It was another wild weekend for NFL bettors, with a Hail Mary and a running back intentionally running out of bounds to preserve a win but cost bettors a cover. With the New England Patriots (+ 7) defeating the Baltimore Ravens 23-17, it was a good weekend for several sportsbooks.
One of the biggest wins of the day for books was the Cleveland Browns (-4.5) beating the Houston Texans 10-7, but not covering the spread. Cleveland running back Nick Chubb broke into the open field with a little over a minute left in the game and the Browns up by a field goal, but intentionally ran out of bounds at the 1-yard line instead of scoring. Baker Mayfield took two subsequent kneeldowns and Cleveland won – but didn’t cover – 10-7. Over 89% of the money at William Hill US sportsbooks was on the Browns.
Chubb’s decision produced a “substantial” win at DraftKings sportsbooks and per ESPN’s David Purdum, it caused a mid-six-figure swing in favor of the house at BetMGM.
“The Browns were one of our biggest decisions of the day with both respected and public play on them,” Station Casinos sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “It clearly saved the morning.”
The second-best result on the day for PointsBet sportsbooks was the New York Giants (+ 4.5) beating the Philadelphia Eagles outright 27-17. One bettor at BetMGM wagered $100,000 on the Giants + 4.5, while another wagered $110,000 on the Giants 3 in the first half. Both bets cashed.
The other wild gambling moment came at the end of the Buffalo Bills-Arizona Cardinals game. The Bills (+ 3) were leading 30-26 before Kyler Murray connected with DeAndre Hopkins on a 43-yard Hail Mary TD. The Cardinals, though, had a kneeldown on the extra point, giving Buffalo + 2.5/+ 3 bettors a win, while Cardinals bettors at -1.5 got a win and those at -2 got a push. One bettor at Borgata in New Jersey lost a $100,000 wager on the Bills 3 second half as a result of the touchdown. The game also went OVER the total of 56 as a result. That was bad news for BetRivers sportsbooks, which had 92% of the ML handle on the OVER. It was the most-bet total of the day.
“The big decisions for us today were the Dolphins/Chargers game (not a good one for the book) and the Cardinals/Bills game (good one for us),” Thomas Gable, sportsbook director at the Borgata said.
Despite big favorites (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay) winning and two of the three covering, sportsbooks cashed in big on New England’s win on Sunday night. The Patriots winning outright killed any moneyline parlays and teasers tied to the Ravens. At William Hill books, 90% of the bets and 95% of the spread money was on the Ravens -7.
-- Ben Fawkes
Indianapolis Colts (-1, 49) at Tennessee Titans
The Colts opened as short road underdogs but were bet to favoritism and played like they should have been favored. It looked like a toss-up early, tied 10-10 midway through the second quarter and the Titans taking a 17-10 lead with 2:54 left in the second quarter, but then the Colts’ No. 1-ranked defense took over, shutting out the Titans the rest of the game as the Colts scored 24 unanswered points to pull away. The special teams also contributed when the Colts held a slim 20-17 lead late in the third quarter and they blocked a punt that T.J. Carrie ran in from 6 yards out to make the lead 27-17. Jacoby Brissett’s 2-yard insurance TD run with 9:21 left put the game Over the betting total.
Final score: Colts 34, Titans 17
ATS winner: Colts
Total: Over 49
Washington Football Team at Detroit Lions (-2.5, 45.5)
This looked like it was going to be a blowout when Matthew Stafford hit Marvin Hall for a 55-yard TD pass midway through the first quarter, the Lions led 17-3 at halftime and went ahead 24-7 on Stafford’s third TD with 7:58 left in the third quarter. However, Alex Smith (390 passing yards on 55 passes) dinked-and-dunked the Football Team back into it as J.D. McKissic had a 2-yard TD run and Antonio Gibson added two more TD runs to tie the game 24-24 with 6:09 to play. The last TD also put it Over the betting total. The two teams exchanged FGs and it looked like the game was going to overtime on Dustin Hopkins’ 41-yard FG with :16 left in regulation, but Stafford took the Lions 34 yards in three plays (aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty) to set up Matt Prater’s game-winning 59-yard FG as time expired. The Lions closed against the consensus closing line of -2.5 in Las Vegas, though early Washington bettors cashed at 4 and 3.5 while plenty of gameday bettors pushed on /-3 (and some bettors probably cashed a middle).
