Books earn small Week 1 winDespite the perfect storm brewing in Nevada sportsbooks on Sunday’s NFL Week 1 action with the three most popular teams winning and covering the number early, the books got a few breaks with an overhyped favored squad losing at home outright, a popular two-team teaser crashing, a sweet backdoor cover for the house, and one of the lowest-rated teams coming from the dead to salvage a tie.
After all the results were posted from the first 12 games on Sunday, as usual, it came down to the Sunday Night Football game to decide their fate.
“Even though we took sharp action on the Steelers we give away half the day’s winning if the Patriots cover due to the large parlay risk accumulated on the day,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback.”The Cardinals really eliminated a lot of risk for us.”
The Patriots rolled the Steelers 33-3 as 5 ½-point home favorites in wire-to-wire fashion.
Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook says the Cardinals are their second-worst rated team behind the Dolphins and they're barely just ahead of the Raiders. More on the Dolphins in a bit, but let’s talk about the biggest favorite of the week where the Eagles were -10 at home over the Redskins only to see quarterback Case Keenum catch fire and lead Washington to a 17-0 lead.
Philadelphia was a popular parlay and teaser play, and It’s likely a few disgruntled bettors threw their bets slips away early on. But the Eagles chopped away and not only took the lead in the second-half, but they also had the cover in line, 32-20, with just a few 3:18 remaining. It was gift cover and the roars throughout every book could be heard on the strip. But just as Eagles bettors were buying their celebratory gift-cover cocktail, Keenum struck again with 12 seconds left. Final score: Eagles 32-27.
“We were fortunate with the Redskins backdoor cover and getting then getting the Titans to win outright changed the trajectory of our day,” Stoneback said of the morning games after the most popular parlay teams of the Ravens, Rams, and Chiefs all got covers to go along with the Overs. That a nice six-bagger.
“Loads of liability rolling into the afternoon slate,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “Thank goodness for the Titans win and Redskins backdoor or we’d be looking at a disaster.”
The Redskins seemed to be the gateway for most books to escape the public parlay from gaining too much momentum. That, and the Browns losing 43-13 at home to the Titans as 5 ½-point favorites. The Browns losing coupled with Seattle (-9) beating Cincinnati by only a 21-20 score knocked out any momentum from heavy teaser risk on the day.
“It was a nice backdoor for us on the spread, but we could have cleaned up on the larger Eagles money-line bets we took,” said Kornegay who had the Eagles -450 posted on the money-line.
When the Redskins scored the last touchdown, you can imagine the scene in any sportsbook where not many took the points with the heavy road underdog Washington.
“It was real quiet in the book (Mirage) when the Redskins scored with only a sound of a few moans,” Stoneback said.
Favorites went 4-3 against the spread in the early games with two underdogs (Titans, Bills) winning outright, but the 'dogs came back stronger in the afternoon going 3-1-1 ATS which helped negate the lone favorite winning.
The Cowboys looked impressive in their 35-17 home win as seven-point home favorites against the Giants. The trendy pick of the week was those making a case to take the points with the Giants, but Dallas quickly disposed of that notion.
The Chargers (-6) technically got a push in their 30-24 overtime win against the Colts in Carson, CA (no real home-field edge), but the game was once at -7 and -6 ½ for quite a while after Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck announced his retirement. It went from -3 ½ to -7 quickly. Despite future Hall of Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri missing two fields goals and an extra-point in a game for the first time in his career, QB Jacoby Brissett led the Colts to a late TD and 2-point conversion to send it into overtime, 24-24.
But the major turning point of the day for the house was the Cardinals (+3) coming back to score 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter at home against the Lions who were up 24-6. Rookie QB Kyler Murray couldn’t get anything going and rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury looked like a deer in headlights as his slick offense was looking like the walking dead.
The Lions went from pick’em to -3 (Even) by kickoff. The game ended in a 27-27 tie, but the Cardinals got the money and sent a sure 'under' ticket (46) to cash the high side. And the Cards offense actually looked very good in their final five possessions, four which resulted in scores.
The lowest rated team, the Dolphins, proved their preseason rating was way overrated. No team will be adjusted more than the Dolphins in the next week after they got blasted 59-10 by Baltimore at home while surrendering 643 total yards. Bettors knew the Dolphins were dirty rags as well and bet the Ravens at a 10-to-1 ratio at CG Technology books coming into the weekend. Between key players being traded, existing players wanting to be traded, and morale at an all-time low, I can’t ever remember the Browns being so lifeless when at their worst.
Miami opened +14 ½ at home to New England in Week 2 but that number is already creeping upwards.
But Kornegay cautioned.
"The biggest overreactions in the NFL by the public are always following Week 1, but yes, there's no doubt the Dolphins are the worst team in the NFL."
The Ravens will get to pick on the No. 2 worst rated team next Sunday in Week 2 as they’re -13 ½ at home against the Cardinals.
West Coast time zone teams traveling East for a 10:00 a.m. PT game doesn’t usually work out well, and the Cardinals will be having a rookie QB in his first road start. There are so many reasons to believe that the Ravens will have their way with their new pass-happy offense. But is it more about QB Lamar Jackson being improved or the Dolphins just being awful?
Something to ponder during the week with such a huge number!
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 15 years.
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