Books capture Week 1 win
September 10, 2018
By Micah Roberts
Aaron Rodgers got hurt, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a career day and the Browns didn't lose. The end result for Las Vegas sports books was a winning day for all to kick off Week 1 of the NFL season.
"The day went well, we had a good morning, but the afternoon games hit us a little bit," said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. "The public was all over the Saints, so the Bucs winning outright was our biggest win of the day. But we had a guy with deep pockets, a casino player, that bet the Panthers-Cowboys game Under a couple of times."
The Panthers (-3) won a 16-8 home match against the Cowboys, who were playing without All-Pro center Travis Frederick, keeping the total 'under' 42 total points. The Buccaneers 48-40 win at New Orleans was the largest total ever scored in an NFL Week 1 game, and it was also the biggest underdog of the week to win outright among the four that did so on Sunday.
"Wow, Fitzpatrick looked awfully sharp today, without a doubt," said South Point sports book director Chris Andrews.
Fitzpatrick, a journeyman from Harvard, had a career day with 417 yards and four passing touchdowns and also had a rushing TD. Who had him on their fantasy roster? Not me. He was filling in for Jameis Winston who was serving a three-game suspension for groping an Uber driver in Scottsdale back in 2016. Winston is the same guy who stole crab legs from a Tallahassee grocery store and was also accused of rape by a Florida State student. The Bucs straight-up win paid a city-high of +425 at Boyd Gaming properties.
The next biggest decision was the Browns 21-21 tie at home against the bully of the NFC North Pittsburgh, who dropped from a seven-point road favorite back in April to -3.5 by kickoff.
"The public bet the Steelers a bunch so it helped us minimize the sharp wagers we had taken on the Browns since we first posted the number," Stoneback said. "They were even taking +3.5 today. We ended up closing Steelers -3.5, +105."
The Browns went winless last season and are 1-31 the past two seasons (8-24 against the spread), but they played inspired football late in the game and that defense is going to make noise this season. They were 10/1 to win the division at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook before wagering cutoff on it.
While the Browns decision worked well for the house, the biggest loss at most shops was the Ravens 47-3 win, easily covering the 7.5-point spread against the hapless Bills who started Nathan Peterman at QB that posted an obscene 0.0 QB rating.
"We got a little back with the Bills at +9 and we jacked up the money-line as well to entice and get some money back, but we still lost big on the Ravens," said Andrews.
Joe Flacco tossed three TD passes in the win and it seemed every bettor had the Ravens on their parlays.
"The Ravens and Vikings were no good," said CG Technology risk manager Jason Simbal. "But everything else was okay, or good. Our best games were the Chiefs and Bucs."
The Vikings (-6) held on to win 24-16 against the 49ers handing Jimmy Garoppolo his first loss as an NFL starter. The Chiefs (+3.5) routed the Chargers, 38-28, in what looked like a home game for KC in Carson, California.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the day was just how lousy the Cardinals (-2) were, or maybe how good the Redskins were, in Washington's 24-6 win.
"I didn't see a lot of the game, but the Redskins stat sheet looked impressive and we needed them because wise-guys came in late on Arizona," said Andrews who closed Arizona -2 after being -1 for the last five months. William Hill closed at a city high of -2.5.
By the way, the South Point is decked out for the NASCAR race they're sponsoring this weekend, the first time Las Vegas Motor Speedway is hosting a Cup Series date in the fall. Two races this season and beyond. Woo-hoo, the South Point 400, drop the green flag already.
As far as the Cardinals point-spread rating going southward, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook director Ed Salmons said he immediately dropped the Cards rating two points and pointed out how tough their road schedule was. They play at the Rams next week. I could make an argument that the Cards rating should drop four points.
Arizona had 24 new players on their roster, including a new quarterback, as well as a new head coach with a new a new offensive scheme headed up by Tim Tebow's old offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. The Cards possessed the ball only 21 minutes and looked as if they deserved to be rated on the bottom of the swamp with Buffalo. Hello Josh Rosen! Two weeks?
William Hill's Nick Bogdanovich 100-plus books across the country said their books did okay and a Bears cover would enhance their standing on the day.
It happened. The Packers (-7) won 24-23, but the Bears covered after being up 20-0 when Aaron Rodgers went down with an early injury. He didn't play the first half. But then he did an epic 'Wes Unfeld returns to the court moment' and stormed them back for the Packers ninth win of the past 10 meetings with Chicago. More details to come on the Rodgers injury, but in the second half, he was poetry in motion writing an amazing chapter of his 'Hall of Fame' career.
Stratosphere sports book director Ed Malinowski was in the same boat needing the Bears to come up with a cover and the 'under' to better an already good day.
"We're up a little bit going into the late game," said Andrews just prior tokickoff. "We need either a Packers blowout of a Bears win to offset a lot of teaser risk. Parlay and teaser risk is pretty large with the Packers."
It turned out being all-way teaser win which surely had a negative effect everywhere. It alsomiddledthe total which had dropped to 46.5 at a few shops.
The books also got a nice bump to Week 1 with the Thursday night game.
"Thursday went well for us," Stoneback said of the Eagles 18-12 opening night win. "We closed the Falcons -1 after opening the Eagles -4."
Outside of Fitzpatrick and Rodgers, I think the thing that stuck with me most in Week 1 was Von Miller sacking Russell Wilson three times, Patrick Mahomes proving me wrong with his four TD passes, James Connor being just as good as Le'Veon Bell might have, and the Jaguars defense still being the best. The Redskins have something cooking and the Panthers also had a new vibe of urgency.
It was a great NFL Sunday, welcome back football!
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 14 years.
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