NFL upsets fine with books not with sports bettors

Sep 18, 2012 3:00 AM

The Las Vegas sports books had a winning weekend that was spurred on by a couple of big upsets, one from the college games and one in the pros.

For each case, the upset knocked down the most popular betting choices of the day, which was the root of the most-played parlays on the day.

Stanford’s 21-14 win against USC Saturday night as a 9-point underdog was the key to a small Saturday win. Without it, things could have been disastrous because almost everyone had USC played as the last or second-to-last leg of their parlay. With top ranked public favorites like Alabama, LSU, Florida State and South Carolina all covering, USC was going to be a sweet 5-teamer for a lot of bettors.

For the small few who played Stanford on the money line, they were rewarded with a +320 payout. The only other big game of the day the sports books won on was Pittsburgh beating Virginia Tech as a 10½-point home dog, which paid +350 on the money line.

Favorites went 22-20-3 ATS on the regular and added board with eight of the underdogs winning outright.

Sunday turned out a little better thanks to the Cardinals beating the Patriots 20-18 as 13½-point underdogs at Foxborough. Not only were the Patriots the centerpiece of the most popular parlays wagered, but they also were the most wagered teaser team and thrown into the money line parlays some people like to bet.

When the Saints lost as 3-point road favorites at Carolina, the second most wagered upon parlay team, the sports books immediately knew the day should turn out to be a winner – even with the Chargers, Steelers and 49ers covering later in the day.

The biggest losses in the morning games came from the Ravens covering in a 24-23 loss at Philadelphia and the Texans covering 7-points at Jacksonville. 

The books went 2-2 against the public in the afternoon games, the biggest win coming from the Rams beating the Redskins as 3½-point home underdogs. The Redskins were a popular choice by both sharp and small money. While we marvel at Robert Griffin III, there are plenty of bettors that are sick of him already because they’ve lost two straight weeks. In Week 1, the big public team was the Saints and Griffin made those bets losers. Last Sunday they jumped on the Griffin wagon against the Rams, who rallied to win as underdogs.

There weren’t many takers with the Titans at San Diego, and they were wise to stay away as the Chargers rolled 38-10.

The sports books need NFL teams to be competitive on a regular basis and right now they are worrying a bit about the Titans and Jaguars after watching them for two weeks, especially Tennessee. The Raiders don’t look to be in that category yet and the Browns showed some life that may have bettors taking a shot with them, but how do you sell the Titans to anyone?

The day would have been outstanding had the Lions covered the 7 points at San Francisco. They came close, but fell short in a 27-19 loss. Because of it being the last game of the day that always attracts action from those that either won and are trying to up their day’s profits, or lost and attempting to get it back.

Sunday night is always a huge game that can sometimes wipe out a book’s entire win from the early games. Most reports had the 49ers victory taking away about 25% of what they had won from the first 13 games.

Favorites ended up going 5-7-2 ATS on the day with the OVER going 8-6. Six of the seven underdogs won outright, including all five home dogs.

Micah Roberts is a former race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].

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