It came down to overtime to decide the fate of the day for both the Las Vegas sports books and the bettors. Ten games had already posted in what was a day of highs and lows for everyone as NFL Week 9 showed as much parity as the previous eight.
The Oakland Raiders had opened as 2½-point favorites, but by kickoff, sharp money had come in on the Chiefs -1. The small money had been split with a slight lean toward Kansas City. Several bettors in the sports books had opposite sides.
The books were looking to beat the large straight bets and hope for the Raiders to win and take the best of what was still a four-way loss due to all the liability compiled from the other 10 games.
Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 43-yard field goal to tie the game 20-20 and send it to overtime. He then kicked a 33 yarder to win 23-20, much to the jubilation of half the sports book crowd. The first 11 games had ended in somewhat of a draw where the books and bettors each won and lost some.
For the small bettors, they were able to do well with a few of the favorites covering (Saints and Giants), mixed in with the always popular Colts who were a 3-point underdog. The books were able to get help and stop the domino effect of all the public games hitting by taking out some of the bettors’ favorites – Patriots losing straight up; the Vikings, Falcons and Jets winning but not covering.
The sports books held an edge in the early games but gave much of it back, and then some. The popular two-teamers of the Giants and Colts also extended into three and four team parlays because of the popular public OVER the total choice getting there for each game.
The liability was cut in half with the Raiders, but the OVER got there in that game, too, giving the public a 5-1 advantage in the three late games.
Coast Resorts race and sports book Director Bob Scucci was expecting the scenario that occurred Sunday to happen much earlier in the season. However, Scucci wasn’t at all disappointed to see the public do well, acknowledging that they were due.
“I thought last week would be the week the bettors did well just because the higher profile teams are a little more in the spotlight with less games due to six teams having byes,” Scucci said. “Some of the players have been let down with the popular teams such as the Chargers and Saints this year and both came through for them Sunday. It’s been pretty bad all season for the players, so it’s good to see them have a good day and keep their interest high.”
The last thing a sports book wants to do is use up all the bettors cash reserve and have them cut out that portion of their entertainment funds because they finally have to admit they can’t win.
You would think that after losing for eight straight weeks that the bets would be lower with less bet overall on the NFL, but many books have reported flat or even slight increases in year over year handle comparisons to 2009 at the same juncture.
Scucci’s string of sports book’s edge vs. bettors eventually hinged on the outcome of the late game between the Cowboys and Packers. The house needed the Cowboys for a small win but with the Packers rolling and the game going OVER, the bettors finally got their first true winning week of the season.
So is this the time of year now that things start evening out with some of the favorites getting there? Scucci thinks it is.
“We can’t go the entire year with the underdogs covering the way they have for the first seven weeks,” he said. “It has to even out with the big favorites, and I would expect to see it level off from here on out.”
Favorites split the first 11 games of the day, going 5-5-1 with the tie coming thanks to the Bears-Bills game from Toronto. The count was pushed to 6-5-1 with the Packers win. Week 8 saw the favorites go 8-5, but the results didn’t side with the players because a few of the more popular teams they bet lost as underdogs.
Bookmakers were bit hard Sunday by teaser liability. So many underdogs won outright this season that teasers have almost been an assumed win for sports books, unlike years past. Popular teams (Vikings, Falcons and Jets) didn’t cover the spread but did cover on teasers compounding the books loss.
If it hadn’t been for the Patriots losing, teasers alone could have taken a big chunk of the books’ winnings from the first eight weeks. The parlay liability grows even stronger for the Monday night game. Several large parlays give the Steelers a chance to cash big.
Dawg Gone Good: Three weeks ago the Browns surprised everyone by beating the Saints in the Superdome as 13-point underdogs. After a bye week, the Browns were only 5½-point home underdogs to the Patriots, who had the NFL’s best record at 6-1. While the public jumped all over the Patriots at a 7-3 ratio in ticket counts, the Sharps loved the Browns as the number fell to Pats -4 by kickoff.
The combination of smart quarterback play out of rookie Colt McCoy, a stifling defense and hard nose old school running by Peyton Hillis dominated the Patriots like we have seldom seen over the last decade. Hillis rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns giving him 644 yards and eight TD’s on the season.
The Dawg pound should be grateful that Brady Quinn turned out so bad. Hillis’ potential in Denver was realized by most of the fans, but he was another one of the poor moves by Broncos coach Josh McDaniels who has done nearly all he can to rid himself of Mike Shanahan’s players.
Amazingly, Hillis rarely got the ball in college as a blocking back for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas. Both were drafted in the first round the year Hillis was picked in the seventh by Denver. Even with the limited playing time over Hillis’ first three years, he still has more career TD’s (15) than McFadden (11) or Jones (6) and he’s only slightly under in career yardage.
As for the Dawg Pound, Cleveland fans haven’t had a lunch-pail type of player they could identify with and support since Bernie Kosar. Hillis is now the King of Cleveland, picking up the slack left off from the dethroned former King who fled for Miami.
Panthers Dinged: Who are the Panthers going to run this week? Jonathan Stewart was the latest casualty to go down followed by third stringer Tyrell Sutton. Feature back DeAngelo Willimas has already been out for three weeks and his status remains uncertain. Worse yet, starting QB Matt Moore hurt his shoulder, leaving Jimmy Clausen as the probable starter at Tampa Bay this week.
The Amazing Favre: If Brett Favre ever wanted to get rid of Vikings coach Brad Childress, he could have called it quits while losing in the fourth quarter to the Cardinals. The crowd was chanting “Fire Childress” in unison when the Vikings were down 24-10, but Favre put in one of his better performances — despite the fractured ankle — in leading a comeback to tie the game and eventually win in OT.
In the process, Favre threw for a career high 446 yards to push the Vikings record to 3-5 on a season that still has hopes. It truly is amazing that a player who owns almost every passing record in NFL history throws for his career high in his 20th season.