SLIPS: NFL Week 11 Again Shows Why Smart Bettors Fade Bears
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.
One of the most difficult things about betting on the NFL is that people are often too late to see a trend developing.
Because most of the teams are so evenly matched, the parity in a season with just 16 games could make bettors second guess when looking at tendencies, instead of simply trusting what they see over the course of the season.
That’s why it’s mind-blowing that people are still betting on the Chicago Bears when betting against them has been one of the most profitable — and obvious — moves of the season.
The Bears fell to 4-6 straight up and 3-7 against the spread after a 17-7 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.
Clearly, this isn’t the same Chicago team that went 12-4 last season to win the NFC North. The defense isn’t the top-tier group it was in 2018, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been abysmal.
“I don’t think the masses have been all against the Bears even though they’ve played so poorly,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill.
The under is also 7-3 in Bears games this year, including another hit Sunday, so bettors have had the opportunity to take advantage of Chicago’s woeful offense, which now ranks 30th in yards per game and 27th in points per game.
Trubisky showed significant growth in 2018, his second NFL season, but he has regressed in nearly every way this season. His completion percentage has dropped from 66.6% to 62.4%, his yards per attempt is down from 7.4 to 5.6, his passer rating has fallen from 95.4 to 82.2 and he has created just one play of 40-plus yards compared to 10 last year.
Really, whenever someone bets on the Bears, they must be ignoring all of the data that shows Trubisky cannot be trusted. Shockingly, someone at CG Sportsboks placed a $110,000 bet on the Bears +6 on Sunday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The Week 10 game might have thrown some people off the Bears’ scent as Chicago beat the Detroit Lions 20-13, which was enough to cover. Trubisky had his best game of the year with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, the Lions have the 30th-ranked pass defense, and that was the first game with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel starting for Detroit, so it should have been a throwaway game for bettors as opposed to a sign Chicago and Trubisky were trending up.
“The astute (bettors) see it coming, whether it’s from year to year (or) they see it coming from an extended period of time,” Bogdanovich said. “The masses, they just go on what they saw last, so that’s a week-by-week basis.”
Sunday’s game pitted the Bears against another team that hasn’t lived up to expectations this season, but the Rams actually entered 6-3 against the spread. Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff has been nearly as bad as Trubisky this year, but it should have been easy to see this as a bounce-back opportunity for the Rams, especially because the Aaron Donald-led defense was clearly going to find a way to pressure Trubisky.
Still, 46% of the spread bets and the handle were on Chicago +6 at DraftKings on Sunday. The Rams won 17-7 and covered. Trubisky was awful — 24 of 43 for 190 yards with one touchdown and one interception — and the Bears pulled him in the fourth quarter, saying he had a hip injury.
Moving forward, it’s possible backup quarterback Chase Daniel could make the Bears offense more effective, but there’s still no reason to trust this team unless they play a really bad team. Three of their four wins came against teams that currently have three wins or fewer — Detroit, Denver and Washington — and the fourth was against the Vikings when Daniel replaced Trubisky early in the game.
Chicago’s defense has been decent statistically, but it’s still not the same as 2018, especially without interior lineman Akiem Hicks. Chicago is allowing 23 more yards per game and nearly 16 more rushing yards per game. They’ve been nearly as effective sacking quarterbacks, but they aren’t creating turnovers at the same rate, with 14 through 10 games compared to an NFL-best 36 in 2018.
Now, as I write about how bad the Bears are, it’s important to look ahead and see they are 6.5-point favorites next Sunday at home against the Giants. They will probably be favored at Detroit on Thanksgiving, too.
Betting against the Bears might not be profitable in these games, but their final four contests could be a goldmine for bettors when they face the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. Perhaps Chicago’s defense will keep those games close, but I would still be scared about whether the Bears offense can score enough to cover any spread against those teams.
Big day for bettors
I feel bad leading with some negativity after a day in which bettors made a killing, an important bounce-back after a couple of brutal weeks.
