The most alarming revelation in the NFL’s Week 8 action wasn’t sportsbooks rapidly adjusting to three questionable starting QB situations. Nor was it the crazy totals being altered from fall weather conditions in two eastern locations.
No, the big news was how the 49ers dismantled the Panthers, 51-13.
Since Cam Newton went out with a foot injury in Week 2, the Panthers had won and covered four straight games behind backup QB Kyle Allen. But on Sunday he gave up the first interception of his career and lost his first start since filling in at the end of last season.
Newton has said he’s ready to come back. But besides the drama of whether the Panthers want him back in the starting lineup or not is the story of how the 49ers looked like a Super Bowl team.
You always know by how a team performs early on in the season that looks like a Super Bowl team who wasn’t thought of being on so in the pre-season whether it’s Kurt Warner’s Rams or Carson Wentz’s Eagles. But Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ fierce defense is making a quick impression that they are definitely super and their odds are dropping to win the NFC and Super Bowl.
“We lowered the 49ers to win the Super Bowl last week from 8-1 to 6-1, but we also got some professional play on the 49ers to win the NFC at 5-1,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “We’re a loser right now if the 49ers make the Super Bowl.”
The 49ers moved to 7-0 on the season for only the second time in franchise history and they’re now 5-2 against-the-spread. Sunday’s beatdown of the Panthers gave them a huge rating boost, but they’re still not the top-rated team in the NFC.
“The Saints are probably still the best in the NFC right now (rating-wise to make spreads), but I just don’t see anyone else standing out in the conference between those two,” said CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso.
I’m with Tony here because my personal updated ratings with the Saints getting Drew Brees back into action has the Saints (107.5 rating) 1.5-points higher than the rapidly rising 49ers (105.5) with the Patriots (109) being No. 1 in the NFL. But the 49ers’ actual rating is still an unknown because they have risen from a 100.0 rating at the start of the year. No team, good or bad, has risen so rapidly — maybe the Dolphins’ decrease (87.0). The 49ers are for real and who knows how high they can climb if they keep burying good opponents.
“As I get into this time of year I take the futures down shortly after the early games kick off and then I regroup on Monday morning,” said DiTommaso, who had the 49ers at 10-1 to win the Super Bowl and 4-1 to win the NFC.
The Week 8 story with the 49ers was a sharp-public divide on the game. Sharps chomped up the points with the Panthers riding a five-game winning steak while the public threw the reliable 49ers on the majority of their parlays.
“The 49ers were one of those teams that were popular on the parlays but we took large action on the Panthers from one of our (house) players,” Stoneback said. “He took the Panthers for three separate six-figure bets at +4.5, and +4 earlier in the week and then came back for some more +4 later.”
But that large action couldn’t offset the risk of small play on parlay siding with the 49ers, Rams, and Patriots paying out at 6-1 odds, It was a very popular combination.
Then things got worse Sunday night when the Packers (-6) beat the Chiefs, 31-24, in the late game generating 10-1 payouts on a four-teamer. No matter how the day goes despite those four public teams, the book can’t beat the odds and bettors finally got something back after being pummeled the past three weeks.
”We could not escape (popular parlay teams),” said Wynn sportsbook director Doug Castaneda. ”The Patriots packed the final punch on those public favorites.”
The Patriots’ 27-13 home win against the Browns was aided by the Browns turning the ball over in three consecutive first-play possessions during the first quarter that led to a 17-0 Patriots lead. The spread dropped from Patriots -12 to -10 and the total dropped from 46.5 to 42.5 due to the wicked sheets of rain. A few sharps played the Browns, but the masses were on the Patriots.
Then there was the Rams’ 24-10 win against the Bengals (+11.5) in London, a cover which looked to in jeopardy, but the Rams came out ahead which pushed them to 6-2 ATS this season. The Rams have the look of falling through the cracks with questionable QB play, but they keep covering the number.
But the defining moment of how Las Vegas fared came in the late game where the Packers were as high as 6-point favorites at Kansas City who were playing without Patrick Mahomes
“Big risk tonight,” said William Hill’s chief bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich before kickoff of the late game, “If the Chiefs show up we’ll be a small winner.”
The Chiefs did show up, and despite backup QB Matt Moore looking good it was Aaron Rodgers who made the winning plays late to send the Packers to a 7-1 record and a cover.
“We had a small win in the morning and it was looking like the Sunday night game wouldn’t affect our bottom line too much, but then we got a late six-figure on the Packers laying -5,” Stoneback said.
The high numbers on the Packers during the week were seen at -6 at the South Point and Caesars Palace after it was confirmed Mahomes would not play. The Packers were originally -4.5 until Mahomes was throwing in limited action during practice which dropped the line to -3.5 for a stretch until confirmations could be heard on his status.
There were a couple of other games like the Chiefs game with QB issues the books had to protect against in the information game with the status of Matt Ryan and Drew Brees not entirely known.
Brees said Wednesday he would start and the Westgate SuperBook reacted with that piece of news to adjust their lines which started at Saints -7.5 on Sunday, adjusted to -9.5 on Monday and after the Brees quote up to -10.5. They closed at -12, after three moves up the ladder on Saturday.
The Saints would dominate time of possession and Brees showed no signs of his injured thumb be a problem in a 31-9 win aided by his 373 yards passing and three TDs.
Ryan’s information came a little slower. The SuperBook opened the Seahawks as 3.5-point road favorites on their early lines last Wednesday but took the game off the board after he got injured in last week’s blowout loss to the Rams,.They regrouped with Seahawks -7 on Saturday and closed at -7.5.
The Falcons ended up getting the late backdoor cover with a Matt Bryant field goal in a 27-20 loss.
Overall, favorites went 7-6 ATS against the spread on Sunday with the under going 7-6. The bottom line is that the public has withstood the storm and countless ATM withdrawals and their day to bury the books is coming.