Another week of wild finishes, spread swings, and nail biters. Welcome to the NFL. Sports betting has made this even crazier than before.
Before we get into the recap, a lot of credit deserves to go out to all the sharps and squares who have taken the leap of faith and gone with the new books in New Jersey. A lot of people gave the bettors a lot of grief for going with the regulated market. You made it work.
Big numbers came out Friday from New Jersey on sports betting. Doesn’t matter if you’re battling traffic on the Turnpike, GSP, AC Expressway, or just handicapping from home. People are working in the industry, ads are being sold, lawmakers in other states are seeing this is a viable option. You the real MVPs.
Public split on Thursday night
Thursday night was the first big test of the public’s motives in playing the NFL. The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, the two big local rivals and two big drivers of action, met at the Meadowlands. Who would the public back?
DraftKings Sportsbook and William Hill saw the two teams supported evenly, with a slight edge to Philly in spread money on a line that dropped from -3 to -1.5 or lower across the board. At Hill, fans were expecting big nights from Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, who carved up the Eagles secondary in two losses last year. Not as much was projected from Saquon Barkley, who saw more tickets bought to go over 58.5 yards but 90% of the public money on the under prop.
The Eagles looked vulnerable after two losses. The Giants looked good after just losing in Carolina. That lasted two snaps.
An early pick turned into an Eagles TD set the tone for a game that wasn’t as close as the 34-13 final suggested. Carson Wentz moved the offense at will, looking like the QB of last year. Manning was booed all night for short throws and long pocket times. OBJ got in a fight with an inanimate object — again. Barkley was the only glimmer of hope for Big Blue, easily eclipsing the running yards total. The public did correctly support Wentz’s yardage under of 280.5 — he finished with just 277.
The biggest line move this week in points came in the Bears-Dolphins game. The game opened with the visitors favored by 4 or so, pending the book. That line jumped to over a touchdown when Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was ruled out and Brock Osweiler got the start under center. At William Hill, the line jump pushed the Bears to the biggest public support on the day, earning 85% of the public money on the spread, up from 75% on Thursday. Fans in Miami enjoyed a thrilling shootout won by the Fins at the overtime gun.
Late money did help two public positions for those playing William Hill. It flipped the Vikings, who were the biggest favorite at DraftKings (almost 97% of handle went against the Cardinals). The Bills reversed their position against the Texans, after leading in tickets sold, which was also a public win at DK.
The wild finish in Cincinnati also benefited the public. Antonio Brown’s late TD flipped the spread and covered for the Steelers, who got over 80% backing at DraftKings and over two-thirds at William Hill.
Dallas’ home upset of Jacksonville scored a win for the books, as did the Rams’ inability to cover in chilly Denver.
Remember how the line shifts in the Monday night match-up between the Chiefs and Broncos led to a public win? Sunday night, the half-point made for full heartache.
Late money on William Hill flipped the public support from the undefeated Chiefs to the Patriots, giving 3.5 at home. A big lead at halftime convinced many New England had an easy win and fans probably switched over to the ALCS.
However, the Chiefs wouldn’t go quietly. They even led in the fourth quarter. With Tom Brady leading an offense, no lead is ever safe. A long toss to Gronk set up an easy field goal to hand KC its first loss of the season 43-40. However, that half point kept the Chiefs undefeated ATS.