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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:55 PM

Favorites start strong, fade late

Sportsbook Betting Recap - Week 15

Sunday’s Week 15 NFL action was a tale of two halves with bettors owning Nevada sportsbooks in early action that saw favorites go 6-1-1 against-the-spread, but the books bounced back in the afternoon with underdogs going 4-1 both straight-up and ATS. The combined results produced mixed results across the state with most bet shops needing the Steelers to improve the winless or climb out of the hole.

“We lost every early game, but won every late game,” said William Hill’s head bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich. “Our worst game ended up being the Patriots and our best games were the Falcons and Cowboys.” The Patriots had not lost three straight games with Tom Brady since 2002 and it was a popular play with large and small money everywhere following the trend with the Patriots losing their last two. Bettors had to sweat out the Patriots sluggish offense with the Bengals leading after the first quarter and only up 13-10 at the half, but they would roll to a 34-13 win covering a spread that ran from -9.5 to 10.5.

The Patriots cover had books on red alert with parlays and teasers as it was one of the root games to start a tidal wave, but they’d get relief later.

“The 49ers losing was huge, said Caesars Palace sportsbook director Jeff Davis of the Falcons 29-22 upset win at San Francisco (-10). “We had a house player play a big chalk 3-team parlay (with the 49ers on it) making it our best game of the day. The Patriots were the worst, but we ended up a good winner needing the Steelers in the late game.”

The Bills (+1) would end up winning, 17-10, at Pittsburgh to close out Sunday’s action making favorites 7-6-1 ATS on the day with all six underdogs winning outright with the Falcons getting the largest money-line payout of +434 at Circa sportsbook.

“The fluke TD at the end of the 49ers game sent the game over the total and we needed the under,” said Wynn sportsbook director Doug Castaneda.

On their last play, the 49ers tried to do some Cal-Stanford marching band stuff off a kickoff after the Falcons took a 23-22 lead and proceeded to fumble and the Falcons score a TD which sent the total over 49.5 points.

There was another wacky last play between Washington and Philadelphia when Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins fumbled and Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham scooped it up and ran it back for a 49-yard touchdown. Final score: Eagles 37-27. The spread was Eagles -6.5 and the sportsbook crowds were roaring with approval and the swing loss for the books was substantial.

“One of the worst games of the day was the Eagles,” said CG Technology sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso. “That fumble return was about a $200,000 swing.”

The Eagles covering had the books shaken because it added to the morning favorites getting there with parlays and had the perfect risk recipe for a Black Sunday brewing.

“The Philly covering swing was about a $100,000 difference for us,” said MGM Resorts sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback.

“We didn’t win many games on the day, but the three games we did win were enough to make us a small winner,’ said DiTommaso. “The Chiefs win happened to be our best; we had lots of Broncos action on the spread and money-line. We closed at -8 and no one wanted any of it. The other wins for us were the Vikings and also the Jaguars (+7 in 20-16 win at Oakland)."

The Chiefs opened -9.5 and got as high as -10.5, but with snow expected, the Broncos became a popular wager as did the total staying under which dropped from 45 to 42.5. The Chiefs would win, 23-3, a result that benefitted several books, but not all of them based on clientele.

“We did really well to the Chiefs game staying under beating out a $100,000 4-team teaser,” Stoneback said.

Some books are at the mercy of whales that casinos give extended limits to in any casino game they want to play and have completely different results in the book which made the Chiefs a loser at Wynn.

“The Packers side and the first half hurt us the most and then the Chiefs were our next biggest loser,” Castaneda said. “And then the only favorite to cover in the late game, the Vikings, was no good, either.”

The Packers (-4.5) won, 21-13, at home against the Bears and the Vikings (-1.5) blasted the Chargers, 39-10, in a sea of purple shirts at Carson, CA.

“We took a hit,” said Castaneda. “It was our worst Sunday of the season. We had two of our biggest casino players go undefeated on the day betting most of those early favorites.”

One of those whales went 6-0 riding the favorites and while Castaneda didn’t divulge details of the bet amount, it’s a safe assumption all the bets were at least $100,000. The clientele at the Wynn is unlike any in Las Vegas, so the Wynn can book all games perfectly for the week and then have a few whales come in with wagers and change their entire strategy in an instant. It’s almost like the hard work during the week didn’t matter.

One of the games that flipped in opinion over the weekend was the Rams who on Friday were one of the three most wagered upon teams. The Cowboys (+1) knew the Eagles won at Washington and had to keep pace in the NFC East where the two are tied for the lead at 7-7 and they put a beat down on the Rams, 44-21, almost as bad as the Ravens did four weeks ago. But Cowboys money showed on Saturday and Sunday to make the books’ win not as large as it appeared it would. The other most one-sided bets were the Patriots and Seahawks at Carolina.

“Our best game ended up being the Seahawks despite it landing 6,” Stoneback said of Seattle’s 30-24 win. “Even though we opened -5.5 and were at -6 for a while but most of our action was taken at -6.5.”

Stoneback also said the Texans 24-21 win on the road against the Titans (-3) in the battle for the AFC South was a good result for them.

I know I’ve been staying it for the past six weeks regarding the favorites having one big week to wipe the books out, and I felt like Sunday was the day, but the underdogs made a strong comeback late. Maybe Week 16 is the week.


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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