When Underdogs go 8-4-1 against-the-spread on an NFL Sunday, the Las Vegas sportsbooks usually load the Brink’s truck up full of cash won from the bettors. However, that wasn’t the case in Week 7 where there were mixed results around town – small losers, break even, or winners.
What wasn’t mixed was the public opinion on the Patriots, who won 27-16 at Pittsburgh as 7.5-point favorites. Bettors can’t get enough of Tom Brady and the Pats and their opinions were solidified even more with Ben Roethlisberger not starting for the Steelers.
“We came out on the short end today,” said Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “It was kind of odd the way things unfolded. A lot of the games were fairly balanced and we didn’t have any real big decisions, but the few we did have we lost with. We lost with the Browns and Raiders and the really big one was us needing the Steelers.”
The Patriots have now covered three straight in dominating fashion since Brady returned in Week 5. Their excellence is becoming a thorn in the books’ side.
“The Patriots are now 6-1 against-the-spread,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick.” And the players cash every week with them.”
The other team that has the bookmakers scratching their heads through the first seven weeks is the Browns, who lost 31-17 at Cincinnati (-11.5).
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do with those Browns,” said Kornegay. “They’re just a really bad team, but they were getting double digits against an average team this week. They just play bad football, and I realize that the NFL is based on parity, but it seems like it’s the same bad product every week with them.”
So if the bettors keep laying whatever spread is posted on the Patriots and whoever the Browns play, why not put an extra 20 percent luxury tax on the spread for each?
“We’re already building in higher spreads with the Browns and Patriots,” Kornegay said, noting the Browns are still the only winless team and are 2-5 ATS.
While most books had a tough time escaping the Patriots-Bengals two-team parlay, one chain of books in particular managed to do just that. When MGM Resorts sportsbook hub manager Jeff Stoneback was asked how bad the Patriots game was, he had a different response from everyone else.
“No, actually we didn’t lose the Patriots game,” he said. “We took a couple of casino guests’ six figure wagers on the Steelers that helped us avoid losing on what was probably our most one-sided game with tickets written.”
However, all the visitors at his 10 books across the Strip were all over the Browns and there were no whales to balance things out.
“The one really bad game we had was the Bengals.”
The MGM books were one of the few to show a solid profit on the day.
“Our big wins on the day were the Eagles (+3 vs. Vikings), Jets (-2 vs. Ravens), Lions (+1 vs. Redskins) and Buccaneers (+1.5 at San Francisco),” Stoneback said. “The Colts beating the Titans (-4) were almost in that same category.”
Wise guys maneuvered strong throughout the week taking aim at all four games hovering around the key number of 3, taking both sides at optimal prices, which put the bookmakers in sweat mode in at least one of those when the Titans had a 23-20 lead with two minutes left. Wise guys had bet the Titans heavy at -2.5, -3 and -3.5, but the Colts had other sharp groups taking +3.5. Indianapolis allowed the books to rest easy in the closing moments of a 34-26 win. The underdog ended up winning three of those games.
The Sunday night game with the Cardinals (-2.5) and Seahawks, which ended up a 6-6 draw at Arizona, was also a mixed bag around town.
William Hill reported they’d break even on the day if Seattle covered, while Station would drop down to a very small winner with them. CG Technology VP of risk management Jason Simbal said they needed Seattle to complete a good day.
Stoneback said his books didn’t have too big of a decision with either Arizona or Seattle, but he was already sweating the Monday night risk.
“We’re in a bad spot with Denver Monday night, not only because of all the individual wagers on them throughout the week, but we’ve got a couple of huge parlays live going into that game,” he said. “We took a few $10,000 and $5,000 parlays that had the Packers on Thursday night with a few Saturday (college football) games that are all live with the Broncos money-line.”
The Broncos opened up as 6.5-point home favorites against the Texans and have been bet up to as high as -9 – mostly to protect against teasers once the spread reached -8. Stoneback is trying to limit risk by offering the most attractive money-line price in town with the Texans at +330.
“We’re like 30 or 20 cents higher than anyone else on the Texans money-line but haven’t had any takers.”
Epic World Series
The reason why baseball is the best of all the sports is simply because it’s embedded in the fabric of our country’s young history. So when seeing a team that hasn’t won the World Series since 1948, like the Indians, facing a team like the Cubs that hasn’t won it since 1908, it’s kind of a big deal.
No other American sport has anything like it, and somewhere along the way with this match-up we all can find something that strikes our fancy, not just as baseball fans, but as Americans. I can’t wait for the first pitch, and I can’t wait for friends and family who have long supported each team to go through a roller coaster of emotions over the next week.
Although it pains me to have to pick a side, I have to because I want action to just accentuate my fantastic week of viewing ahead.
The Indians have done an amazing job winning 10 of its last 11 games, but I don’t see how they can match up game after game against the Cubs’ starting rotation in a seven game series. Not having Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco really puts the Indians at a disadvantage.
The angle I like coming out of the gate is Corey Kluber and Jon Lester to have a nice duel and keeping the game Under. The Indians have stayed under the total in their last seven games.
In Game 2, I’d expect Josh Tomlin to get the nod again and he’s had a re-birth of sorts from his April and May excellence after slumping hard in August. That looks like another Under.
Game 3 I’d look for an Over with Jake Arrieta and Trevor Bauer and then who knows what we’ll see after that because Kluber is likely to pitch again like he did in the ALCS.
Because of the Kluber factor allowing only six runs combined over his last five starts, I expect Cleveland to win at least one game, but the Cubs’ destiny is just a few decades more pronounced.