Winners & losers

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The Las Vegas sports books got a San Francisco treat Sunday thanks to Pete Carroll and his Seahawks blasting the 49ers 31-6 in the late afternoon games; with all the action and parlay cards, had the 49ers won, it would have been a dark day to kick off what was supposed to be a festive weekend for everyone involved.

The other main public games of the day with the Titans, Dolphins and Packers had already come in with many of the other games getting mixed two-way action.

 

“The Seahawks really saved us,” said Las Vegas Hilton Super Book Executive Director Jay Kornegay. “We did okay in the morning games, but the Packers game was a big decision that didn’t go our way, making the 49ers game pretty important heading into the night game.”

 

The Dolphins game was heavily bet by the public on parlays and they were sitting on the spread with a 13-10 lead late in the fourth quarter when Bills long snapper Garrison Sanborn snapped the ball out of bounds for a safety. The 15-10 margin either immediately made much of the public winners or set the stage for the late showdown for a big payday on three and four team parlays.

 

“We really didn’t need that safety,” said Kornegay in somewhat of a joking, but serious tone.

 

The first nine games of the day still showed a small profit for the day, but the perfect storm was brewing with a huge risk tied to both the Packers and 49ers.

 

“It looked as though we might have been helped a bit with a Michael Vick miracle,” said MGM Resorts Race and Sports Director Jay Rood. “He came really close.”

 

The Packers were favored by 3 points all week and while there wasn’t any sharp risk involved in the game, nearly 85% of the ticket counts on the game had the Packers. It looked like Green Bay would walk away with an easy win, but Vick made it interesting with some sharp passing and running, looking like the old Vick for the first time since his Falcons days.

The one saving grace for the day, the difference between a small winning day and being close to a push, rested with the Seahawks. Nearly 75% of all tickets bet on that game had the 49ers and it was the final leg of many folks’ parlays, making the risk much greater for the game than the actual win would be.

The Cowboys losing to Washington in the late game would be the cherry on top of a decent first week of pro football for the sports books. Whether the late penalty occurred or not, negating a Cowboys touchdown as time expired, the books would do well simply because Dallas wouldn’t cover the 3½-points and the game stayed under 40 points.

The first week of action was fair and balanced for everyone involved. The bettors won a little bit and the house kept a little bit equivalent, or just a little higher, to what the juice is for betting a straight game. Neither side was buried, which is a good thing and keeps the cycle of interest going with confidence heading into week two action.

Thursday night Middle

The first week of the NFL season officially started last Thursday in New Orleans, but it was a little over a month when everyone was wondering what was going to happen with the Brett Favre saga in Minnesota. Would he stay, or would he go? The Las Vegas sports books played the game along the way, as Favre’s decision was unknown through multiple false reports of his intentions, adjusting a week one opening line that opened as far back as April 29 with the Super Bowl champion Saints being a solid 4-point home favorite to take the Vikings in a rematch of the NFC title game.

The line got as high as -6½-points at many books as they bobbed and weaved through all the smoke signals and tweets of misinformation until finally settling at -4½ leading into this week. The public money came in support of the Saints early in the week with enough cumulatively to count for a worthy move to -5 and at some places, eventually -5½ by Wednesday.

The final result, thanks to a missed point after attempt, was Saints 14-9, which made most of the bettors push on either side, and kept parlays alive heading into the first week of games. For some books that offer ties-win parlay cards, both sides won with the forever dead number of “5” on each side and had the most heavily bet game of the week with both sides active for Sunday‘s games.

Quarterbacks Injured

Matt Stafford hurt his shoulder in last week’s Bears game and is questionable for Sunday’s against the Eagles. Should Stafford be unable to go, Shaun Hill will take over the reigns. Panthers quarterback Matt Moore left the Giants game with a head injury after an unproductive afternoon. Should the league and team’s cautious approach occur like they did last year and rest Moore, enter rookie Jimmy Clausen into the mix. Clausen actually looked better in preseason than Moore. The Eagles’ Kevin Kolb also had concussion symptoms in the first half of their game against the Packers with Michael Vick taking over. Prior to being injured, Kolb was only able to complete 5 short passes for 24 yards.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

On this list we’ll just stick with all of our ugly teams from last year and maybe add a new tenant to the building with the Bills 166 yards of offense in a home opener by the Bills suggests that they may be comfortable with losing like that. If you can’t get jazzed for an opener then you probably won’t anywhere. I liked what I saw out of the Rams with Sam Bradford. He may be okay this season if he can get a few wide-outs to hang onto the ball. The Browns are improved and gained 340 yards of offense, but Jake Delhomme did throw two picks in the loss at Tampa Bay. The Bucs’ Josh Freeman did a good job in controlling the game late and securing the win.

The Lions played well even without Matt Stafford in the second half and got the cover. They deserved to win and I’m still unsure about whatever that rule is that took away Calvin Johnson’s late score. The Raiders looked bad in their loss but showed signs of improving while the Chiefs play Monday night. Of the seven teams, I feel comfortable that the Browns, Rams, Lions and Bucs will be much more competitive than 2009 and make bettors think twice about what used to be an easy decision of betting against them.

Player of the Week

If you had the NFL’s top passing attack in 2009 but failed to make the playoffs thanks to losing to division rival Indianapolis twice in the fourth-quarter, the only natural thing to do would appear to try the opposite like run more, right? That’s exactly what Gray Kubiak’s offensive game plan was for Sunday’s 34-24 win over the Colts. Matt Shaub only had 17 pass attempts while Arian Foster carried the ball 33 times for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Foster’s big day cemented his status as the Texan’s feature back and could be a prelude of more things to come for a prosperous 2010 season.

No Show of the Week

C.J. Spiller was a back that was supposed to have a big debut Sunday against the Dolphins, but the Bills back rushed for only 6 yards in a 15-10 loss. Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch each had more yards. For fantasy football players, the faith placed on Spiller early in drafts have many already looking for new options via trade or the limited free-agent pool.

This Week’s Games

I like the way Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon plays, but I also Iike him at home better. This week the Steelers head into Nashville to play the Titans and will be a 7-point dog or higher by kickoff. The Titans will have the support of everyone who had them last week along with everyone who saw that Steelers needed overtime to beat the Falcons at home. Look for the Titans to win by 13.

The Derek Anderson era has begun in Arizona and they are 1-0; take that Matt Leinart. But before we start to think this team is ready for the Super Bowl again, let’s not forget that they struggled with turnovers and barely beat the Rams last week. Arizona showed me little and I’m feeling pretty good about the Falcons chances of winning by 17 in their home opener.

 

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