Everyone loves a good comeback story, which is why we always enjoy some variation of the little guy making good at the end of a movie or book.
It’s inspirational, uplifting and makes us feel good about the possibilities we all have within ourselves to persevere against the odds of a system stacked against us. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Rocky Balboa, Billy Jack or even Return of the Jedi, we all can’t get enough of that type of feel-good story that avenges some past wounds.
Here in Las Vegas, we had a story of vengeance fulfilled and pride restored as the bettors finally got the best of the sports book in Week 4 of NFL action. The first three weeks got progressively worse for the players. Week 3 was the point in a typical Hollywood script where you felt the most sympathy for the character wronged.
The evil tyrant is the Las Vegas sports book. But there was no back story involving mischief by the book like a power hungry mayor squeezing upon his small town citizens. Bettors could have just as easily bet the winning side over the first three weeks just as they did the losing side. But it’s a hard sell.
The recreational bettor loves to play favorites. They can’t help it, whether it’s a straight bet, point-spread parlay, money-line parlay or teaser. In all facets during Week 3, they got crushed by the sports books. It may be a lousy strategy to side with the favorites weekly, butit’s hard to change habits, especially when a few teams in the past have produced nice consistent pay days.
In Week 4, instead of jumping off the wagon on a few teams, bettors tried a new strategy by cautiously playing some of their favorite teams on the money-line and teasers. The payouts are less, but it helped them all exact revenge and force the books to feel some of the pain.
The root of all strategies began with taking the Patriots laying 4-points at Buffalo and the 49ers laying 4½ at the Jets. While it looked like the Bills would provide another upset the sports books have been ringing in the cash register with all season – up 21-7 early in the third-quarter, the Patriots showed their faithful some of the magic they all remembered from days of yesteryear in a 52-28 blowout.
The 49ers have been one of the top bet teams all season, and despite losing last week at Minnesota, bettors stayed the course and rode out the mini-storm. And it paid off as the 49ers thoroughly dominated the Jets 34-0.
From there, the rest of the Sunday was gravy. In addition to 13-to-5 odds being paid on parlays from the Patriots and 49ers to almost everyone, the two teams started an avalanche of larger parlays and teasers.
The game that gave long life to money-line parlays and teasers on the day was the Falcons’ 30-28 win against the Panthers. The Falcons were a popular choice laying 7, which didn’t cover, but their link to the rest of the day on money-line parlays and teasers assured the books that they were in a no-win situation.
When you throw in the Broncos’ 37-6 win over the Raiders and the Texans’ 38-14 victory over the Titans, the liability just continued to grow. The books had the all-way teaser payouts – both sides and both totals – on the Cardinals 24-21 over the Dolphins and the Redskins 24-22 win at Tampa Bay.
The only hope the sports books had of salvaging something at the end of the day was the Eagles covering 2½ at home against the Giants. As fate would have it, the Eagles won, 19-17. The UNDER was good for the house, but the Eagles 2-point win was the defining blow.
Overall, the weekend was awful for the sports books, and it wasn’t just the NFL. Saturday’s college football action was sort of a push with small winners or losers around town, a big change from the consistent win through the first four weeks of action.
Perhaps the worst part for the books has been the daily losses in baseball as the big favorites seem to be getting there, not just on the money-line, but on the run-line as well. The only silver lining has been that baseball has been on the back-burner ever since football started.
Had baseball been front and center like it was in July, with these type of favorites coming in, Saturday and Sunday would have been an absolute blood bath for the books.
Each week the wind seems to blow in a different direction, but let what happened in NFL Week 4 be a friendly reminder of how to beat the books. NFL teasers pay less than college because the spreads are sharper and more dependable. When you can add 6 to 7 points on any of the pro lines, you’re getting the best of the value.
Also, two-team parlays are the extent of where real value lies within the parlays, unless we’re discussing several line moves on a stale parlay card in your favor. Week 5 has some great opportunities, go get ’em, and may the force be with you.
Jets out of Fuel
When watching Mark Sanchez stink up his own stadium Sunday against the 49ers, you have to wonder what is going through Coach Rex Ryan’s mind. Most of us figured at some point that Tim Tebow would be taking over the helm as starting quarterback for the Jets, but no one figured that he would be treated like some kind of pariah through the first four weeks.
When Ryan brought in Tebow, he talked openly about all the things he would bring to the Jets in key short-yardage situations and his skills inside the red zone, all attributes he has yet to utilize. He’s watched Sanchez week after week struggle in goal line situations and last week may have been the worst.
So the question is, why did Ryan bring in Tebow? There are so many areas offensively – their weak link – that Tebow could improve upon, especially in their running game. Ryan loves to pound the ball on the ground and he hates turnovers, yet he uses Sanchez in every situation and eliminates so much potential by not including Tebow anywhere.
The fear could probably be knowing that once Tebow gets in, there’s no way to take him out because of success, the same type of success John Elway hated in Denver. Ryan loves Tebow, so the problem is probably more deep rooted within the Jets’ executives.
It may take another ineffective week of Sanchez for the entire nation to watch on Monday night against the Texans this week for senses to kick in and say a change is needed. Right now, it looks like their best option to win is by letting Tebow run the show.
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Tebow in the spread option is hard to defend and above all, he’s a winner. The Jets could sure use some of that right now.
Micah Roberts is a former race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].