Slips: Stunning Titans Win Pays Handsomely For Sportsbooks
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.
The Tennessee Titans on Saturday became the first No. 6 seed to upset a No. 1 seed in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs since the 2010 postseason, and the win was massive for sportsbooks as NFL betting enthusiasts loved the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens in the AFC playoffs.
“I think it was the biggest game in the history of William Hill US,” said Nick Bogdanovich, the book’s director of trading.
William Hill has operated in the United States since 2012, and with legal sports betting on the rise, the wide-reaching book has continually seen increasing handles.
Bogdanovich said the Minnesota Vikings’ upset of the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round last Sunday was the biggest in the book’s existence, but that record lasted just six days.
“We had a pretty good seven-day run,” he said. “The gambling gods blessed us this week.”
Bogdanovich said he couldn’t discuss specific numbers for the books, but it’s easy to see why the Titans were such an important decision for the house.
The Ravens went 14-2 in the regular season, and they covered in nine of their final 10 games during the regular season. Lamar Jackson, the presumed 2019 NFL MVP, had been unstoppable and Baltimore ranked first in points scored and second in points allowed.
Because of the dominant regular season, the Ravens were 9.5-point favorites against the Titans on Saturday, and that line did draw some action on Tennessee. Still, William Hill took 61% of spread tickets and a whopping 77% of the handle on the Ravens. At DraftKings, 51% of spread tickets and 62% of the handle were on the Ravens. The Ravens were also the most popular favorite at SugarHouse with 66% of the spread handle.
More important, the Titans’ outright win ruined countless parlays and teasers.
“Every single teaser and every single moneyline parlay was on the Baltimore Ravens. ‘They cannot lose,’ the customers said,” Bogdanovich said.
Three of the four favorites won over the weekend, which would normally be a bad sign for the books, Bogdanovich said. Instead, the Ravens loss ruined a ton of tickets. Even with the big win, Bogdanovich said there was no sort of cheering from the staff at William Hill.
“We’ve seen it a thousand times,” he said. “Obviously, we’re rooting for our side. We’ve got a side in almost every game, so those are my favorite teams these days.”
Bogdanovich said William Hill had a lot of five-figure parlays and teasers, but not many in the six-figure range. Still, by looking at the handles for individual games, he said the book has been seeing an incredible amount of action to start 2020.
“Every week I’m amazed at just the amount of business there is,” he said. "People just keep betting sports with both hands. They’re in love with it.”
Based solely on the boxscore, the other AFC matchup looked like an easy win for bettors with the Kansas City Chiefs, a 9.5-point favorite, covering against the Houston Texans. In real time, though, this was one of the wildest playoff games of all time.
The underdog Texans jumped to a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter. When it was 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, DraftKings’ live odds shifted to +265 for the Chiefs.
But the Chiefs rallied to lead 28-24 at halftime and eventually scored 41 straight points in a 51-31 victory.
It was the first game of this postseason to go over the point total, and the two teams went over 51 in the first half, marking an easy win for bettors with 66% of the handle on the over.
Many props hit by the break, too, as the two teams combined for an offensive explosion.
Props that already hit at the half:— William Hill US (@WilliamHillUS) January 12, 2020
Longest TD - OVER 43.5
Watson TD Passes - OVER 1.5
Mahomes TD Passes - OVER 2
Kelce Receptions - OVER 6
Total Points by Houston - OVER 20.5
National Championship Picture
There has been plenty of college football betting line movement in tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championship between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Clemson. At some books, the line opened at LSU -4.5 before ballooning to LSU -6. After a while at LSU -5.5, the line was down to LSU -5 by Monday morning.
Bogdanovich said William Hill has enough action on both sides, but he would prefer Clemson.
“Right now we need Clemson, but the line keeps dropping and more Clemson money (is) coming in,” he said. “It looked like, at one point, it was going to be a big decision, but it looks like it’s shortening up as we speak.”
- William Hill had a $150,000 moneyline bet on the Vikings +260, but that lost as the 49ers won easily on Saturday.
- One bettor at DraftKings put $100 on Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills to score the first touchdown. With 20-to-1 odds, the bet paid $2,100.
- A similar bet hit at DraftKings on Saturday with a bettor having $100 at 20-to-1 odds on Kendrick Bourne scoring first in the 49ers-Vikings game.
- William Hill also had one customer with a $90,000 moneyline parlay with NBA and NFL action, but the Knicks upset the Heat to ruin it.