Final score: Lions 30, Football Team 27
ATS winner: Lions
Total: Over 45.5
Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns (-4.5, 45.5)
The start of this game was delayed 35 minutes by a thunderstorm/hailstorm/high winds depending on the report. Sharp bettors bet this early in the week down from an opening total of 53.5 to a closing number of 45.5 -- and it was never in doubt. The Browns led 3-0 at halftime, the lowest first-half score in the NFL this season. The Texans squandered their best scoring opportunity early in the second quarter with third-and-goal at the Cleveland 2-yard line, but WR Randall Cobb dropped a TD pass and then QB Deshaun Watson was stuffed by Myles Garrett on fourth down. The two teams combined for fewer than 600 yards of total offense. The Browns went up 10-0 on Nick Chubb’s 9-yard TD run with 13:32 to play, but Watson’s 16-yard TD pass to Pharaoh Brown with 4:59 left put the Texans back within the spread. Cleveland was trying to run out the clock with just over a minute to play when Chubb broke a long run and looked like he would get the cover for Browns backers; however, he intentionally went out of bounds at the 1-yard line so they could go into victory formation on the next play and not risk letting the Texans have any more possessions.
Final score: Browns 10, Texans 7
ATS winner: Texans
Total: Under 45.5
Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers (-13.5, 47)
In addition to regular bettors, there were countless “survivor/last man standing/king of the hill”-type contest players from coast to coast (including 204 of the 310 entrants remaining in the $1.39 million Circa Survivor in Las Vegas) sweating out this game. The Jacksonville defense forced Green Bay to punt on its first three possessions before Aaron Rodgers hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a 78-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter. But the rout wasn’t on as Keelan Cole had a 91-yard punt return for a TD and added a 12-yard TD catch from Jake Luton to tie the game 17-17 early in the third quarter. The Jaguars actually took a 20-17 lead on Chase McLaughlin’s 31-yard FG with 12:40 left in regulation to make Packer backers sweat even more, but Rodgers hit Davante Adams on a leaping 6-yard TD pass with 9:03 to play to put the Packers ahead 24-20.
Final score: Packers 24, Jaguars 20
ATS winner: Jaguars
Total: Under 47
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5, 46) at New York Giants
The Giants (3-7) are back in the NFC Least race with their 27-17 upset of the Eagles. Daniel Jones opened the scoring with a 34-yard TD run on the Giants’ opening drive and led the Giants with 64 rushing yards. RB Wayne Gallman also ran for 2 TDs. The Eagles never led, but they got back into the game with a 56-yard TD run by Boston Scott and a 5-yard TD run by Corey Clement to pull within 21-17 with 5:20 left in the third quarter. However, Graham Gano kicked two fourth-quarter FGs to help the Giants pull away and pull off the 185 upset on the moneyline (the only outright upset during the day Sunday before the Patriots won on Sunday night as favorites went 10-2 SU on the day, but only 7-5 ATS).
Final score: Giants 27, Eagles 17
ATS winner: Giants
Total: Under 46
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6, 49.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers were sticking around and actually leading 17-10 late in the second quarter, but Tom Brady hit Mike Evans with a 3-yard TD pass with :27 left before halftime to tie the score. Ryan Succop hit a 24-yard FG on the Bucs’ first drive after intermission and then, just leading 20-17 and backed up on their own 2-yard line, Ronald Jones II broke off a franchise-record 98-yard TD run and broke open the game. Succop added two more FGs before Teddy Bridgewater scored on a 3-yard TD run to cut the lead to 32-23 (the score also put the game Over the betting total and also pulled the Panthers within one score of covering), but Brady added a 1-yard TD run and a 7-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski to pull away.
Final score: Buccaneers 46, Panthers 23
ATS winner: Buccaneers
Total: Over 49.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 45.5)
Ben Roethlisberger returned from the COVID-19 reserve list and wasn’t too sharp early as the Steelers were held to FGs on their first two drives, but he finished 27-for-46 for 333 yards and four TD passes to lead the rout as the Steelers easily covered. Big Ben’s TD passes were to Diontae Johnson (6 catches for a team-leading 116 yards), JuJu Smith-Schuster (9 catches, 77 yards) and then two to Chase Claypool in the second half. The game didn’t go Over until Randy Bullock’s 37-yard FG with 5:05 to play.
Final score: Steelers 36, Bengals 10
ATS winner: Steelers
Total: Over 45.5
Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5, 50.5)
The Raiders ran over the Broncos with Josh Jacobs gaining 112 yards on the ground with 2 TDs and backup Devontae Booker adding another 81 yards and 2 TDs in the fourth quarter. But the Raiders’ defense played its best game of the same, limiting Denver to 313 yards of total offense and winning the turnover battle 5-0. The Raiders led just 7-6 late in the first half but ran off 23 unanswered points to lead 30-6 before the Broncos scored their lone TD in garbage time. The game fell just short of the betting total of 50.5 points.
