Into the early evening of Sunday, October 17, Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller aimed to take the short way home, grab a full bottle of Knob Creek, and disappear into a room, locking the door behind him.
“One of those days,” he wrote on social media about a day full of victories by NFL favorites, which meant his book—and many in Las Vegas and around the country—sustained heavy losses.
October 24 nearly went the same way.
The past two Sundays, however, have been causes for celebration, especially last Sunday when seven underdogs won outright.
“Yeah, buddy, that was a rough one,” Miller laughed Wednesday, reminded of October 17. “That was a bad, bad day for the book. Two weeks in a row, the same thing happened. It has gotten better the past two weeks. We got most of it back.
“Still, that one day … we have to explain everything to [bosses] upstairs. That kind of puts a knife into your back. Whenever all those favorites come in, it’s a bad thing.”
And last Sunday?
“When the underdogs come in, that snowball for us gets bigger and bigger, and goes through the night. We had a very good day. When all those dogs come in, it chops down parlays, chops down the teasers. A great day and night.”
Jay Kornegay, executive vice president of SuperBook USA, empathizes with Miller — both are veterans of the roller-coaster nature of NFL Sundays on the other side of the counter.
For a book project three years ago, South Point owner Michael Gaughan leaned over his desk to tell me, “America loves underdogs, but America bets favorites.”
Kornegay laughs and says, “Very true.”
MGM Resorts’ Nevada sportsbook operations reported losing on only the Chargers-Eagles game last Sunday, finishing in the black on the day’s 11 other games. Miller said the Nugget experienced similar results.
The Cardinals-49ers game was also a drain on the SuperBook’s bottom line.
Still, overall, Kornegay admitted that a little congratulatory toast, maybe a shot of Miller’s favored Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, might have been in order after those two recent Sunday bloodbaths.
Onto Week 10 ….
The bookmakers wash their hands, prepare for another weekend. Week 10’s marquee offering is the very-public Packers playing host to the Seahawks, with both quarterbacks in the spotlight.
We look at that clash and other games with substantive line movements, with consensus figures highlighted.
NFL · Sun (11/14) @ 4:25pm ET
|SEA Seahawks||at||GB Packers|
|Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin|
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Seahawks (3-5 SU, 5-3 ATS) at Packers (7-2 SU, 8-1 ATS)
Line: Packers -3.5, Total 49.5
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with a COVID-positive test, missed last week’s game at Kansas City. The Packers won’t know until Saturday whether Rodgers can go this week.
Update: Rodgers has been cleared to play
“We have to assume that he’s gonna play, and we look at it that way,” says Miller. “[Our] number is three, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes to three-and-a-half. But we’re making sure that he plays. We’re making sure that Russell Wilson is there, too.
“They’re both iffy.”
Early Wednesday afternoon, the Nugget had Green Bay -3 (-110). The SuperBook was dealing Packers -3 (-120).
“I believe this will end up at four, with both quarterbacks playing,” says Kornegay. “There’s no reason for us to be at three right now. We probably should be at three-and-a-half, not three minus one-twenty. Maybe I will move it right after this call.”
About 21 hours later, the SuperBook indeed moved the Packers to -3.5 (even). Around the same time, the Nugget shifted to Green Bay -3.5 (-110). Half an hour later, Miller went to even-money for that -3.5.
Green Bay is an NFL-best 8-1 against the number. The previous six games for both have finished ‘under’.
Wilson had surgery one month ago to repair a ruptured tendon in the middle finger of his right (passing) hand. A remarkable recovery convinced a doctor to clear him for this game.
He left Seattle’s home game against the Rams on October 7 and will have missed only three full games if he plays Sunday afternoon.
“We’re keeping close tabs on that game,” says Miller. “Trust me, I’ve got my team watching ESPN, Twitter, all sorts of stuff, just to make sure who’s playing, and in case someone doesn’t. That’s a big number-mover if one of them doesn’t play.”
He added that he didn’t believe it would hit 4.5.
“Four will be tops,” says Miller. “Again, though, we have to make sure Russell Wilson plays. For some reason, if he doesn’t play, you’ll see that number go over seven, probably.”
An intriguing angle of this game is the defensive ratings of both teams over their past three games. Seattle is second in points per play (at 0.202) in the NFL, Green Bay fifth, at 0.234. Recipe for an ‘under’?
NFL Week 10 totals: Trends point to ‘over’ in Vikings-Chargers
Chiefs (5-4 SU, 2-7 ATS) at Raiders (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS)
Line: Chiefs -2.5, Total 51.5
The game’s total has been sliced from 53.5 at many Vegas properties. Miller expects it to nudge back to 52 or 52.5, maybe higher. The Nugget and SuperBook both have Kansas City -2.5 (-120).
“The Kansas City defense is very, very suspect,” he says. “We expect [Raiders quarterback David] Carr to have a good game against them.”
