Some teams got to open presents early, thanks to Week 16 wins that guaranteed postseason berths. Others got the metaphorical pink bunny onesie and lost their chances at the playoffs.
Week 16 saw some teams punch their playoff tickets, while others were eliminated. There’s still a thrilling Week 17 to go but let’s first take at how bettors fared on Festivus. Trust me, there were some Airings of Grievances.
The last weekend before Christmas isn’t a time to find many merry souls. Finalizing travel plans, battling mall traffic, finding that perfect gift can turn anyone into a Grinch. The NFL tries to help alleviate stress with two weekends of Saturday games. That seemed fine, until people got the rights to bet on the games in places besides Nevada.
The Week 16 slate started with an interconference between two teams fighting for their playoff lives. Tennessee overcame a strong effort from Josh Johnson and losing starting QB Marcus Mariota to take a late lead at home over Washington. Malcolm Butler sealed the win with a game-ending pick-six.
But wait – what of the PAT that would’ve set the final score at 26-16, meaning a push at William Hill? Nope, not after the clock runs out and the result is certain. Dustin Hopkins missed one early and the Titans only won by 9. The team survives for next week’s eliminator with Indy, but the 55% of bettors who took the 10 were left with a wild bat beat story.
The nightcap was in the LA suburb of Carson, where the Chargers hosted the Ravens to a crowd that would be a disappointing turnout for a USC practice. (I’ll take mismanaged moves for 600, Alex). More disappointing may have been that Baltimore won on the road, muscling their way into a win-and-in scenario to claim the AFC North next week.
With all the options available to players in NJ, it’s important to know where to get the best price. My Monday columns always focus on where to get the half-point extra value (or more) for your position.
Well, that came into play Sunday afternoon in South Philly. There was some variance once pricing opened for the Texans-Eagles match-up. William Hill drew a lot of business with the home team giving 2.5, while PlaySugarHouse offered Philly -1.5, a line reportedly moved on both sides of the river as kickoff neared. Fans went for Philly at William Hill, 80% of the money bet on the Eagles in the book’s highest handle for Sunday.
Remember when the league said they were moving the extra point line of scrimmage back to make it a bigger challenge? Well, kickers aren’t the only ones sweating now. Both teams missed PATs, meaning Houston led by 1 in the final minutes. However, Jake Elliott struck it between the uprights, forcing the Texans to wait another week to clinch the AFC South and giving the Delaware Valley another week to believe in St. Nick.
That half-point made a difference between a good win at Hill and another big players win at SugarHouse.
Sunday was a good day for players who picked road teams, which is usually risky in late December. Minnesota got a necessary win at Detroit, cashing for the 75% of money they drew on their spread. They need to defeat Chicago, who covered at San Francisco with 70% of the money bet, to earn the final wild card spot.
Green Bay took their time but a touchdown in OT vaulted them over the Jets and made winners of the 67% bet on them giving 3. Even the Rams, who have struggled ATS this year and lost outright to Philly last week, covered over 2 TDs in the desert and thumped Arizona.
Big home favorites struggled in the AFC. The Patriots, the biggest of the group, giving 13.5 to the Bills and fetching 77% of the money bet on the spread, won but only by 12. Cleveland won but two late TDs (and one 2-pt conversion) cost them covering the 9.5 they laid against in-state rival Cincinnati. The Colts won late but couldn’t cover the 9.5 they laid against the visiting Giants.
No place like home for the holidays
Some sanity was restored with the night games. Seattle pulled a home upset of Kansas City, who tied Philly with the biggest share of money bet on the spread (80%). The win means the Seahawks clinch the first wild card spot. KC, well, we’ve seen this from Andy Reid before…
Monday Night was what could be the last meeting of old AFL rivals at the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders hosted the Broncos on Christmas Eve. History, sentiment, or the fact that both teams were out of the playoffs, something drove bettors to take Oakland (66%). The Raiders gave the fans at the Black Hole one last present: a win.
Much of the off-season will include conversations on where the Raiders will play their final season in NorCal before departing for Vegas after the city took the team to court over leaving. Maybe you can’t go home, especially if you skip out on the rent.