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NFL Week 8 betting roundup: Big day for underdogs makes it 'best day of the year' for sportsbooks

Sam Cooper
·4-min read

The NFL’s Week 8 was a big week for underdogs, and consequently a big week for sportsbooks.

Underdogs were 8-4 against the spread on Sunday, including six outright winners. Couple in the Atlanta Falcons upset over the Carolina Panthers as 1.5-point underdogs on Thursday night, and you’ve got a 9-4 mark with seven outright victories for underdogs entering Monday Night Football.

The public loves favorites, so it was the worst Sunday of the 2020 NFL season for the betting public. And it was a beautiful day in Las Vegas for the folks over at BetMGM.

“Those underdogs made it a big day for the book. It was probably the worst day of the season for the bettors and the best day of the year for the books,” Jeff Stoneback, Director of Trading for MGM Resorts, told Yahoo Sports.

The biggest upsets of the day for the book were the Minnesota Vikings (+6) beating the Green Bay Packers, the Miami Dolphins (+3.5) beating the Los Angeles Rams, the Cincinnati Bengals (+7) knocking off the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) remaining undefeated with a road win over the rival Baltimore Ravens.

The Packers are ordinarily a very popular public play, and the sharps sniffed that one out and bet the line down from Vikings +7 to Vikings +6. Conversely, the Titans were so popular this week that the point spread moved three points, from Titans -4 to Titans -7, by the time kickoff rolled around. Instead, it ended up being a convincing 31-20 victory by the Bengals, who were led by a strong performance from No. 1 pick Joe Burrow.

The sportsbook was also in an atypical position of rooting for an undefeated team as the Steelers were 3.5-point underdogs against the Ravens. Pittsburgh won 28-24.

“Believe it or not, a team undefeated getting points was a winner for us, too, when the Steelers beat the Ravens,” Stoneback said.

One bettor at MGM had $105,000 on the Ravens to cover the spread, so that was a win for the book. And if you’ve been riding the Steelers wave, you’ve had plenty of wins. Not only are the Steelers undefeated on the field, they have been the top team against the spread in 2020, posting a 6-1 mark.

Chiefs cover huge number vs. Jets

One of the few favorites that did manage to cover the spread on Sunday was the Kansas City Chiefs. And what a spread it was.

The Chiefs opened up as 20-point favorites over the winless Jets and closed at -19.5. The number actually ticked back up to 20 at point on Sunday at BetMGM before settling back at 19.5 before kickoff.

The Jets made things interesting in the first half, at least. Thanks to three field goals from Sergio Castillo, the Jets trailed only 14-9 late in the first half. That was as close as New York would get as Kansas City ended up cruising to a 35-9 win.

Patrick Mahomes finished the afternoon with five touchdown passes. His fifth, a 41-yarder to Tyreek Hill with 10:58 left in the game, put the Chiefs up 35-9. That ended up being the score that covered the spread for Chiefs backers as it extended the lead from 19 to 26 points.

As Yahoo Sports’ Frank Schwab pointed out on Sunday, only 13 games since 1978 have had a point spread of 20 or more points and underdogs were 10-3 against the number in those spots. While the Jets weren’t quite 20-point underdogs, they would not have covered if they were.

The Chiefs are now 6-2 against the spread this season, including a 2-1 mark as a double-digit favorite. The Jets, meanwhile, dropped to 1-6 ATS on the year.

New York Jets linebacker Tarell Basham (93) pressures as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass in the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
New York Jets linebacker Tarell Basham (93) pressures as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass in the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Unders gone with the wind

As the week progressed and as kickoff approached on Sunday, totals for games across the schedule were plummeting. Weather forecasts projected heavy winds for many of Sunday’s games. Rain was also in the forecast in some parts of the country, too, and those who tried to capitalize by betting on the under were not rewarded.

The biggest total movement at BetMGM came in the New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears game. The winds were howling at Soldier Field and the total dropped from 45.5 to 41.5. It took some time, but the over eventually cashed when Chicago cut New Orleans’ lead to 23-20 with 3:32 left in regulation. The Bears would push the game to overtime, but the Saints held on for a 26-23 win.

There was significant total movement in cities like Buffalo, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Green Bay, too, and the over ended up hitting in all three of those games. In all, the over went 8-4 on Sunday.

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