The Chiefs, meanwhile, will be .500 with a defeat. They are yielding more average points (25.2) than they’re scoring (24.6), and the big picture is worse than that.
They’re smack in the middle of the league in scoring, after finishing sixth (28.5 ppg) in 2020, second (29.9) in ’19, and first (34.8) in ’18.
“The Chiefs are really hard to figure out,” says Kornegay. “They are just consistently inconsistent. It’s hard for a lot of people to look at the Chiefs still, to this day, because of what we’ve seen over the past few years.
“To bet this team ‘under’, or to bet against them, isn’t normal for the public. And we still haven’t seen it. It’s going to take a couple of additional poor performances before that happens.”
The Raiders have had so many issues, their games are almost secondary. However, they did manage to lose 23-16 in New York to the Giants last Sunday. Receiver DeSean Jackson is a new roster addition.
And still, they’re tied with the L.A. Chargers atop the AFC West.
“Las Vegas had been over-performing,” says Kornegay, “but coming off that loss and all the distractions in their camp, versus a team that just week in and week out is under-performing … when are [the Chiefs] going to wake up? It’s anybody’s guess.”
More on Chiefs-Raiders: Betting preview and pick
NFL · Sun (11/14) @ 1:00pm ET
|ATL Falcons||at||DAL Cowboys|
|AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas|
Falcons (4-4) at Cowboys (6-2)
Line: Cowboys -9.5, Total 54.5
The Cowboys are a public team, and the Golden Nugget goes bananas over their games for another reason.
Tilman Fertitta, who owns the Nugget, headquarters his business empire in Houston. On many weekends, the Nugget hosts VIPs from the Lone Star State.
“And they play the Cowboys and Texans,” says Miller. “And we expect a lot of play on them from … public square money, I’m gonna say.”
As for Sunday’s game against the Falcons, “I’m gonna try to not let it go to 10, but I’m gonna get a lot of play on the Cowboys this weekend,” the bookmaker added.
At most properties, this total has moved four points to get to 54.5. The Cowboys are second in the league, to Tampa Bay, with a home points-per-play rate of 0.531.
Kornegay has spotted a few 55s.
Denver’s 30-16 victory last Sunday at Dallas, which owns a 3.5-game lead over the Eagles and Giants atop the NFC East, was one of the season’s more-perplexing outcomes.
Kornegay claims Colorado as his home state, and it surprised even him.
“The Cowboys just happened to lay an egg last week,” he says, “which means they probably will have a little red ass going into this game. They got shut out for 55 minutes. That was shocking. No one saw that coming.
“As a Broncos fan, I certainly did not see that coming.”
High rollers hit town Friday and Saturday, when Miller expects an influx of Texas dollars. Kornegay, too, expects this game to attract more attention.
“Sharps basically pushed [the total] up,” he says. “The public hasn’t pushed that up. The public hasn’t really gotten ahold of the game, yet. It would take quite a bit of public money on the ‘over’ to continue that climb. I just don’t see it topping out at 55.”
Some of those sharps who got 50.5 or 51, however, might be lying in wait, he says, to see if it hits 55 or 55.5, when they’ll strike the other way and hope to middle the game.
NFL · Sun (11/14) @ 1:00pm ET
|TB Buccaneers||at||WAS Washington|
|FedExField, Landover, Maryland|
Buccaneers (6-2 SU, 3-5 ATS) at Washington (2-6 SU, 1-7 ATS)
Line: Bucs -9.5, Total 51.5
Kornegay watched this favorite move from a look-ahead -7.5 points to an opening number of -9.5. The spread and total have stayed steady all week.
Miller earmarks this one to be involved in many 7-point teasers, from Tom Brady aficionados who will relish covering all the vital figures.
“I expect Tom Brady to go in there and have a field day,” says Miller.
Rams (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS) at 49ers (3-5 SU, 2-6 ATS)
Line: Rams -4, Total 49
This total has eked up from 47. Rams money has nudged the spread to four, but it’s slipped up to 4.5 a couple of times at the SuperBook.
However, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is nursing an ankle injury whose degree is not certain.
The 49ers were in a desperate situation against a Kyler Murray-less Arizona squad, at home last Sunday, but fell flat. In the NFC West, Arizona (8-1) has a one-game advantage over the 7-2 Rams.
“Just dismal,” says Kornegay. “They had every reason to win that game, and they just couldn’t do it. I don’t understand how they couldn’t stop Colt McCoy. So if the Niners are going to get back into this race, this is the game.
“And the Rams have an opportunity to reinstate their status as a Super Bowl contender. Both had high expectations but poor performances last week, and both just failed.”
Stafford is the question mark.
“He’ll play, but will he be 80 percent or 90 percent? Ninety-five? Not too sure,” says Kornegay. “If he’s having a problem moving around back there, with those play-action passes, he might be limited.”
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