The Las Vegas sports books had a winning weekend that was spurred on by a couple of big upsets, one from the college game and one from the NFL. In each case, the upset knocked down the most popular betting choices of the day, which was the root of the most popular parlays on the day.
Stanford's 21-14 victory over Southern California as a nine-point home 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 highly-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 that played Stanford on the money-line, they were rewarded with a +320 payout (Bet $100 to win $320). The only other big game of the day the sports books won on was Pittsburgh beating Virginia Tech as a 10 ½-point home 'dog which paid +350 (Bet $100 to win $350) on the money-line.
Overall in college, the favorites went 22-20-3 against the spread on the regular and added board with eight of the underdogs winning outright.
Sunday turned out a little better thanks to the Arizona Cardinals beating the New England Patriots 20-18 as 13 ½-point underdogs at Foxboro. Not only were the Patriots the center-piece of the most popular parlays wagered, but they also were the most bet teaser team and some gamblers threw them in money-line parlays, which some people like to bet.
When the New Orleans Saints lost as three-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 if the Chargers, Steelers and 49ers covered later in the day, which they all did.
The biggest losses in the morning games came from the Ravens covering in a 24-23 loss at Philadelphia and the Texans easily winning 27-7 as seven-point road favorites at Jacksonville.
The books went 2-2 against the public in the afternoon games, the biggest win coming from the Rams beating the Redskins 31-28 as 3 ½-point home underdogs. The Redskins were a popular choice by both sharp and small money. While we marvel at rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, there are plenty of bettors that are sick of him already because they've lost two straight weeks with him. Last week, the big public team was the Saints and Griffin made their bets losers. This week they jumped on the Griffin wagon and once again, they were losers.
There weren't many takers with the Titans at San Diego, and they were wise to stay away as the Chargers rolled 38-10 in perhaps the easiest win of the day, next to Buffalo's 35-17 blowout over Kansas City.
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 the Titans. 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 as seven-point underdogs 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 press their profits, or lost and are trying 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 win 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 the covered also won outright, including five home 'dogs. The lone home underdog that didn't win was Jacksonville.