MLB: Underdogs went 7-5 Monday; biggest upset was by Cubs (+144 vs. Reds) as they won their 7th straight game; faves, who were closing in on 60% for the season, dipped to 1,189-804 (59.7%) with 49 PKs; Unders went 7-5 to increase slim lead to 982-970-84 (50.3%).
NCAAF: Mississippi routed Louisville 43-24 Monday night (coasting home after leading 26-0 at halftime) to wrap up CFB Week 1: Rebels also covered as 9-point favorites (game stayed Under betting total of 74.5 points)
MLB: Favorites went 8-7 Tuesday, including Reds (-145) snapping Cubs' 7-game winning streak; biggest upsets by Angels (+263 at Padres) & Blue Jays Leop (+205 at Yankees); faves lead 1,197-811 (59.6%); O/U split 6-6-3, Unders' lead at 988-976-87 (50.3%)
MLB: Underdogs went 10-5 Wednesday, including Blue Jays (+112 at Yankees) winning 7th straight game; biggest upset by Nationals (+180 at Braves); favorites' lead dipped to 1,202-821 (59.4%); Unders went 10-5 to increase lead to 998-981-87 (50.4%)
NFL: Buccaneers beat Cowboys 31-29 on Ryan Succop's 36-yard FG with 2 seconds left. Bucs did NOT cover as 9-point home favorites & only covered on teasers for those who teased down to -1.5 or better (went Over 52.5 points).
MLB: Underdogs went 5-3 (15-8 last 2 days), including Blue Jays (+104 at Yankees) winning 8th straight; biggest upset by Rockies (+162 at Phillies); faves still lead 1,205-826 (59.3%); Unders went 6-2, increase lead to 1,004-983-87 (50.5%).
NCAAF: Stanford (+17.5, +637 ML) upset No. 14 USC 42-28 late Saturday. Earlier, No. 12 Oregon upset No. 3 Ohio State 35-28. Ducks closed as 15-point road underdogs & +500 on the money line. Only other Top 25 teams to lose outright were No. 15 Texas in 40-21 loss at Arkansas (+6, +190 ML) & No. 21 Utah in 26-17 loss at BYU (+7.5, +230 ML).
MLB: Favorites went 9-7 Saturday; Yankees (-115) outlasted Mets 8-7 in game played in New York on 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack; faves lead 1,224-838 (59.4%) on season; Overs went 12-3-1, cutting Unders’ lead to 1,012-1,003-90 (50.2%)
Underdogs went 10-3 against the spread and unders went 9-4, heading into Sunday Night Football – usually a bad combination for the betting public.
Perhaps the sportsbooks’ week can be best summarized by Ed Salmons, vice president of risk at SuperBook Sports: “It was a great week.”
Let’s run through some of the bigger bets and notable decisions for the sportsbooks in Week 1 of the NFL season.
Lions with an all-time backdoor cover
The San Francisco 49ers were heavy public favorites with nearly every book I spoke with having at least 70% of bets and 75% of the money wagered on the 49ers to cover the spread. WynnBet had a staggering 96% of the money wagered on the 49ers to cover the spread and Caesars Sports wasn’t far behind at 83%. The 49ers closed as consensus 9.5-point road favorites against the Detroit Lions, the highest line on Sunday, though the line was at 7.5 much of the week.
San Francisco was comfortably ahead 41-17, before Detroit scored two TDs (aided by an onside kick recovery) and converted two two-point conversions to make the final 41-33. The Lions even had a final chance to score a TD before turning the ball over on downs.
“Lions backdoor push was a pretty brutal push for the public,” BetRivers sportsbook manager Zach Schlouch told VSiN. “We had 80% of the tickets and 83% laid the points, the vast majority at 8. It was also the highest volume game of the early window.”
Seahawks a rare public win One of the most interesting spreads in Week 1 was in Seattle-Indianapolis, which had a range of Colts -2.5 to its closing line of Seahawks -2.5 after being as high as Seahawks -3 for much of the week. The Seahawks covering the spread was the highest liability of the early games at TwinSpires Sportsbook and a massive decision for most sportsbooks. Over 80% of the bets and 86% of the handle was on Seattle to cover at DraftKings, though PointsBet was one of the few books that needed the Seahawks due to a $15,000 wager on the Colts + 3.
The Seahawks won 28-16 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score, leading to one of the few wins of the day for public bettors.
“The two best games for the players were the Seahawks and the Broncos,” Stations sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “But overall it was a really good opening week for the books.”
