The Kansas City Chiefs are a popular betting play for the public.
It’s understandable. The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions and were a sparkling 13-5-1 against the spread in 2019 — by far the best in the NFL. They started off the 2020 season by covering the spread in six of their first eight games, but have now failed to cover in back-to-back weeks.
After the Chiefs failed to cover the 10-point spread against the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago, Jeff Stoneback, the Director of Trading at BetMGM, told Yahoo Sports that “any time the Chiefs don’t cover, that’s good for the house.”
That certainly was the case again on Sunday as the Chiefs went on the road to face the Las Vegas Raiders as 7.5-point favorites. The Chiefs managed to pull out a 35-31 win, thanks to a Patrick Mahomes 22-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce with 28 seconds remaining, but they failed to cover the spread.
It was the most-bet game of the day at BetMGM and was the biggest winner of the day for the sportsbook, Stoneback told Yahoo Sports.
The Chiefs are now 6-4 against the number in 2020, so it’s not such a sure thing to back Kansas City like it was last year. There’s a common thread to those ATS losses, too. The Chiefs are now 3-4 against the spread when favored by more than seven points.
A more surprising trend is the fact that the Chiefs are 1-3 ATS in divisional games after going 5-0-1 ATS against AFC West opponents in 2019. In non-division games, the Chiefs are 5-1 ATS, so perhaps next week’s game at Tampa Bay could be a time to cash in.
Brutal Sunday for bettors
The Chiefs game wasn’t the only big win for sportsbooks on Sunday.
Underdogs covered in seven of Sunday’s 12 games at BetMGM, including outright wins from the Carolina Panthers (+3 vs. Detroit Lions), Tennessee Titans (+6.5 at Baltimore Ravens), Houston Texans (+2 vs. New England Patriots), Denver Broncos (+4 vs. Miami Dolphins) and Dallas Cowboys (+7.5 at Minnesota Vikings).
In addition to the Raiders covering vs. the Chiefs, Stoneback pointed to the Broncos, Texans and Panthers as the biggest wins of the day for the book among underdogs. That group included a losing $110,000 bet on the Patriots to cover vs. the Texans.
Two favorites — the Washington Football Team (-1.5) vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts (-2) vs. the Green Bay Packers — were also big wins for the book. The Packers are always a popular public play, even as an underdog. MGM received a $110,000 bet on the Bengals. Stoneback said Washington’s 20-9 win was a “really big one.”
“It’s been a rough stretch for the bettors,” Stoneback told Yahoo Sports.
Browns only winning bet for public
Stoneback said the only winning game for the public on Sunday came in Cleveland where the Browns improved to 7-3 by beating the hapless Philadelphia Eagles 22-17 to cover the 2.5-point spread.
The point spread actually moved a point in favor of the Eagles over the course of the week, but the Browns still covered comfortably. The game was not as close as the final score might make it seem as the Eagles added a garbage-time touchdown with 30 seconds remaining.
“Believe it or not, there was only one game that the public won in the whole slate of games,” Stoneback told Yahoo Sports. “That was the Browns over the Eagles even though they opened -3.5 and the professionals bet them down to -2.5. We took a couple six-figure wagers on the Browns, so that was the only bright spot for the bettors today.”
As Stoneback mentioned, MGM had to pay out two big bets on the Browns. One was a $250,000 wager on the Browns -2.5 at odds of -140, so that yielded a return of $178.575 for the bettor. Another bet of $105,000 came in on the Browns -3, which paid out $100,000.
Sunday’s game was the first time the Browns covered the spread since their Oct. 11 win over the Colts, but betting against the Eagles has been a sound strategy in 2020. The Eagles are now 3-7 against the spread on the year, tied with the New York Jets for the second-worst ATS mark in the NFL in 2020. Only the Dallas Cowboys, now 2-8 against the number, have been worse.
The under has also been profitable in Eagles games. Eagles games have gone under the total four straight times and in six of their last eight games.
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