LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas sports books enjoyed their third largest win of the NFL season on Sunday as popular favorites sputtered to a 5-6 record against-the-spread, including outright losses by a 10.5-point favorite and two other teams considered to be the best in each conference.
"The Rams and Dolphins wins turned out to be our best games, and probably a little more with the Dolphins early just because it eliminated so many parlay and teasers right out the gate. Bettors didn't have any momentum heading into the late games," said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne.
Miami was favored by 2.5 points for their home game against the Chargers, but with the way the public was betting San Diego at a 5-to-2 ratio in parlays, you would have thought San Diego was the favorite. The Dolphins 37-0 drubbing of the Chargers was their third straight win and cover, as well as their third straight game staying UNDER the total (45).
Now, the pubic fascination with the Chargers may be over. After starting the season 5-0 ATS, they have failed to cover their past four games while riding a three-game losing streak.
"We had a pretty good day and our biggest help in getting there was the Rams winning which knocked out teaser and money-line jeopardy with the 49ers," said Jay Rood, MGM Resorts VP of race and sports. "Our morning worked out well too, most of which was helped by the Chargers losing. The public couldn't get enough of San Diego."
San Francisco laying 10.5 at home against St. Louis was the most one-sided bet game of the day with ticket counts on both straight bets and parlays hovering around a 4-to-1 ratio at many books. The 49ers were coming off a bye after getting buried at Denver 42-17 two weeks ago, but had covered at St. Louis the week prior. On Sunday, the 49ers defense did its job by holding the Rams to only 193 yards of offense, but Colin Kaepernick fumbled at the goal line with two seconds remaining to secure the 13-10 St. Louis win, which paid out +450 to the few who took the Rams on the money-line.
The big game of the day between the Broncos (-3) at New England turned out to be a rout with the Patriots rolling to their fifth straight victory (4-1 ATS), 43-21.
"Yeah, that game got away from Denver quickly," said Rood. "I'm still not convinced with the Patriots. They look like they have their act together, but when I look at their talent, which appears subpar from what we've seen in the past, I just don't see them as one of the premier teams, or at least one that will advance far in the playoffs."
Snow swept the New England region Saturday night and just hours before kickoff the field was covered with snow which had sports books rapidly adjusting their totals from 54.5 down to 50.5. But as the snow stopped falling and bettors still wanted the OVER, the total closed at 53.5. It was the Patriots' sixth straight OVER and the Broncos fifth in a row.
Not everything went the books' way as there were a couple gamesthat the sharps and betting public had that negated books from having their best Sunday of the season.
"Our worst games were the Cardinals (+1) winning and the Jaguars (+10.5) covering," said Rood. "We had lots of sharp play on both of those games; a couple of poker guys were heavy on Jacksonville and it took away most of the public play we had which was weighted heavy on Cincinnati. Jacksonville was our biggest loss of the day."
Cincinnati opened as 11.5-point home favorites and struggled to win 33-23 while the Cardinals won at Dallas 28-17 in a game Tony Romo missed because of new back problems incurred in last week's loss to Washington. Osborne had a couple of different games that the public liked a lot.
"The Chiefs (-8.5) and Eagles (-2.5) combination worked out the best for bettors on parlays."
The Arizona Cardinals' 7-1 record is now the best in the NFL, but their rating by most books doesn't reflect being the best as they're still not a top-10 team according to point spreads. However, that's going to change this week.
"The team I've done the most adjusting on has been the Cardinals," said Rood. "We've got them as the fourth choice to win the Super Bowl (8-1) behind Denver, New England and Seattle. I'm sold on them big time. Bruce Arians should win coach of the year just because of all the adversity his team has had to go through between losing several key defenders and using three different quarterbacks, and yet they still keep piling up wins. They could have easily fallen apart when they were down 10-0, but they just played their game and went on to hold DeMarco Murray to under 100 yards for the first time this season."
Murray's NFL record of eight 100-yard games to start a season came to a halt with only 79 yards on 19 carries, which was the 18th straight game the Arizona defense didn't allow an opposing back to gain 100 yards. Once Dallas' bread-and-butter was put in check, Arizona squeezed backup QB Brandon Weeden into making mistakes and forced two interceptions. It was the Cardinals' fourth straight win and cover after getting buried in Denver 41-20 when they played without Carson Palmer.
Because of bettors failing to gain any momentum with all three afternoon games going to the underdogs, including the Raiders (+13.5) surprisingly hanging in there during a 30-24 loss at Seattle, and the 49ers' loss, the featured late game didn't have too much risk attached to it.
"There wasn't too much jeopardy on the Sunday night game," said Rood. "We needed Baltimore a little bit. We had them minus-1 this morning and closed at the Steelers at minus-1.5."
Osborne, a Pittsburgh native, needed Baltimore for a small win as well, but had a big parlay ticket waiting to pop on the Ravens.
"There was one live 10-teamer going to the Ravens that would have paid $20,000 if they covered. We were already a little long on Pittsburgh and got to as high as 2.5 with them, but the game was basically a wash for us."
The Steelers' 43-23 win gave them their third straight victory, cover and OVER. Despite not many expectations after bad losses to Tampa Bay and Cleveland, they are now 6-3 and lately look like one of the crispest offenses in the NFL. For those thinking Super Bowl ring No. 7 and a third for Ben Roethlisberger, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook is offering 20-to-1, which is down from the 30-to-1 they were offering last week.
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