Favorites went 7-4-1 on Sunday, and most of the top teams paid off for the public. Plus, one of the underdogs that covered and won was the Jets, who were a popular pick for bettors with DraftKings reporting 84% of spread bets and 92% of the handle on New York +2.5 in a matchup at Washington. “Bettors got us yesterday,” Bogdanovich said.
DraftKings took 88% of spread bets and 95% of the handle on the Cowboys -6, and Dallas covered with a 35-27 win over the Lions. The Patriots were a popular bet as usual with 79% of spread bets and 83% of the handle as New England covered a 4.5-point spread in a road win over the Eagles. The Saints (-5) bounced back after last week’s loss to Atlanta, and it paid off with 80% of spread tickets and 70% of the handle on New Orleans for Sunday’s big win over Tampa Bay.
The costliest bets of the day for bettors were the non-covers by the Vikings -10 and the Raiders -11.5, but both teams won to keep moneyline parlays and some teasers alive.
Bogdanovich called the 49ers game “miraculous” as they scored a defensive touchdown as time expired to make the 10-point spread a push against the Cardinals. Books are lucky the NFL changed the rule that required teams to attempt a point after try as one more point would have been an even bigger loss for books.
BACKDOOR COVER FOR 49ERS SPREAD BETTORS pic.twitter.com/GaAJRiEV7h— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) November 18, 2019
Vikings mount comeback
The Broncos led 20-0 against the Vikings on Sunday, but Minnesota stormed back to win 27-23. This was the first time since 2015 a team won after trailing by 20-plus points at halftime as teams were previously 0-99 in the past five seasons.
The @Vikings are the first team since 2015, including the postseason, to come back and win when trailing by 20+ points at halftime.— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 17, 2019
Entering the Vikings game, such teams were previously 0-99 in the last 5 seasons.#DENvsMIN | #Skol
One bettor took advantage of Minnesota’s early deficit. The in-game betting shifted to Vikings +510, and the bettor placed a $500 wager that paid out $3,050.
Bettors would have been wise to take advantage of the live betting in the Patriots game, too, as DraftKings shifted the line to New England +3 when the Eagles took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. The Patriots won 17-10.
Sharps vs. Squares
The Ravens vs. Texans was the only game in which DraftKings’ betting data showed the public clearly backing a different game than the pros.
The book took 66% of spread bets on Baltimore -4.5, but 52% of the handle was on Houston. The squares nailed this one as the Ravens won 41-7, proving again that Baltimore is one of the elite teams.
- A bettor at DraftKings hit a 12-leg parlay to turn a $24 free bet into $17,819.91. The bet included Saints moneyline, Saints-Bucs over, Raiders moneyline, Bengals-Raiders over, Bills moneyline, Bills-Dolphins over, Jets +1.5, Jets-Washington over, Cardinals +11.5, Cardinals-49ers over, Falcons +5.5 and Falcons-Panthers under.
- Another bettor at FanDuel hit an eight-team parlay to turn $200 into $33,049 using the live spreads from the second half of the 1 p.m. games. The spreads were Bills -12.5, Lions +13.5, Vikings +10.5, Ravens -18.5, Jets -14.5, Saints -10.5, Falcons -15.5 and Colts -3.5.
- One bettor at William Hill made three large bets hoping to cash in for $1.2 million, but only one of the bets hit. There were two failed bets of $440,000 to win $400,000 on Eagles +4.5 and Tampa Bay +5, and the winner was a $640,000 moneyline bet on the Colts to win $400,000.
One customer live bet $200 on a CRAZY 8-team parlay yesterday, using live spreads from the second half of each 1PM NFL game, and WON $33,049 🤯— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) November 18, 2019
✅ Bills -12.5
✅ Lions +13.5
✅ Vikings +10.5
✅ Ravens -18.5
✅ Jets -14.5
✅ Saints -10.5
✅ Falcons -15.5
✅ Colts -3.5 pic.twitter.com/k1ZkFSzLfR