Saints demolish Packers ... and bettors
Any sportsbook you spoke with on Sunday was loaded with money on the Green Bay Packers (-3.5) to beat the New Orleans Saints, but the line actually dipped from -4 to -3.5, indicating some respected money was on New Orleans to cover. The Saints did plenty more than cover, dominating Green Bay and crushing many moneyline parlays and Packers bets. A remarkable 87% of bets and 92% of the money at DraftKings was on the Packers to cover, and the story was similar at other books (87% at Caesars, 80% PointsBet, 66% at BetMGM).
“Best results for us were the Panthers and Seahawks covering, the Saints’ upset of the Packers and the Chargers beating Washington,” Thomas Gable, sportsbook director at The Borgata in New Jersey said.
“The Panthers was a big win for the public in the early window, with 70% of bets and 76% of the money on Carolina,” Schlouch noted. “But the Pack game was likely the determining factor overall. It was the most lopsided game in terms of splits (86% of handle on Green Bay spread, 90% on moneyline) and the Green Bay spread generated the most handle of any individual bet on the entire board.
Notable winning bets
$400,000 on Rams -8 at BetMGM
$110,000 on 2H Over 28 in Browns-Chiefs at BetMGM
$100,000 on Panthers ML (-200) vs. Jets at FanDuel
DraftKings, FanDuel and other online betting platforms have become some of the biggest winners in the sports-betting explosion. DraftKings generated $614 million in revenue in 2020 and expects to cash in a cool $1 billion this year. FanDuel's parent company Flutter Entertainment said its 2020 betting revenue was $896 million, an 81% spike from 2019.
Entering Monday Night Football, one bettor was on the precipice of turning $25 into $726,959 at BetMGM via a 16-leg NFL parlay.
Yes, you read that correctly: $726,959!
All this bettor needed was the Detroit Lions to win outright as 11.5-point underdogs on the road against the Green Bay Packers. To that point in Week 2, this bettor had accurately picked the 15 other NFL games on the moneyline.
One of the biggest underdogs of the weekend, however, was standing in the way. The Lions, who had +400 odds on the moneyline, jumped out to a 14-7 lead but ended up losing 35-17.
With a Lions loss always seeming like a pretty likely outcome, you couldn’t help but wonder if this bettor was able to cash out before risking such an enormous sum of money.
Thanks to BetMGM, that’s exactly what happened. BetMGM said Wednesday morning that the bettor was able to cash out for $133,000 (pre-tax, of course).
There’s another layer to this, too. The 16-team parlay was actually made using a free $25 promotional bet. Ordinarily, BetMGM does not provide a cash-out option for free bets. This time, though, the company made an exception “due to the amazing picks and unlikely odds.”
NFL dogs continued their hot streak on Sunday, going 8-5 ATS across the Week 3 action. Dogs are now 30-17 ATS (64 percent) to start the season. The best dog spot so far this season has been short road dogs 6 or less. They went 4-1 ATS yesterday and are now 14-2 ATS (88 percent) through three weeks. Unders stole the show yesterday, going 10-4. Unders are now 28-19 (60 percent) on the season.
The NFL is the most popular sport with the betting public. Through three weeks, taking a contrarian angle with dogs and unders has been a smart decision
NFL: Cowboys routed the Eagles 41-21 on Monday Night Football to wrap up NFL Week 3. The Cowboys also covered as 3.5-point home favorites (the game went Over the betting total of 51.5). Faves went 9-6 SU for the week with the Buccaneers-Rams game closing pick-'em, but dogs led 8-7 ATS; home/road teams split 8-8 SU & ATS for week; Unders went 11-5.
More NFL: Faves lead 26-21 SU so far on the season with that one pick-’em, but dogs lead 29-18 ATS (61.7 percent). Road teams lead 24-23 SU with 1 neutral-site game (Packers-Saints in Week 1) and 26-21 ATS (55.3 percent). Unders lead 28-20 (58.3 percent), though prime-time Overs are 8-1, so Sunday day-time Unders are 27-12 (69.2 percent).
MLB: Favorites went 4-1 on Monday's light schedule with the only upset by the Nationals (+ 147 at Rockies). Faves lead 1,347-918 (59.5 percent) on the season with 55 games closing pick-'em. Overs went 4-1 Monday as Unders' slim lead on the season was cut to 1,113-1,100-101 (50.3 percent).
