The scorecards were deadlocked as eight favorites and eight dogs covered the number in round 15 of the NFL season
It all started on a sloppy night in Seattle as the rejuvenated 49ers overcame a four-point halftime deficit to defeat the heavily favored and fledging Seahawks, 24-14.Seattle closed as a 10-point favorite. The San Francisco shocker was a good thing for the house though bookmaker celebrations were tempered by their losses on the total which plummeted from an opening number of 43 to close at 38 ½. As a result of the 38 points scored, the house gave back a good part of their take on the straight wagers.
Saturday night belonged to the squares as Dallas overcame a 28-21 deficit, and went on to score the last 17 points as they won going away 38-28. Betting shops were overwhelmed with the Cowboys and the over as both numbers were driven up sharply, the spread from 3 to 4 ½ and the total from 43 to 45. Any hopes for a Falcon back door cover were dashed by a hamstring injury to Michael Vick which caused him to remove himself from the game during the final drive. Matt Schaub promptly came in and threw an interception with less than a minute remaining.
The Saints seemed to catch a dose of Falconitis as their receivers dropped passes early and often paving the way a 16-10 Redskin victory. It was a bittersweet day for the Saints and their fans as New Orleans did clinch the NFC South by virtue of the Panthers’ loss, but now find themselves in a must win situation to secure a first round bye in the playoffs. Books were heavy on the Saints but the real story was the over/under, which opened 42.5, and climbed as high as 47.5 before settling at 47. That number was never threatened nor was the 10-point spread, which also sucked in an avalanche of teaser money that was obliterated.
The Saints have the Steelers to thank for that division title as Pittsburgh made short work of the fast fading Panthers 37-3. Last years’ Super Bowl Champs were installed a 2 ½-point favorite, which nudged up to a field goal by game day, the result of steady money on the chalk.
The players also scored big with New England’s 40-7 annihilation of the Texans, the Packers 17-9 defeat of the Lions, who managed only 142 yards of offense, and the Broncos 37-20 road win over Arizona. The Patriots tallied only 230 total yards, but were helped along by four David Carr interceptions, and a 93 yard kickoff return by Ellis Hobbs, while Jay Cutler enjoyed his best day as a pro thus far in completing 21 of 31 for 261 with 2 TDs and only one pick.. Green Bay backers had their patience rewarded as the Pack managed a late cover as seldom used running back Vernand Morency took one in from 21 yards with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Others games that were kind to the house included the Ravens 27-17 win over the Browns, who came in under the 12 ½ point number, the Jets 26-13 upset of the Vikings, and the Eagles 36-22 come back win over the Giants as Philly erupted for 22 fourth quarter points. Despite the loss the Giants will still earn a post season berth with two victories, assuming Dallas does not lose to both Philadelphia and Detroit.
Both the Bills and the Rams pitched shutouts as Buffalo downed Miami 21-0 and St. Louis blanked the Raiders, who were goose egged for the third time this season. The Silver and Black continue their inept play as they went down to their 12th defeat against just two victories. Both games had solid two way action, though the latter contest inspired little betting interest.
Tennessee continues to amaze as they won their fifth straight, while overcoming a 396 to 98 yardage deficit on the strength of a 92-yard return of a fumble, and two interceptions that were also brought back for scores. Once again books reported two-way action though most of the sharps were on the right side of the 24-17 final, with the total landing on the 41 closing number.
All roads will lead through Chicago during the upcoming NFC playoffs as the Bears secured home field advantage with their 34-31 win over Tampa Bay, who overcame a 24-3 deficit in sending the game to overtime. Kicker Robbie Gould won it for Chicago on a 25-yard field goal with 3 ½ minutes remaining in the extra session. Squares, seen counting their money midway through the 3rd quarter, were heavy on the Bears, who allowed over 300 yards of offense to their opponent for the 4th consecutive game.
The night belonged to LT and the Chargers as they positioned themselves to earn home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a 20-9 win over the Chiefs. Tomlinson ran for 199, and the books, as could be expected found themselves heavy with San Diego support. A late field goal with less than five minutes remaining provided the final margin of victory.
Indy responded to reports of their demise with a 34-16 domination of the Bengals. The outcome was neutral for the house on the side, though the total was anything but as the number, which opened at 51, and climbed as high as 55 ½, settled in at 55 when the game kicked off. Repeated red zone failures by both teams allowed the game to stay under the number, giving the house the final word in Week 15.
On to week 16…
Paul Bovi is a contributing writer and professional handicapper for VegasInsider.com.