The most wagered upon game of the NFL Week 12 schedule was the highly anticipated meeting between Peyton’s Broncos and Brady’s Patriots.
Because the game was so evenly wagered across the board by bettors, it didn’t have the most risk attached to it, even though it was the final of the 12 games played on Sunday. So when the Patriots pulled off a 34-31 overtime win as 2-point underdogs, several books showed differing decisions.
The differing also had to do with the total where under normal circumstances two teams like the Broncos and Patriots would have close to 75 percent of the action bet on the OVER (54.5). But because of the 20 mph winds and a wind chill at around 13 degrees, the UNDER was found equally attractive and had several takers.
When the final result of the day was posted (favorites 4-8 against the spread with six of the underdogs winning outright) the consensus around town was the day was a wash.
It’s unusual for the books to have a break even day when the favorites fall like they did on Sunday, but the sharp money fared very well. After all the public parlays were tallied up at the end, showing a small profit for the house, the sharp side bets took much of that win away.
The game that swung the pendulum against the sports books was a matchup no one on either side of the counter would have probably guessed when the lines were posted at the beginning of the week.
Each week when a sports book posts their numbers, they quickly make a mental note of what games are going to be big for them and what sides they’ll likely need. Most of the time they’re dead on with the most popular games, but every once in a while one seems to pop out of nowhere that ends up incurring the most risk.
The Titans-Raiders tilt in Oakland evolved into that surprise game that ended up being one-sided by both the public and sharp money.
No one wanted the Raiders and everyone got paid when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Kendall Wright for a 10-yard TD pass with 10 seconds remaining to give the Titans a 23-19 win.
It wasn’t the most wagered upon game, but it ended up showing up for most as the biggest loss. The Titans opened up as 1-point road favorites and closed at -3 by kickoff, which was movement all from sharp money.
Where the losses really start to mount on the game is by the public jumping on board, and that’s the odd part. Why would the public have such a fascination with the 4-6 Titans?
Much of the reason can be attributed to the time the game kicked off and the amount of wagering opportunities every bettor in the packed sports books across the city had to choose from.
After the early wave of games, there were only three to wager on in the afternoon. Sharp money sided with the Cardinals (-3 -120) at home against the Colts, while the public sided slightly with the Colts.
The Cowboys and Tony Romo had just as much support from the betting public as the Giants (-2½), but the one team everyone seemed to be universally loading up for in their second round of betting was the Titans.
The Tennessee result was also the second to last game posted of the afternoon wave, which helped several parlays cash in from games played earlier in the day. Some of the more popular plays on the day the public had mixed in parlays were the Ravens (-3½), who throttled the Jets, 19-3, and the Steelers (+2½) at Cleveland.
Some sharp money played the Browns, but just over 70 percent of the parlay action had the Steelers, and it got there easy with a 27-11 win.
When looking back on how the day turned out, most books have to consider themselves fortunate the Panthers didn’t cover the number (-4½) at Miami, because that was the most popular public team all week heading into Sunday.
It didn’t matter that the line was inflated by almost 2½ points because Carolina had covered six straight and everyone just saw them beat the Patriots on Monday night. The high spread saved the books and most bettors got hooked as the Panthers’ late touchdown gave them a 20-16 win.
The two biggest upsets of the day didn’t necessarily help the books either. Sharp money was on the Buccaneers at Detroit, pushing the line from the Lions being a 9-point favorite down to -7. The Buccaneers were covering the entire way and came away with a 24-21 victory that paid +300 on the money line to the few bettors who sided that way.
The biggest money line payout of the day had the Jaguars as 10½-point road underdogs at Houston winning outright, 13-6, with the Jacksonville money line set at +450. Again, not many had it.
For those feeling good about the Jaguars and Bucs winning outright, a two-team money line parlay paid 21-1.
On the season, since we can call Week 12 a push, the sports books are 9-1-2 against the bettors as they head into one of the most volatile weekends of the year.
While everyone is talking about Black Friday in other contexts, in the sports book world, Thanksgiving weekend can turn out to be a real blood bath if things start rolling the bettors’ way.
The Thursday NFL games are like having three Monday night football games and if they don’t at least split on the six decisions – side-total of all three, those games attached to Friday, Saturday and Sunday games mushroom into being a titanic inferno of risk.
Bowl contests coming: I’m hearing two different properties will be having a college football bowl contest with announcements coming soon. The two properties will be running their own contest, and not attached with anyone else, which makes it attractive because of less contestants to have to beat to win whatever prize money is offered.
As soon as those details come, I will pass along. Can you believe we’re already talking about bowl season? Where did 2013 go?
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].