NFL's dogs have their day!

Oct 20, 2009 5:06 PM
NFL Notebook by Micah Roberts |

It doesn’t get any better for the sports books than week six of NFL action. In a climate that has seen the big favorites cover week after week, the swing back to underdogs finally happened with some of the worst teams in football coming up big on Sunday.

"We had a pretty good day," said MGM MIRAGE Director of Race and Sports Jay Rood. "One of our biggest games of the day was when the Chiefs beat the Redskins straight up."

The Redskins loss to the Chiefs a -6½-point favorite was one of many upsets on the day that included a 14-point dog, and a 10-point dog all getting beat straight-up.

When upsets occur in the fashion they did Sunday, the book does extremely well on all types of bets beyond the standard point spread. Between teasers being eliminated and chalk money line plays going down the drain, there is nothing better than the big upset.

On Sunday, there were quite a few. Overall there were five straight-up underdog winners on a day when the favorites went a combined 5-8 against the spread.

The biggest upset of the day occurred when the 14-point underdog Raiders beat the Eagles 13-9 and the 10-point favored Jets lost 16-13 to the Bills. Beyond the upsets, the teams that won but didn’t cover really helped the books.

"Two of our biggest parlay games of the day were Pittsburgh and Green Bay," Rood said. "When Cleveland covered, it wiped out a lot of our extended parlay risk."

The biggest loss of the day for MGM-MIRAGE happened in a game that might appear to have little interest.

"We got a lot of game day money on Houston +5," said Rood after the Texans had upset the Bengals 28-17.

The Bengals had opened as a -3½-point favorite and had been bet up to -5½ at some places through the week, but the trend on Sunday was the Texans.

The Falcons game was not a good decision to close out the day for the books. What limited parlay build-up they had through the day all came to cash when the Falcons beat the Bears 21-14, covering the spread that opened -3 and closed -4 by kickoff.

Saints are Marching!

We’ve all be waiting for the Saints’ stereotype of being soft on each side of the line, but so far it hasn’t happened. The Saints have gone up against two of the NFL’s toughest lines, once at Philadelphia and last week with the Giants, and slapped a 48-spot on each of them.

Could it be that the Saints really are that good? Safe to say, yes, they are very good. How long it lasts will be seen. Good teams come and go in phases throughout the year. It’s a long season with lots of trends, but to give a team like the Giants, one that was perceived as being among the best teams in football, a complete non-stop pounding for 48 points in 48 minutes is a pretty impressive feat.

The remainder of the Saints’ schedule is very favorable and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make a run at 16-0. Their toughest road game will be in Atlanta on Dec. 13 and their toughest games at the Superdome, where they look invincible, are the Patriots, Cowboys and Falcons again.

By already having defeated two of the top teams in the NFC, it’s looking like their road to the Super Bowl could be very smooth for the Saints. Bettors and fans everywhere have fallen in love with the team because they cover the spread every week. Bookmakers can’t make the line high enough, and if it was hard attracting money on the Giants, how does anyone presume on getting action with anyone else?

Following the win over the Giants on Sunday, the Saints had been dropped to 4-to-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl and 2-to-1 to win the NFC.

Total Move of the Week

With news of possible bad weather in the New England area, the initial total of 43½ in the Titans-Patriots game dropped quickly to 40 on Friday and by game day closed at 38. Most of the moves were adjustments by the books based on the forecast rather than a huge money move. Those that did get their bets in on the sliding under were finished by halftime as the Patriots put up 45 points en route to the Patriots 59-0 win.

Haven for the Winless

For the sixth consecutive week the Washington Redskins played a winless team and for the fourth time, they gave their opponent their first win of the season. Four weeks ago the Redskins let the Lions into the win column for the first time since 2007. Two weeks ago they gave the Panthers their first and then last week allowed the Chiefs to join the party.

The only winless teams remaining are the Titans, Buccaneers and Rams. To give the Redskins a little credit, they did beat both the Rams and the Bucs for their only two wins of the season. It gets a lot tougher for the Skins from here on out. They play the Eagles and Cowboys a few times, along with the Giants, Saints, Broncos, Chargers and Falcons. Things could get a lot worse for Jim Zorn’s squad before they get better.

Jets Flying Low

Rex Ryan and the New York Jets came out firing on the season with lots of brash talk and confidence and started out 3-0 with expectations of grandeur. They called out the New England Patriots on all fronts and came through much to the delight of the New York media and fans. Since that high point of beating the Patriots, the Jets have fallen on tough times by losing their last three, including last week’s embarrassing loss to the Bills in which rookie Mark Sanchez looked like a rookie throwing five interceptions.

Game Ball

All questions about Tom Brady should have been answered with his efforts in the snow against the Titans Sunday. In one quarter alone, he set an NFL record with 5 TD passes as the Patriots took a 45-0 lead into the half. He came out for one series in the second half and threw his sixth TD making him easily the player of the week.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts