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Books survive, win Week 10
Las Vegas sports books were staring at three double-digit favorites the public were happy to lay and the objective was to at least beat one of those and get the Broncos to cover +7.5 in their home game against the Patriots. None of them lost outright, and New England rolled Denver 41-16, but Indianapolis did manage to cover as an 11-point underdog at home in Pittsburgh's 20-17 win, which helped most books to a winning day.

"Pittsburgh not covering was a good game for us," said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. "The Packers win over the Bears was almost the same good situation for us. We beat down a lot of big money-line parlays with the Bears, but we could have have beat down at least 50 percent of the overall loss if the Steelers has lost."

Stoneback said their large money-line parlay risk on the day was over six figures. It's not seven-figures, but they have quite a few bettors who love laying the big money-line favorites in three-team and four-team parlays. They cashed this week but there were enough underdogs to cover on the day to help the books out, such as the Packers' 23-16 win at Chicago where QB Brett Hundley did just enough to get the win.

"It was a great day on the gridiron," said Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick. "The Saints and 49ers were big games for the book. The Chargers, Colts, Packers and Falcons were also helpful. Rams were the worst game for us and we need Denver."

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Every book in town needed Denver, but McCormick said it was still going to be a solid day even if they didn't cover but that it would have been a "monster day" if Denver won outright. MGM's 10 books on the strip had the same situation with the Broncos impact being a loss but a minimal impact on the day overall.

Despite still having the NFL's worst defense, statistically, the Patriots have that Super Bowl look about them and they're playing with a chip on their shoulder still angry from that opening night home loss to Kansas City. The Broncos, meanwhile, have lost five straight losing by a combined 165-68 score. Denver went into Philadelphia last week with the top-ranked defense, statistically, and promptly gave up 51 there and 41 on Sunday night. It was their third straight game 'over' the total (45) and sixth in nine games this season.

"We did well against the wise guys this week with Houston and the Giants not covering," said Stoneback. "The worst game of the day for us was the Lions covering, even though we had sharp plays on the Browns. We had big action on the first half with the Browns and then all the second half bets were on the Lions. Public money overwhelmed sharp money in this game."

Cleveland jumped all over Detroit (-10) in the first quarter as Lions quarterback Matt Stafford looked like he was sleep walking. This looked like the day the Browns were going to get their first win. They were up 24-17 in the third quarter. If you were one of the wise guys holding +10 and higher, you were feeling pretty good about your situation. But in typical Browns fashion, everything caved in. Stafford would wake up and throw three touchdown passes to finish the game on a 21-0 run and not only win 38-24, but get the cover for all the masses.

William Hill's 107 sports books across the state had 87 percent of the cash wagered on the Giants-49ers game siding with the Giants. The public and sharps both liked the Giants and the spread went from 49ers -1.5 to Giants -3 by kickoff. But the 49ers played well the entire game to get their first win of the season, 31-21, and put their No. 1 overall pick in the draft in jeopardy. The Giants dropped to 1-8 and the 49ers jumped to 1-9.

Perhaps the biggest shocker of Week 10 was the way the New Orleans Saints marched into Buffalo, who were 4-0 at home, and absolutely beat the tar out of the Bills, 47-10. Buffalo had only 198 yards, but the most impressive Saints stat which exemplifies who the saints are best is that they ran the ball 48 times and passed the ball just 25 times. QB Drew Brees isn't needed to go crazy through the air anymore and it's helped the Saints win seven straight and become the best team in the NFC South and a real Super Bowl contender. Had the Saints not kneeled to run the clock out, they would have been credited with over 300 yards rushing on the day, but instead they settled for 298 yards.

The Saints are one of five legitimate Super Bowl contenders out of the NFC which is going to make this stretch run very exciting. We've got the Eagles, Rams, Cowboys, Seahawks, Saints and I suppose we can throw the Vikings in as well after their impressive 38-30 win at Washington to give them a five game win streak. That's a log jam of equality at the top with the Eagles holding the slight edge.

The Rams took three field goals to the half for a 9-7 lead over the visiting Texans, but then Jared Goff went off in the third quarter with three TD passes en route to a 33-7 win. The Rams have now won and covered four straight and their plus-134 point differential on the season is tops in the NFL. This game took in 19 percent of William Hill's NFL action Sunday. The thing that tells me the Rams are a team that could truly make the Super Bowl is them going 4-0 on the road. They're at Minnesota this week and the Vikings (-2.5) opened as short favorites.

Ezekiel Elliott proved he might be the most underrated running-back in the league when he was suspended and not much happened to the spread with the Falcons closing at -3.5. Dallas jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but that would be it for the rest of the day in an eventual 27-7 loss. Backup RB Alfred Morris tried to carry the load for Elliott gaining 53 yards in 11 carries, but the knockout burst Elliott provides with every carry just wasn't there with Morris. Dallas is going to have to somehow hang on for their playoff lives until Elliott gets back, but the NFC is awfully crowded at the top and it may be too late when he does get back. Dallas is very average without Elliott.

The Chargers covered +4.5 in a 20-17 overtime loss at Jacksonville and the Jaguars at 6-3 are legitimate contenders capable of upsetting anyone with the league's most fierce pass rush. Their consistent defense masks QB Blake Bortles multiple mistakes. He throws two picks Sunday and his squad picks him up. Their next three games set them up nicely to be 9-3 before a home game against the Seahawks. They go to Cleveland this week, then visit Arizona and finish off the run at home against the Colts. These guys will be contending for home field throughout the playoffs if Bortles can shed the errors.


Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 13 years.

  
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