NFL: Buccaneers held off Patriots 19-17 in the Brady-Belichick Bowl on Sunday Night Football, but the Bucs did NOT cover after closing as popular 7-point road favorites. The game stayed way Under the betting total of 49 points in the rain as prime-time Overs dipped to 8-3 on the season). Faves went 7-6 SU on Sunday with Browns-Vikings closing pick-'em, but underdogs led 7-6 ATS thanks to the Bucs’ non-cover (only winner to not cover on the day). Faves are 8-6 SU so far in Week 4, but dogs lead 8-6 ATS, including the Bengals’ non-cover on Thursday Night Football. Dogs lead 37-24 ATS (60.7 percent) on the season with two pick-’ems. Road teams went 9-5 SU and 8-6 ATS on Sunday. Road teams lead 9-6 SU and ATS in Week 4, including TNF, and on season at 33-29 SU w/ 1 neutral-site game (Packers-Saints in Week 1) and 35-27 ATS (56.5 percent). Over/Unders split 7-7 Sunday, but Unders lead 8-7 on the week and 36-27 (57.1 percent) on the season.
More NFL: Sunday started with faves going 5-3 SU and ATS in the early games with Browns-Vikings closing pick-’em. The three covering dogs all pulled outright upsets: Jets (+ 7 in 27-24 OT win vs. Titans), Colts (+ 2.5 in 27-17 win at Dolphins) and Giants (+ 7 in 27-21 OT win at Saints). Road teams started the day at 5-4 SU and ATS while Overs went 6-3 in the early session. In the “afternoon” games, dogs went 3-1 SU and ATS with the Packers (-6) the only fave to cover. The upsets were by the Cardinals (+ 4 at Rams), Seahawks (+ 2.5 at 49ers) and Ravens (+ 1 at Broncos). Road teams went 3-1 SU and ATS in the afternoon as all four games had home faves. Unders went 3-1 in the afternoon with the Cardinals-Rams game the only Over.
MLB: Red Sox (-210) and Yankees (-130) won on Sunday’s last day of the regular season to clinch the American League’s two wild-card spots. The two rivals will face off in a one-game playoff on Tuesday with the Yankees opening as -115 road favorites with Gerrit Cole vs. Nathan Eovaldi. The Giants (-220) routed the Padres 11-4 to clinch the NL West over the Dodgers, who are -205 home faves vs. the Cardinals in the NL wild-card game on Wednesday with Max Scherzer vs. Adam Wainwright
More MLB: Favorites went 10-5 on Sunday and finished the regular season at 1,403-950 (59.6 percent) with 55 games closing pick-'em. Overs went 7-5-3 on Sunday -- yes, 3 pushes, in Red-Pirates (9), Rockies-Diamondbacks (9) and Twins-Royals (10) games. However, Unders still finished ahead of Overs for the season at 1,154-1,141-107 (50.3 percent).
Underdogs continue to be the way to look in the NFL this year as they’re still hitting at 37-24 ATS (60.7 percent) on the season with two pick-’ems. And it’s not just the “good” teams covering as dogs like the Cardinals, Seahawks and Ravens on Sunday afternoon. The Jets, Giants and Colts all won their first games after 0-3 starts. As we saw above, Survivor players trying to fade those teams (and trying to save the Bills for another week down the line) paid the price by being eliminated this week. Parity is alive and well in the NFL and it pays to find those live dogs.
And I know a lot of bettors were starting to fade this year’s rookie class of QBs who have all been off to rough starts, but Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars covered on Thursday night in a SU loss to the Bengals, Zach Wilson came through in the Jets’ upset of the Titans, Justin Fields and the Bears beat the Lions and Mac Jones covered in the Patriots’ SU loss to the Buccaneers.
Home-field continues to be negligible. In fact, road teams – which we pointed out above are 33-29 SU with 1 neutral-site game (Packers-Saints in Week 1) and 35-27 ATS (56.5 percent) – have not had a losing week yet this season either SU or ATS.
A bettor made waves this week by placing a season-high bet on the Buffalo Bills, wagering $500,000 through Caesars Sportsbook that Buffalo would cover its 16.5-point spread against the Houston Texans on Sunday. The inherent risk was notable, with such a high wager accompanying the largest spread so far this season.
While the Bills covered easily with their 40-0 win – and netted the bettor $454,545 – the tension accompanying Sunday's victory must have been high in the first half, with Josh Allen throwing an interception on his first pass and Buffalo settling for field goals on three first-half drives.
The $500,000 wager was matched shortly after on Caesars by a bettor who picked the Patriots plus seven points vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football, and another who took the Chicago Bears giving three against the Detroit Lions. The Bears won 24-14.