Sunday was perhaps the most exciting day the Las Vegas sports books and their guests have experienced since March Madness.
The books did okay with the overall win and the handle was big, but the real thrill for everyone was the environment created by two magical moments in two other cities that turned thousands of sure losing tickets into winners.
We can go years in between waiting for fantastic finishes to turn a stone cold loser into a winner at the bet windows, and most of the time it seems like the “I can’t believe it” moments happen against us late in a game so our bets lose in dramatic fashion.
On Sunday there were a couple of classic pick-sixes in the closing of the Broncos-Jets and Redskins-Cardinals games that padded a lead enough for the favorites to cover the number and send both games OVER their totals, which were very popular combinations for the majority.
The Broncos were ripe for an upset on Sunday and everyone holding a ticket with them, laying as high as -10, knew it the first quarter when witness to a sluggish version of the team that looked close to the way they played the last time at Metlife Stadium.
Up 24-17 late in the fourth quarter, Denver was chewing four minutes off the clock, but was forced to punt giving the Jets one more chance to try and tie, which basically was the end of any miracle the many Broncos bettors had at covering.
But the good news was the punt pinned the Jets on their own 5-yard line. And then Geno Smith got sacked for a 4-yard loss. Wow, maybe a safety could help those push who bet Denver laying the 9 and win for the others who wagered early when the line was -7.5 to -8.5.
“When the Jets had the ball down at their 1-yard line with a safety possibility, we were all going through how bad a 9-point Broncos win would be for us,” said Westgate LV Super Book executive director Jay Kornegay. “Then Geno threw the interception and when (Aqib) Talib started running it back, you could feel the energy in the room getting ready to explode. When he scored, it was like 6.2 on the Richter scale.”
Final: Broncos 31-24.
“It was our biggest decision of the morning, and for a while there, with the way most of the early games were going for us, I felt like I was on the Titanic and I could hear the violins playing in the background,” Kornegay said.
That was the boiling point for most books, as bettors had done extremely well with Denver/OVER as well as the Packers, Patriots and Ravens covering. If the four late games went well for the public, the books would be looking at a Black Sunday and most of the action was all piling into the Chargers laying 7.5 at Oakland.
But the books would do very well with the Raiders showing up in a 31-28 loss, a game they had the chance to win. They would also clean up with Seattle losing, 30-23, to the visiting Cowboys because Seattle was the last big teaser game.
Many high paying teasers remaining from the day were all waiting for the Seahawks to win by 3. The Bears upset the Falcons and the only game remaining that would be a clean sweep in the afternoon for the books was the Redskins to cover +5.5 at Arizona.
Arizona had a 23-20 lead with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth and the Redskins had the ball at their own 14-yard line. What could possibly go wrong?
How about another pick-6 to cover for the favorite! Kirk Cousins got intercepted by Rashad Johnson who returned it 28-yards for a score to make it Arizona 30-20, which also sent the total OVER 47 points.
“That was a terrible swing for us,” said MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood. “Both of them were bad. The swing with the Broncos covering and going OVER cost us about $300,000 and the Arizona TD cost us another $200,000. Two plays, in almost identical situations cost us half-a-million…unbelievable.”
Bettors have already endeared themselves to the Cardinals this season and that play and gift cover will take them up a notch in favorite teams to bet on by the public.
The Broncos gift cover only strengthens their firm hold as being No. 2 most popular. Even though the Chargers failed to cover last week, they’re still 5-1 ATS and 6-0 on teasers, and have become Las Vegas bettors’ favorite team to wager on.
Week 6 passing grade: Yes, it’s safe to say the Cowboys can run on anyone and they are for real. Who goes into Seattle and rushes for 162 yards? The Dallas Cowboys do and their rating improves by at least 1.5-points with the validating win.
The Patriots also showed their improvements aren’t phony with their 37-22 win at Buffalo, a game that was much closer than the score indicates. The Raiders definitely have something to be hopeful about with Derek Carr. The rookie throws a nice deep ball with touch that Al Davis would have been proud of.
World Series matchup: If needing any sign to tell you who was going to meeting the World Series, you might look at the home run production in the postseason where St. Louis has a playoff high 11 homers through six games. The Royals are right behind them with eight.
The funny thing about both of those teams is they each went 162 games on the regular season as the worst home run hitting teams. The Cardinals only hit 105 while the Royals hit just 95. They got to the postseason without homers, and now their crushing it making it easier for them.
The best-of-seven League Championship Series format started 29 years ago and there have been 11 cases like Baltimore where the home team lost the first two games at home, and none of them came back to win.
That first year of the best-of-seven LCS is also the last time Kansas City made the playoffs before this season, and they eventually went on to beat the Cardinals, 4-3, in the I-70 World Series. You think the Cardinals will let Don Denkinger throw out the first pitch if this series happens again?
Although I’m rooting for the Giants again in an even year, I think the most attractive series would be a battle of Missouri with hopes of a repeat thriller like 1985. Plus, if it happens, I know I’ll be able to say the name Buddy Biancalana just once. I love that name.
2015 WS up at Wynn: Johnny Avello wasted no time in posting odds to win the 2015 World Series with the Angels as the 7/1 favorite followed by the Dodgers and Nationals each at 8/1. All three of those teams were disposed of as favorites in the divisional round.
The teams still alive this postseason have odds as follows: Cardinals 9/1, Orioles 10/1, Giants 11/1 and Royals 16/1. The best longshot on the board might be the Miami Marlins at 50/1. They seem to win every few years out of nowhere and they have some serious talent to boot.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].