A truly unusual trend is happening through three weeks of the NFL season: The house isn’t winning.
Thanks in part to favorites and overs hitting at a high rate, bettors at BetMGM had two winning weeks to start the NFL season. Week 3 was finally a win for the sportsbook, until Monday night.
The Kansas City Chiefs-Baltimore Ravens game was a big one for sportsbooks, and two trends emerged in the betting. Most of the bets on the side were on the Chiefs. It’s not often you can get Patrick Mahomes as a 3.5-point underdog. And bettors could not get enough of the over, pushing the line up to 55 before kickoff after opening at 52.5.
The result was a great one for bettors. The Chiefs won outright, 34-20. And the total was a tough loss for BetMGM. It landed at 54, meaning all the early bets on the over hit, and any bet on under 54.5 or 55 was a winner as well.
“The house turned out to be a loser tonight,” Jeff Stoneback, the director of trading for MGM resorts, said. “We were bragging yesterday it was our first win in three weeks, and we gave it all back tonight.”
Stoneback said there was a $60,000 parlay on the Chiefs and under 55, a $250,000 bet on the Chiefs and an $80,000 bet on the Chiefs’ moneyline.
“The bettors did well today, as they have all season long,” Stoneback said.
The week started to turn on Sunday night, when the Green Bay Packers got late action and covered easily. Then Monday was a rough one for the sportsbooks.
How long will that last? The NFL is notoriously difficult to bet, because lines are sharp. Sportsbooks can’t afford to have bettors taking advantage of bad NFL lines because every game gets a lot of action. To this point, it has been a profitable run for bettors. The unusual NFL season is going to have a lot of surprises, but nothing will be more surprising than if the house can’t turn it around and have a winning season.
Here are the winners and losers from the past week in sports betting:
All Bears backers: For anyone who had the Bears in Week 3— and plenty did, since the point spread kept moving their way before kickoff — Sunday’s win will live on for a long time.
Let’s take one more look back at one of the greatest wins any bettor will ever have. The Atlanta Falcons had a 99 percent chance to win according to win probability models. They also had a 99 percent chance to win against the Dallas Cowboys, and we remember how that turned out.
The Bears wouldn’t quit. They had a great comeback from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to win. Chicago didn’t even have to call a timeout in the fourth quarter, which speaks to the stunning failure of the Falcons.
It was especially profitable for one bettor.
— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) September 27, 2020
The Bears have won two games against the spread they had no business winning. They had a great comeback in Week 1 at Detroit and won when D’Andre Swift dropped a sure touchdown in the final 10 seconds. Chicago hasn’t won convincingly yet, but bettors who had them at Atlanta will just remember a crazy, fun win.
Miami Heat: Sportsbooks might be losing on the NFL, but the Heat’s playoff run has helped.
The Heat’s Eastern Conference Finals win over the Boston Celtics was good for BetMGM. The sportsbook had a big liability on the Celtics to win the East. They also had plenty of bets on the Bucks to win the title, and the Heat took care of them in the second round.
The house will be rooting for the Heat again in the Finals. Their second-biggest liability on NBA championship future bets was on the Lakers, who are a popular team in Las Vegas and one of the biggest brands in sports, especially with LeBron James. The Heat are +300 to win the NBA Finals, which start Wednesday, and the Lakers are -358. BetMGM will be hoping Miami can pull off one more big upset.
UFC bettors: Before UFC 253, bettors liked one underdog and one favorite in the two big fights.
They liked Israel Adesanya as a -182 favorite to beat Paulo Costa in the main event, with more than 70 percent of the money coming in on Adesanya. In the co-main event, about 70 percent of the money was on Jan Blachowicz, a big +230 underdog, to beat Dominick Reyes.
Bettors had a clean sweep. Blachowicz won for a nice payout as a big underdog, then Adesanya handled business in the main event and won easily. It was a good weekend overall for plenty of bettors. That will give bettors a little extra money for a big week, which includes the start of the NBA Finals, Major League Baseball’s Wild Card Series (find our predictions here), the French Open and another big weekend of football. Enjoy.
One bettor who didn’t get a big win on Monday night: Just about everyone cashed a winning ticket on the total in Monday night’s Chiefs-Ravens game. A couple hours before kickoff, 85.0% of tickets and 91.2% of the handle at BetMGM was on the over. And anyone who took the under late, when it went above 54, cashed too.
Somehow, one bettor ended up taking a big loss when he or she got the over at 54.5.
— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) September 28, 2020
The circumstances of the game made it especially tough. There were 37 points in the first half. The Chiefs offense suddenly stalled in the third quarter, not scoring at all. A 6:41 touchdown drive by the Chiefs in the fourth quarter bled most of the time off the clock. Also, normally reliable Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed an extra point and a field goal in the game. Ouch.
It’s always sharp to get the best number, ahead of a line move. Sometimes, it can be an expensive mistake to wait too long.
Dallas Cowboys (but was it a bad beat?): The Cowboys, one of the most hyped teams of the offseason, are 0-3 against the spread. They probably should have covered on Sunday.
Anyone who had Dallas as a 5.5-point underdog is still complaining today. Dallas led 31-30 late, and all Seattle needed was a field goal to take the lead. But Russell Wilson wanted the touchdown. On third-and-3, Wilson threw deep and hit DK Metcalf for a 29-yard touchdown. Most teams wouldn’t trust their quarterback to make that throw in that situation. But Wilson is special. Dallas bettors were still OK with Seattle leading 36-31, but a roughing the passer penalty on a two-point conversion gave the Seahawks another shot, and they converted. The game ended up 38-31 with Seattle winning and covering the spread.
Some bettors think every gambling loss is a bad beat. The truth is, Dallas’ defense isn’t good and the Cowboys got very lucky when Metcalf eased up before scoring and fumbled a touchdown away early in the game. It’s probably not a bad beat for Cowboys backers, but it still stung.
Iowa State, which was undoubtedly a bad beat: If you want a textbook definition of a bad beat, just check out how the Iowa State-TCU game ended. Anyone who had Iowa State -3.5, turn away.
Iowa State -3.5 was the right play. Until it wasn’t. pic.twitter.com/c11UREdtAP
— Yahoo Sportsbook (@YahooSportsbook) September 26, 2020
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