VSiN.com senior reporter
LAS VEGAS – Favorites continued to dominate NFL betting – and, no, you’re not reading last week’s NFL betting recap here at VSiN (or the week before, or the week before that, etc.).
The Ravens failed to cover Monday night in their 23-16 win over the Texans after closing as 8-point home faves, but faves still went 12-4 ATS in Week 12 and this is the sixth straight week in which favorites have covered more than underdogs and they’re 54-24-7 ATS (69.2%) over that span. In fact, faves have been so dominant that they haven’t covered at less than a 60% clip in any of those weeks (8-5-1 ATS in Week 8 being the narrowest margin).
Even after more than a month of losing NFL Sundays, Vegas bookmakers were starting to refer to this as Bloody Sunday since it was so bad, especially as they looked at the liability building up heading into the Sunday night game with the Steelers as popular 14-point home favorites over the Packers, plus a ton of money-line and point-spread parlays also tied to the Steelers. The books were able to breathe a sigh of relief as they at least cut some losses as the Steelers failed to cover (or even cover teasers) in their 31-28 victory on Chris Boswell’s 53-yard field goal as time expired. The Ravens' non-cover also helped the books avoid an even worse weekend, though they will be having to refund a lot of early wagers when the line was minus-7/plus-7 most of last week.
It’s interesting to note that this season was actually looking like it might be known as the Year of the Underdog through the first six weeks as dogs were 53-36-1 ATS (59.6%), but favorites have flipped the script and now lead 90-77-8 ATS (53.9%).
Thanksgiving Weekend started with a clean sweep for favorites in the NFL tripleheader. The Vikings beat the Lions 30-23 as 2.5-point road favorites, the suddenly resurgent Chargers blew out the Cowboys 28-6 as 1-point road chalk and the Redskins beat the Giants 20-10 as 7-point home favorites.
The Turkey Day nightcap saw the Giants tied 10-10 with the Redskins in the closing minutes, so it looked like one underdog would cover (or at least push), but Kirk Cousins hit Josh Dotson with a 14-yard TD pass with 3:31 to play and then Nick Rose added a field goal with 1:49 left to cover for the Redskins.
That was a portent of things to come for underdog bettors (and bookies).
Several underdogs looked live in the early Sunday games (1 p.m. ET kickoffs/10 a.m. PT here in Vegas), but time after time the favorites rallied or extended their leads to cover the spread as they went 6-1 ATS in the seven early games. The only no-doubt favorite cover was the Eagles’ 31-3 rout of the Bears as 13.5-point home faves as every other underdog was within the spread at some point in the fourth quarter of every other game, but the Bengals added a late TD to beat the Browns 30-16 and cover as 7.5-point home faves, the Patriots did the same to beat the Dolphins 35-17 as 16.5-point faves, as did the Falcons in their 34-20 win over the Buccaneers as 10-point home faves.
But two unlikely covers stood out above the others as the Titans actually trailed the Colts 16-6 in the third quarter and scored one TD in the third and another in the final quarter to not only win 20-16 but also cover after closing as 3.5-point road faves. The Panthers also bailed out chalk players with their 35-27 win over the Jets after closing as 6-point favorites. It looked like that game was going to end with a 5-point margin, 32-27 (which would have still made winners of early bettors who backed Carolina at the opening lines of -4 and -4.5 while still giving the win to Jets bettors at plus-5.5 and plus-6), but Graham Gano’s 45-yard FG with 21 seconds left gave the Panthers the cover at all numbers.
The only underdog to cover in the early games was the Bills in their 16-10 upset of the Chiefs as 9-point road dogs and plus-320 on the money line.
The chalk-fest continued in the afternoon games with the Seahawks beating the 49ers 24-13 as 7-point road favorites, the Rams beating the Saints 26-20 as 2.5-point home faves and the Raiders beating the Broncos 21-14 as 4-point home faves. The Cardinals were the only underdog to cover in the afternoon as they knocked off the Jaguars 27-24 as 6-point home dogs and plus-220 on the money line.
Over/under betting has been much more split this week as well as all season long. After the Texans-Ravens game stayed just under the closing total of 39.5 points, unders finished 9-7 this weekend and lead just 88-86-2 on the season.