SLIPS: Some NFL Week 17 Games Meaningful Only to Bettors
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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 NFL betting slips, including where the money went, the bad beats, amazing covers, stunning parlays and more.
Week 17 is such a challenge for NFL bettors because the games are more about motivation than the matchups.
Who wants to end the season strong? Who is already thinking about vacation? Who wants to save their coach’s job? Who wants to spoil a division opponent’s playoff seeding?
The last question proved to be the most notable of the day as the Miami Dolphins, a 16.5-point underdog, beat the New England Patriots, 27-24, in the biggest upset of the year. This was one of the games with a wild finish that either crushed bettors or left them elated.
Miami scored the winning touchdown with 24 seconds remaining. They were covering the high spread for the duration of the game, but the outright win surely ruined a lot of moneyline parlays.
Let that sink in: The Dolphins today tied for the biggest NFL upset in the last three decades.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) December 29, 2019
Some other wild finishes for betting purposes included the Buccaneers-Falcons, Ravens-Steelers, Packers-Lions, Raiders-Broncos and 49ers-Seahawks. Out of all those games, only two had legitimate playoff implications, but they all had plays late in the game that grabbed the attention of the betting public.
Really, Week 17 was just like any other week for bettors as there were some crazy upsets, big wins by favorites and some unbelievable finishes that determined how bettors closed out the season.
“We made a few bucks,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill. “It wasn’t the greatest day but it wasn’t a bad day. It was somewhere in the middle.”
The biggest wins for the book Sunday were the Dolphins, obviously, and the Jaguars (+6.5), who throttled the Colts, 38-20. William Hill took 91% of spread tickets and 93% of the handle on the Colts.
The only game Sunday with playoff implications for both teams was 49ers-Seahawks, and it was the most popular game of the week for bettors with 15% of the spread tickets and 18% of the total handle at William Hill. Bettors ultimately nailed the game as the 49ers (-3) covered, and 64% of tickets and 79% of the handle were on San Francisco.
However, the 49ers needed a stop on the final drive to seal a 5-point win, and the Seahawks were inches away from a winning score.
The Buccaneers-Falcons game had a total of 47.5, and William Hill took 80% of tickets and 55% of the handle on the over, which seemed like an easy hit with 38 points in the first half. The teams combined for just six points in the second half, but in overtime, Jameis Winston’s pick-six gave the Falcons the win and the cover, plus it rewarded those who bet over.
The Ravens-Steelers game also hit over in a weird way, but it was costly for bettors as William Hill took 78% of tickets and 94% of money on the under, which opened as high as 41, went as low as 35, but ultimately closed at 37. For some, a special teams touchdown by the Ravens sent it over, and for others, a safety did it. Either way, it was a bad beat.
The Packers (-12.5) were the play for 72% of spread tickets and the handle at William Hill, were never in line to cover and trailed 17-3 at halftime, but they outscored the Lions 20-3 in the second half and hit a winning field goal as time expired to win to keep moneyline parlays alive.
The Raiders (+3.5) had an incredible cover with 12 fourth-quarter points, including a touchdown with 7 seconds remaining, but they went for a 2-point conversion to try to win and failed, meaning a win for Broncos moneyline bettors.
After watching Miami early in the season, including a 43-0 loss to the Patriots in Week 2, it would have been impossible to predict the Dolphins beating New England in Week 17.
If anything, most people would have thought the Patriots could beat Miami with backups, but the Dolphins won two straight to close the season, including Sunday’s stunner that dropped the Patriots to the No. 3 seed in the AFC. New England won’t have a first-round bye for the first time since 2009.
LSU, Clemson Come Through
The semifinals of the College Football Playoff brought in a ton of action, and people who bet on the games experienced different levels of stress.
Anyone who bet on LSU to cover the 13-point spread, or for the Tigers and Oklahoma to go over 75.5, had one of the most stress-free betting experiences ever as LSU was on fire from the start and took a 49-14 lead at halftime. At one point, William Hill moved the live line to LSU -42 and the total to 97, though the 63-28 finish wasn’t quite that wild.
The betting public actually wasn’t too confident in the top-seeded Tigers as just 56% of the spread tickets and 53% of the handle were on LSU.
Meanwhile, anyone betting on the Clemson-Ohio State game was sweating the whole time. Clemson (-2.5) was the preferred side at William Hill (56% of tickets and 66% of handle), but it was never safe until the end.
The Buckeyes led 16-0 in the second quarter and Clemson didn’t lead until midway through the third quarter. The Tigers took a 29-23 lead with another touchdown with 1 minute, 49 seconds remaining, but Ohio State drove to the Clemson 23 before a Tigers interception sealed the win and cover.
Under 63 was a winning play, too, but 67% of tickets and 62% of the handle were on the over. DraftKings had an opening line of LSU -3 shortly after the Clemson game ended, but bettors quickly pounced and the book moved it to LSU -5.5 within minutes.
“People always react to what they saw last, and they saw Clemson in a fight for their lives and LSU could have scored 200 points,” Bogdanovich said.
Bogdanovich projects the college football consensus to stay on LSU while the sharps lean toward Clemson and the inflated points.
Saturday’s slate actually featured all four college football betting favorites — LSU, Clemson, Notre Dame and Penn State — winning and covering, but Bogdanovich said William Hill somehow had a winning day.
- A bettor at Draft Kings turned $25 into more than $19,000 with a 12-leg parlay on Sunday.
- William Hill took a $110,000 bet on the Titans -6.5, which paid out $100,000 to the bettor. William Hill also had a couple bets of Seahawks +3.5 for $110,000, but those did not hit.
12-leg parlay at +77023 to win over $19K? No problem— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) December 30, 2019
💰 49ers -3
💰 Cowboys ML
💰 Chiefs ML
💰 Cardinals +7.5
💰 Raiders +3.5
💰 Dolphins +16.5
💰 Saints -13.5
💰 Vikings +3.5
💰 Ravens pk
💰 Falcons/Bucs Over 47.5
💰 Browns/Bengals Over 43
💰 Eagles/Giants Over 44#MakeItReign pic.twitter.com/HK9EuBMGUI