Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:52 AM

Vegas Money Moves - Week 12

Washington bails out Books

Sunday’s Week 12 NFL action appeared to be getting heavier from 12 to 13 games because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Baltimore which left only two Thursday games, but both were heavily bet as usual on Thanksgiving.

Fortunately for the sportsbooks, they were given one beak with the results to help avoid an awful day.

“The Washington Football Team was a big help as the favorite and over combo of Texans to Over and Cowboys to over was the worst case,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “College basketball handle was incredible out of the box with mixed results.”

Winning three out of four NFL sides and totals can actually show a profit for a popular locals chain of books like Stations because the most popular four-team parlay lost as well as the late two-team parlay.

It’s always a temporary win, though, because the Thanksgiving leftovers are waiting to cash with a few teams on Sunday that will payout 6-to-1, 10-to-1, and higher.

Public fading NFC South Underdogs

The top candidate expected to be on the most parlay’s waiting to cash is the Las Vegas Raiders who are three-point road favorites at Atlanta.

It’s the top public play at Stations, the SuperBook, South Point, and Atlantis Reno. The Raiders went toe-to-toe with a good fight against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in a 34-31 loss, but covered the number for their fourth straight cover to make it 7-3 ATS this season (tied for second-best) and also go 7-2-1 to the over.

The Falcons sit at 3-7 on the season and are coming off a bad 24-9 loss to the Saints in Week 11 and are 1-4 at home in five games.

The next most popular public play is the Kansas City Chiefs, who have gone from -3 to -3.5 at Tampa Bay who comes off a tough Monday night loss at home to the Los Angeles Rams.

The total has risen from 53 to 56. It’s as if everyone spending $20 to $100 for Week 12 have turned their back on quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs. And the 9-1 Chiefs aren’t covering at the same rate as last season, but they rarely have bad games. Plus, they’re 5-0 on the road and can be trusted at a short price.

Understanding Pro's vs. Joe's Action

But the collective public betting logic is kind of why I write this piece each week. It’s nice to see what the sharps like, and I’ll let you know who they do shortly, but the public weight is more important for me to know before I bet.

The public opinion is how all these beautiful sportsbooks are being built and why every chain in the world wants a piece of America’s new stance on legal sports betting.

To give an example of how good the average Joe is for business, let’s look at the top-4 public plays from last week:

  1. Dolphins (-4 at Denver)
  2. Chiefs (-7.5 at Las Vegas)
  3. Patriots (-2.5 at Houston)
  4. Packers (+1.5 at Indianapolis)

They also liked the Steelers (-10.5 at Jacksonville) who won and covered, but the other four were losses that helped the books have a great Sunday.

Visiting Risk

Back to week 12 public risk which also has the Dolphins (-6.5 at NY Jets), the Giants (-6 at Cincinnati), and Saints (-6 at Denver).

AFC East Value?

The Dolphins had their five-game win streak snapped at Denver with rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa getting benched in the fourth quarter of a winnable game for back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Jets played hard again behind Joe Flacco at the Chargers to give Flacco covers in his last two starts. But the Jets are still 0-10, which can be a negative in the minds of the public. QB Sam Darnold expected to get the nod for the Jets this week.

Broncos are home 'dogs -- again

The Broncos found their running game last week against the Dolphins and the defense played great to help the win. “Less (Drew) Lock, more (Phillip) Lindsay,” has been the battle cry for most Denver fans lately.

The Saints have won seven straight and covered three straight and the public got the nod last week that QB Taysom Hill is a suitable replacement for Drew Brees.

Handicapping the Bengals

I had an interesting conversation with a respected bettor early in the week about the Giants-Bengals game. It went something like this:

MR: “The Bengals are going to be awful without QB Joe Burrow; he kept them in games, chewed up the clock with an effective short passing game which helped the Bengals cover six of nine games before getting hurt.”

RB: “So you like the Giants to roll then, right? No real home-field edge with Cincy and QB Brandon Allen is starting for Burrow. I think Allen started three times for the Broncos last season.”

MR: “Are you kidding? How can you lay points with the Giants? This is a team that’s been favored once all season, laying two points at home against Washington and they couldn’t even cover in a 20-19 win. They’ve covered seven of 10, but only when catching points. I don’t want any part of either team.”

The Giants have covered four straight and have won two straight as they try to keep up with NFC East-leading Washington’s four wins. Wynn Sportsbook director Doug Castaneda says the Giants are their biggest liability of the week so far.

Sharp Action

The most popular sharp bets this week have been the San Francisco 49ers (+7.5 & +7) and the Philadelphia Eagles (+6) on Monday Night Football.

The Rams come off two huge wins in beating Seattle and Tampa Bay while the 49ers have looked horrible in losing their last three (0-3 ATS), so naturally, the wise guys expect a Rams letdown and for NFL players on the banged-up 49ers to be NFL quality and play well. This is why the SuperBook is sitting Rams -6.5.

The Eagles are trying to keep pace in the NFC East and with a home win Monday night they can remain in first-place. The Seahawks are well rested after a huge win over Arizona last Thursday while the Eagles have lost two straight, albeit on the road. At home, the Eagles are 2-2-1. At all locations, the Eagles have turned the ball over 20 times.

The Golden Nugget sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas already knows who they need the most and the risk is only going to get larger because it’s the toxic Sunday night game where books often find themselves in an all-way loss after all the Sunday games have been posted and heavy parlay and teaser risk carries to all sides of the late game.

“We get blasted if the Packers cover Sunday night as of right now," said Nugget book director Tony Miller. “We’re a Packer house and have always been.”

QB Mitch Trubisky is expected to start for the Bears at Green Bay Sunday night with the Packers being 9.5-point favorites and a total set at 44.5.

Understand House Rules

The big news of the week was COVID-19 swirling in the Ravens weight-lifting room at their complex which forced a move from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon for their game at Pittsburgh. QB Lamar Jackson was one of those players testing positive and they already had RBs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins listed as out for Thursday’s game. There still is a possibility of the game being moved to Tuesday.

But the main thing I saw throughout the week was how different all the house rules are regarding date changes.

Some books like Station Casinos have the longstanding rules of must play on its scheduled date and location for action. They have not reposted the Sunday game odds for fear of the game being moved to Tuesday. Saves for the customer aggravation when bets are refunded when not knowing the rules.

But other books have different rules like the SuperBook that stipulates a game must be played before August 2021 for action. They’re giving themselves lots of wiggle room after hearing some blowback on future bets refunded when having date changes such as the Masters or French Open.

Wynn’s rule states the original location must be the site played at but the game must be played within seven days of the originally scheduled date.

BetMGM has the same 7-day rule and already has a huge risk on the Steelers. It’s their biggest risk of the week so far.

Here’s a quick recap on the sharp/public divide for the upcoming games. 

As always, good luck! 

Week 12 - Public vs. Sharp Leans


  • Raiders
  • Chiefs
  • Giants
  • Dolphins
  • Saints


  • 49ers
  • Eagles
  • Panthers
  • Jets
  • Falcons
  • Raiders
  • Patriots

Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 16 years.

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