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Veteran sports reporter Josh Katzenstein, who has covered both the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints, takes a deep dive into the weekend’s betting slips in the NFL and college football, including where the money went, the bad beats, amazing covers, stunning parlays and more.
At the midway point of the NFL season, the good teams have started separating themselves, and bettors seemed to adjust in Week 8.
Six of the eight division leaders played Sunday, and four of the six teams covered — the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers all made chalk bettors happy.
Among the two division leaders who failed to cover was the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs at +5, who were playing as home underdogs without starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes against the NFC North-leading Packers. The other was the Indianapolis Colts, who were 6-point home favorites but narrowly beat the Denver Broncos, 15-13.
Going chalk can often be disappointing for bettors, but this past Sunday was the time to do it as most of the games were relatively easy wins and covers for the week’s biggest favorites.
Standings aside, four of the five biggest spreads on Sundays featured covers by the favorites, which is costly for sportsbooks.
“Yesterday we got whacked pretty good,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill.
The three biggest spreads Sunday were the Los Angeles Rams -12 against the Bengals in London, the Saints -12 at home against the Arizona Cardinals and the Patriots -10.5 at home against the Cleveland Browns. The favorite covered in all three, and bettors were all over the Rams and Patriots.
The next biggest line was the Seattle Seahawks -8 on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. The Seahawks were in line to cover nearly the entire game and even led 24-0 at halftime, but the Falcons pulled off the surprising cover with a late field goal that made the final 27-20.
The Jacksonville Jaguars -7 was the fifth-biggest line, and they covered easily with a 29-15 win over the visiting New York Jets.
Bogdanovich said the Sunday night game between the Packers and Chiefs was costly for William Hill. Bettors favored the Packers at -5 significantly, and Green Bay’s 31-24 win and cover helped a lot of parlays and teasers hit.
“That was a monster, monster game,” Bogdanovich said.
The Colts failing to cover helped William Hill a little as 91% of spread tickets and 80% of the handle backed Indianapolis. But Bogdanovich said a Broncos outright win would have been better for the book because many parlays had the Colts moneyline. Indianapolis needed a 51-yard field goal in the final minute by Adam Vinatieri to win.
Still, this was a particularly strong Sunday for the NFL’s best teams, which normally means a good weekend for bettors. The Patriots, Saints, Packers and Rams improved to 6-2 against the spread while the 49ers are now 5-2. Surely, though, the results will swing back to the books sometime soon.
“(Bettors) will do what they always do in the NFL,” Bogdanovich said. “They’ll bet the good teams, bet against the bad teams and they’ll bet what they saw last. It’s the same year after year.”
Home field has been far from an advantage for NFL teams against the spread in 2019. Entering Week 8, home teams were just 39-65-2 against the spread, according to covers.com.
In Week 8, prior to Monday night, home teams were 8-8 ATS, a much better mark than the rest of the season.
Home teams are still just 46-72-2 this season, an abysmal winning percentage of about 39%. Presumably, this will start to even out, and maybe the 7-7 mark by home teams in Week 7 (Thursday and Sunday) is the start of the turnaround.
Sharps Vs Squares
The sharps viewed four games differently than the public on Sunday, according to data from William Hill, and the sharps were right on three of the four matchups.
- In Lions vs. Giants, 57% of point-spread tickets were on Detroit -6.5, but 61% of the money was on New York. This was a bad beat for Lions backers as Detroit won, 31-26, and a Giants touchdown with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining changed the outcome for many bettors.
- The Bears and Chargers have been two of the most unpredictable teams of 2019, but the sharps read this one right. Although 58% of tickets had the Bears -3.5, the handle favored the Chargers with 56% of the money. Los Angeles pulled the upset with an outright win, 17-16, and the Chargers would have covered even if the Bears’ potential game-winning field goal went through as time expired.
- The Bills vs. Eagles game was among the most lopsided matchups of Week 8 as Philadelphia dominated in Buffalo, 31-13, to end an ugly two-game losing streak. The sharps preferred the Eagles as 59% of the money was on Philadelphia +1.5, compared to 60% of tickets on the Bills.
- *The public called the Saints vs. Cardinals game correctly. Bettors had 60% of tickets on New Orleans -12 while 63% of the money was on the Cardinals. The Saints and Brees easily covered the spread with a 31-9 win.
Ohio State, Auburn cover again
Two of the marquee games on the college football schedule featured covers by the two most-reliable teams of the 2019 season.
Ohio State covered as 14.5-point favorites against Wisconsin as the Buckeyes cruised in a 38-7 win. With the cover, Ohio State improved to 7-1 ATS this year. This Buckeyes cover was particularly painful for books as Draft Kings saw 91% of spread tickets and 95% of the handle on Ohio State.
Auburn lost to LSU on Saturday, 23-20, but that was close enough to cover the 10.5-point spread. Auburn also improved to 7-1 ATS this season, too, but bettors didn’t benefit from the Tigers nearly as much as the Buckeyes. Draft Kings actually took 73% of spread tickets and 66% of the handle on LSU — granted it’s tough to bet against LSU, who moved up to No. 1 in the AP poll after the narrow win.
- It’s tough to say a first touchdown scored bet is chalky, but Aaron Jones in the Packers-Chiefs game certainly fits the description. The Green Bay running back entered the game with nine rushing and receiving touchdowns this season, which was more than twice as many as any other player in the game. Sure enough, Jones scored first, helping a bettor at DraftKings turn $200 into $1400 with the +600 odds.
- A bettor at PointsBet cashed in a 12-leg moneyline parlay on NFL and college football. The $200 bet paid out $3,460 thanks to wins by the Vikings, Lions, Titans, Rams, Colts, Patriots, Packers, Texans, Iowa, USC, Ohio State and SMU.
- William Hill had one bettor make five $110,000 spread bets, and the lucky person went 4-1 on the big tickets. The bets: Falcons +7.5, Giants +6.5, Titans -2.5, Broncos +6 and Browns +10.5.
- DraftKings took a $315,000 moneyline parlay bet on the Colts and Jaguars at -116, which survived thanks to that Vinatieri field goal.
Aaron Jones was the odds-on favorite to score the first touchdown.— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) October 28, 2019
One bettor put $200 down and just cashed in 💰 pic.twitter.com/HBDybEDXOR
Might need to send Adam Vinatieri a thank you note. https://t.co/mUirCMOvvU— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) October 27, 2019