Final score: Raiders 37, Broncos 12
ATS winner: Raiders
Total: Under 50.5
Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals (-3, 56)
Where do we start with the game of the day? The Bills dominated the first half as Buffalo QB Josh Allen scored the first TD on a 12-yard TD catch from Isaiah McKenzie but three FGs by Tyler Bass had them leading only 16-9 at halftime. The Bills extended the lead to 23-19 on Allen’s 22-yard TD pass to Cole Beasley with 9:52 left in the third quarter, but the Cardinals rallied with two TD runs by QB Kyler Murray to take a 26-23 lead after three quarters. When Allen hit Stefon Diggs with a 21-yard TD pass to give the Bills a 30-26 lead (and put the game on the Over/Under of 56) with just :34 to play, it looked like the Bills were going to pull off the minor upset. But Murray moved the Cardinals past midfield and threw up a Hail Mary that was caught by DeAndre Hopkins between three Buffalo defenders for a 43-yard TD to put Arizona ahead 32-30 (and the game Over the total). But that wasn’t the end of the betting implications as the Cardinals closed as 3-point home favorites but plenty of bettors had them at -2 and -2.5 and were expecting the PAT kick to give them the cover. Instead, Arizona lined up for a 2-point conversion and Murray took a knee (instead of risking a blocked PAT that could have been returned for a defensive 2-point conversion to tie the game). SuperContest and Circa Sports Million players did cash with Cardinals -1.5.
Final score: Cardinals 32, Bills 30
ATS winner: Bills
Total: Over 56
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5, 55)
We actually had an NFL game in 2020 with no TD passes, which is more surprising as Russell Wilson (who had a league-leading 28 in his prior eight games, an average of 3.5 per game) was involved. But the Rams’ defense harassed him all game and held him to just 248 passing yards and intercepted him twice. The Rams led 17-13 at halftime thanks to TD runs by RBs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown. Scoring slowed down in the second half. Brown’s 1-yard TD run with 6:22 left in the third quarter and the Seahawks didn’t score again until Jason Myers’ 39-yard FG cut the lead to 23-16 (and was a winner for those teasing the Seahawks up to 8.5), but the ensuing onside kick failed as the Rams held on. The NFC West tightened up with the Rams and Cardinals winning as they both improved to 6-3 to catch the Seahawks in a three-way tie atop the division.
Final score: Rams 23, Seahawks 16
ATS winner: Rams
Total: Under 55
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5, 49.5)
The 49ers, still playing short-handed due to all their injuries, jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Nick Mullen’s 4-yard TD pass on an impressive 13-play, 75-yard opening drive. Robbie Gould then hit a 32-yard FG on the first play of the second quarter to put the 49ers ahead 10-0, but that was pretty much it for the San Fran highlights as the Saints scored 27 unanswered points to take control of the game and easily cover, though they didn’t actually lead by more than the point spread until Will Lutz’s 23-yard FG with 12: 15 left in the fourth quarter put them ahead 20-10.. Alvin Kamara was the star with three TDs (two rushing and one on a 3-yard TD pass from Drew Brees, who had to leave the game with a rib injury).
Final score: Saints 27, 49ers 13
ATS winner: Saints
Total: Under 49.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins (-1.5, 49)
The Dolphins led just 17-14 midway through the third quarter, but Jason Sanders hit a 35-yard FG with 2:30 left in the quarter, followed by Tua Tagovailoa hitting Durham Smythe with a 2-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter and another Sanders’ FG to pull away to a 29-14 lead. Chargers QB Justin Herbert hit Keenan Allen with a 13-yard TD pass with 1:57 to play to get L.A. within one possession at 29-21 and put the game Over 49.5. Tagovailoa won the battle of the rookie QBs (though neither put up big numbers) as he also improved to 3-0 as a starter and has the Dolphins at 6-3 and in the midst of the playoff hunt and just half a game behind the Bills in the AFC East.
Final score: Dolphins 29, Chargers 21
ATS winner: Dolphins
Total: Over 49
Baltimore Ravens (-7, 44) at New England Patriots
Playing in a steady rain, these teams played a scoreless first quarter before Lamar Jackson hit Willie Snead IV for a 6-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter. Cam Newton responded with a 7-yard TD pass to RB Rex Burkhead. After a Justin Tucker FG put the Ravens ahead 10-7, the Patriots closed the scoring in the first half on a 24-yard TD pass from WR Jakobi Meyers to Burkhead. A 4-yard TD run by Newton and a 20-yard FG by Nick Folk put the Patriots ahead 23-10 with 6:24 left in the third quarter. The Ravens managed to cut it to 23-17 on another Jackson-to-Snead TD with :08 left in the third quarter, but they came up short with a scoreless fourth quarter that left the game one TD or two FGs short of going Over. New England was only the second underdog to win outright Sunday (New York Giants were the other) and paid 265 on the moneyline.
Final score: Patriots 23, Ravens 17
ATS winner: Patriots
Total: Under 44
-- Dave Tuley