You don’t often see an NFL line move 4 points in the 48 hours before kickoff, barring a major injury or suspension. NFL lines are too tight to be that far off.
And it’s even more rare to see the line move that drastically against a hyped Dallas Cowboys team.
Last Friday, the Cowboys were 3-point favorites at the Los Angeles Rams. That line was roughly the same through the entire offseason. BetMGM put Week 1 lines up in May and the Cowboys were 2.5-point favorites. Then the line started to move over the weekend. And move. And move. By the time kickoff came on Sunday night, the Rams were favored by a point.
Dallas is perhaps the most public team there is; the Cowboys’ fanbase is enormous and they like betting on their team. It would be more understandable to see a line move 4 points toward the Cowboys’ side than the other way.
The line seemed to be moved by sharp action, since there was a much higher percentage of money than bets on the Rams according to Action Network (which indicates the largest bets were on the Rams), and those bettors got paid off. Barely.
The biggest headline from the Sunday night game was a penalty in the final minute. Michael Gallup seemed to have caught a 47-yard pass that would have at least given Dallas a short field goal to tie the game, but it was wiped out on a pass interference call. On NBC, color analyst Cris Collinsworth and officiating expert Terry McAulay both thought Gallup shouldn’t have been called for a penalty. After two incompletions, the Rams secured a 20-17 win and won the money no matter what spread bettors got them at.
It’s a good reminder: When it comes to betting, or most things in life, follow the money.
Here are the winners and losers from the past week in sports betting:
NFL favorites and overs: The public might have done OK to start the NFL season.
Typically, casual bettors take favorites and overs. That paid off pretty well through Sunday’s games in Week 1, as favorites went 9-5 against the spread. The over hit in eight of 13 games on Sunday, and depending which number you got for Houston Texans-Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, that over hit too.
Because this season will be defined mostly by COVID-19 changes, we’ll look for clues on how this season, with no offseason or preseason, will be different. If you thought offenses would be slow to start, that didn’t hold true based on the overs hitting. Home-field advantage was about normal, with home teams going 8-6 straight up and against the spread.
Maybe there was something to be said for continuity; 2019 playoff teams facing teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season went 5-2, with the Tennessee Titans still to play on Monday night. The six teams The Athletic graded as having the most continuity heading into the season (Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers) went 5-1 straight up and against the spread, with each of the winners covering pretty easily. Then again, the New England Patriots had one of the worst continuity scores and they covered easily.
One week isn’t enough to draw any conclusions on how this season will play out. But we’ll all search for some answers in the meantime.
Tampa Bay Lightning for Stanley Cup: If you watched this space a few weeks ago, you heard that the Lightning were pretty good value at +850 to win the Cup. it didn’t matter for one bettor who dropped a fortune on a Vegas Golden Knights bet.
Major Wager 🚨— BetMGM (@BetMGM) September 8, 2020
$175,000 payout on the line if the Golden Knights win the cup 💰 pic.twitter.com/OTvvrO4f3p
The Golden Knights are in trouble, down 3-1 in the Western Conference final to the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, the Lightning cruised to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday and lead the Eastern Conference final 3-1. They have outscored the Boston Bruins and Islanders 34-16 since dropping Game 1 against the Bruins.
Tampa Bay has taken over as the clear favorite to win it all at -150. The Stars are second at +235. The Golden Knights have crept up to +630 and the Islanders are +3500.
Crazy college football upsets: In the most unusual college football season ever, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised at some stunning results.
It was a wild Saturday around college football. Two Sun Belt teams headlined the craziness. Arkansas State, which was a 15.5-point underdog and +450 on the moneyline at BetMGM, upset Kansas State 35-31 on a last-minute touchdown. One bettor had a $110,000 second-half bet on Arkansas State +7 and won $100,000.
Louisiana was a 13-point underdog and +370 on the moneyline, and they won easily. They beat No. 23 Iowa State 31-14. A two-team Sun Belt underdog moneyline parlay would have paid about 25-to-1.
Iowa State: We are going to be the worst bet of the day.— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) September 12, 2020
Kansas State: Hold my beer. pic.twitter.com/YOjqOEkRVB
Big upsets weren’t just for the Sun Belt. Georgia Tech beat Florida State straight up as 14-point underdogs. Houston Baptist, which was as high as a 42-point underdog during the week, nearly pulled off a historic upset against Texas Tech. HBU lost 35-33, covering the spread by more than five touchdowns.
The good teams in college football might not be so invincible this season.
A big Browns Super Bowl bet: Last week, a bettor came into Bellagio and put $10,000 on the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl at 35-to-1 odds.
That bettor should have waited a week. He would have got much longer odds after the Browns were annihilated in Week 1. Cleveland is 50-to-1 as of Monday morning.
The Browns were on the receiving end of the worst Week 1 loss, getting blasted 38-6 by the Baltimore Ravens. Perhaps that performance says more about the strength of the Ravens going forward, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the Browns. They were a huge disappointment last season, changed coaches, and it didn’t seem like much changed. The Browns play on Thursday night and are 6-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals at BetMGM, if you feel good about them rebounding.
They need to play better than they did Sunday, to at least provide a little hope for the bettor with that big Browns Super Bowl ticket.
Los Angeles Clippers futures bettors: The Clippers might still end up winning the Western Conference. But they’re making it tougher on those who hold tickets for them to win the West.
Bettors have been loading up on the Clippers. A staggering 64.8% of the money bet on Western Conference championship futures came in on the Clippers. BetMGM said if the Clippers win the West, it could be a six-figure loss for the book.
When the Clippers were up 3-1 in the series against the Denver Nuggets, it looked inevitable we’d get a Lakers-Clippers conference final. Then the Clippers blew big second-half leads in back-to-back games and we’re heading to Game 7 on Tuesday. Despite the consecutive losses, the Clippers 7-point favorites.
It’s obvious which side BetMGM will be rooting for.
About 30 percent of survivor pool entries: There aren’t many things more demoralizing than entering a survivor pool and not even lasting through the first week.
Thanks a lot, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles.
To the 21% who picked the Colts and 9% who picked the Eagles in survivor pools. pic.twitter.com/V5pitxCCJI— Yahoo Fantasy Sports (@YahooFantasy) September 13, 2020
It always seems so easy, just picking one winner a week. Survivor pools are a great reminder of how hard it is to predict the NFL.
NFL underdogs on the moneyline: It’s fairly rare for an underdog in the NFL to cover and not win. If you bet an underdog, you’re generally better off playing the moneyline than taking points.
That held true on Sunday. Favorites went 9-5 through Sunday’s games in Week 1 (if you score the Los Angeles Chargers as 2.5-point favorites and not 3). And of the five underdogs that covered, all of them won straight up.
There’s comfort in taking the points with any underdog, but often in NFL betting you’d end up happier taking the team getting points to win straight up.
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