Bookmakers were seen partying in to the wee hours of Monday morning as the house raked in huge profits courtesy of some NFL late game action that swung in their direction.
In the match up of the day, the Eagles 38-24 victory would not have had a major impact on the bottom line if not for a Lito Sheppard 102 yard interception return of a Drew Bledsoe pass with 18 seconds to go, which sent the teasers into a tizzy. Equal to the task was Brett Favre’s late game fumble deep in Ram territory which prevented Green Bay from sending the game into OT, or pulling out a last second win, either of which would have rescued the over bettors, with the latter depriving Packer backers the opportunity to cash a ticket in regulation. In that game, the point spread moved decisively off the opening number of three, closing at 2.5 or 2 depending on the venue.
The Chiefs seemed to be the NFL public play of the week, as an onslaught of money drove them to a four-point favorite from of an opening line of 2.5. The money kept coming strong, but was undone by Herman Edwards’ decision to run Dee Brown three straight times into the line, thus settling for a tie breaking field goal as the Chiefs escaped the desert with a 23-20 victory. Edwards’ strategy was almost foiled as the normally reliable Neil Rackers missed a 51-yard field goal with two seconds to go that would have sent the game into overtime.
Other strong games for the house were the Saints three-point non covering win over the newly inspired, but still winless, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis’ 14-13 victory over the 0-5 Titans as 17 point favorites, and San Francisco’s 34-20 comeback win over the sad sack Raiders as the total was bet down to 39 off the opening number of 41. Oakland’s best shot at getting their first win lies in their October 22nd home meeting versus Arizona, who will be without the services of WR Larry Fitzgerald due to a hamstring injury.
Chicago, which has compiled a 5-0 record, destroyed the Bills by a score of 40-7 in a game that featured solid two-way action. While the Bears stock continues rising, the 1972 Dolphins, the NFL’s only undefeated team, starts checking Chicago’s schedule. The other blowout that had balanced action was the Jets 41-0 annihilation by the Jaguars in a game that saw New York set several marks for offensive futility.
The players were dead on in driving the Giants from a 3.5 to a six-point favorite as New York throttled the Redskins 19-3 as they held the ever dangerous Santana Moss to three receptions for 39 yards. Offsetting losses on the side for the books was the over under which was driven from an opening total of 43 to upwards of 46 at game time, a number that was never threatened.
The strongest game for the public was the Vikings 26-17 victory over the winless, though fiercely competitive Lions, who continue to blow games in their waning stages as they have done in four of their five losses. The Vikings miracle cover as seve-point favorites occurred when linebacker EJ Henderson raced 45 yards with a Jon Kitna pass attempt that barely left his arms as he was being wrapped up by a defender. The score capped a Minnesota comeback from a 17-3 deficit and also put the game over the total over 41 which spiked from the opening number of 39.
Both the Panthers 20-12 defeat of the Browns and the Patriots 10 point win over the Dolphins left many players wishing they had shopped the number as both contests landed at or near the spread depending on the house. Red zone breakdowns plagued both teams in Carolina as six field goals were kicked and the Panthers were stymied on a first and goal from the one late in the game. Much to the chagrin of those Panther backers that gave eight, Browns kicker Phil Dawson booted a three-pointer with five seconds remaining thus accounting for the eight-point differential, while those that laid seven and a hook cashed by the slimmest of margins. In New England, the Joey Harrington led Dolphins won the battle of yardage, but lost on the scoreboard, 20-10. The Patriots ended the game by downing the football at the Dolphin six-yard line three consecutive and thus preventing a cover for those Patriot backers who laid 10.
The Sunday night affair saw the home standing Chargers run their record to 3-1 with their 23-13 victory over the now 1-3 Steelers in a game that saw solid two way action. Under bettors were saved by coach Schottenheimers’ decision to run 3 straight times into the line from inside the Steeler 10 yard line. Charger kicker Nate Kaeding nailed a short field goal with 67 seconds remaining which extended the lead to 10 and providing the final margin of victory
Mondays’ 13-3 Bronco victory gave under players an easy winner and in the process evened out the weekly O/U record at seven. Those that were on the Broncos minus the 5 ½-points could not hit the sheets until Steve McNair tossed his third pick of the game as the Ravens drove deep into Denver territory with less than a minute remaining. The Bronco cover gave the favorites a 9-3 record for the week, but in a highly unusual occurrence, left the house with a nice rake for the week. The players have some ground to make up, as do I. Until next week my friends, with at least a few Suaza’s in between.