Last week we saw the preseason Super Bowl favorite Green Bay Packers odds raised to 16-to-1 after losing at Indianapolis, dropping their record to 2-3. The Bears were made the 6-5 favorite to win the NFC Central while the Packers were given 3-2.
It was apparent something was wrong with the Packers, but no one could quite pinpoint it. Not even the Packers themselves. Was it Aaron Rodgers showing a lack of confidence, the offensive-line showing a lack of blocking, a lack of a running game, or a defense that couldn’t bear down late in games?
It was likely a little bit of all of the above.
But Sunday night at Houston, the Packers we remember from their Super Bowl run two years ago that rolled to a 15-1 record in 2011, showed up again. They met the No. 2 rated NFL team, the Texans, and took them behind the wood shed for a 42-24 beating. All their frustrations and angst from this season were wiped away with a career six TD passes from Rodgers.
While the Packers rating may have dropped a few points in the sports books’ minds, bettors weren’t ready to jump off the bandwagon just yet and rode them for the long haul – kind of like the roulette player who keeps doubling up on black after a succession of red rolls.
Recreational bettors’ thought process was that the Packers would eventually snap out of their funk and the Texans – as 3½-point favorites – were the perfect team to pick on. Houston had helped bettors cash tickets in four of their five games, while the Packers had covered only one of five, but the opportunity of getting points with the Packers was too good to pass up.
It’s a good thing they finally jumped on an underdog on the day after getting crushed in the early games, where favorites went 2-9 against-the-spread. Some sports books estimate they gave back up to 30 percent of their huge win on the day with the Packers and OVER combination coming in.
The books had built the bank up with huge stacks of cash through 11 games, but then gave back a huge piece of the pie. While the Packers apparently hold a soft spot in bettors’ hearts, they also might be getting wiser that the underdogs are the current trend to follow.
On the season now, the dogs have gone 57-32-1 ATS, an unbelievable figure that is hard to ignore, showing that any team can be beaten on any Sunday or Thursday, like when the perceived awful Titans knocked off the Steelers 26-23.
The home underdog has been even a better buy for bettors this season going 22-11 ATS with the Seahawks, Browns and Redskins all getting straight-up wins.
The Seahawks’ impressive win over the Patriots as 3½-point underdogs was the game that ultimately stamped a winning day in the sports books’ ledgers. The game that got the ball rolling in the sports book favor was the Raiders covering 9½ at Atlanta, losing 23-20.
So far over six weeks the sports books have been killing the public with a record of 5-0-1 against them during the NFL season. We’ll call Week 4 a push just because there were mixed results around town.
If we throw college football into the mix, the books have been almost as good going 5-1-1. Saturday was a small win to a push at most books with the favorites going 26-23-1 ATS. The big win of the day was West Virginia falling 49-14 as 4-point favorites at Texas Tech.
Depending on what point of a view you want to look at, the good news is that the action is still coming in stronger than ever. Despite bettors getting beat up every week they keep coming back for more and firing away on the next option available with renewed hope. It is part of what made the Packers game such a huge blow for the books – and you have to love that type of fighting spirit.
This week we have four home underdogs bettors should take a serious look at. Before just blindly betting the favorites of Green Bay, Dallas, New Orleans or Pittsburgh this week, at least go through a thought process that has you considering the home team.
Yes, the Packers did look awesome, the Panthers have been terrible and the Bengals have taken a major step backwards, but that was the same perception most had with Tennessee, Cleveland and Seattle last week.
It’s tough to win laying points on the road, this year more so than ever.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].