 15-20 at Green Bay), and Vikings. He also had another late surprise to flip the risk of a key game.

“We took a late $70,000 bet on the Patriots to make that game a solid winner,” Kornegay said.

The Patriots’ 23-16 home loss to the Chiefs (+3) was their second straight loss and it’s apparent Tom Brady’s offense is struggling. Hey Rob Gronkowski, your skills are much needed. There’s no need to panic because the Patriots are still 10-3, but it’s in those three losses to AFC teams where there appears to be a changing of the guard with elite QB’s. Brady is 42 years old, and his losses came against 22-year-old Lamar Jackson, and 24-year-olds DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. 

The most surprising win of the day was the Broncos’ 38-24 win at Houston which paid out +350 on the money line at MGM books. Rookie QB Drew Lock threw for 309 yards and 3 TDs and is now 2-0 to start his career. The Texans came off the big win against the Patriots last week and let their guard up against a 4-8 team. The Broncos were up 31-3 at the half. Maybe the Broncos have found their QB of the future. Lock is the seventh Broncos starting QB since Peyton Manning retired.

What I took away with most during Week 14 was that if the Titans and Rams make the wild card round, I wouldn’t want my team playing them. The Rams’ receiving corps is healthy, their defense has upped their game, and Todd Gurley is getting a full load after being part of load management plan most of the season to have him completely healthy for the stretch run. Right now, the Rams are outside looking into the chase one game behind the Vikings for the final wild card with three games to go.

The Titans are going to be a nightmare for some team with QB Ryan Tannehill winning six of his last seven starts (6-1 ATS) since taking over for Marcus Mariota. With Derrick Henry going over 100 yards in his last four games, the Titans’ offense has been high octane and difficult to stop which has helped their last seven games go over the total.

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