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SLIPS: Packers Dud Is A Big Win For Sportsbooks In Week 9

Josh Katzenstein for Bookies.com

Josh Katzenstein  | 7 mins

SLIPS: Packers Dud Is A Big Win For Sportsbooks In Week 9

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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.

It seemed like an easy bet.

The Green Bay Packers were on a roll, winning four straight games and going 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in the first half of the 2019 season. The Los Angeles Chargers had been a disappointment at just 3-5 SU and 2-4-2 ATS.

The Packers were 4-point favorites, and the and fans of NFL betting loved them. At William Hill, 93% of spread tickets and 91% of the handle were on Green Bay, and it was the most popular game of the day, accounting for 18% of the total tickets bet on point spreads. Fan Duel had the line at Green Bay -3.5, and 94% of tickets were won the Packers to cover. The Packers -3.5 accounted for 93% of the tickets at Sugar House.

SLIPS: Packers Dud Is A Big Win For Sportsbooks In Week 9 1
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked three times and threw for just 161 yards on Sunday against the Chargers.

However, as so often happens, the sportsbooks claimed a massive victory as the Chargers throttled the Packers, 26-11, for the outright win and cover.

“I’d say it was about as good as a game could be,” said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill. “It was a monster win across the board. There was so much one-way action on that game.”

Green Bay never threatened to cover as road favorites. Los Angeles led 9-0 at halftime behind three field goals and extended the lead to 19-0 in the third quarter and eventually 26-3 in the fourth quarter. The Packers gained a measly 184 yards as the Chargers defense made good on the potential many people saw entering the season.

The Chargers were just 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS at home this season, and Dignity Health Sports Park has hardly provided a home-field advantage since they moved there in 2019.

Bogdanovich said sportsbooks are aware of the lack of home-field advantage and shift the spread if a marquee team like the Steelers or Packers visits Los Angeles.

However, perhaps the play is to back when nobody believes in them as they’ve now won seven of their last nine games as underdogs.

RELATED: NFL Week 9 Betting Takeaways: Most-Backed Teams Go Down

Bogdanovich said this game will likely have little impact on the Packers, but it could swing how the books and bettors view the Chargers.

“They’ve had a lot of brutal losses, so I’d say that’s a good win,” he said. I would definitely increase their power rating.”

No place like home

Home teams — excluding the London game — went 11-0 ATS on Sunday, a truly unbelievable result.

“You won’t find that. That’s a trillion-to-one shot,” Bogdanovich said.

Home teams had really struggled in 2019, going just 44-72-2 ATS in the first eight weeks of the season, according to the numbers at teamrankings.com. The Cardinals covered on Thursday night, too, so the home teams were 12-0 ATS in Week 9 heading into the Monday night game.

The big week improved the home team record to 55-72-2 and improved the winning percentage from an abysmal 37% to a slightly more tolerable 43%.

Even with all the home teams covering, the books still made out well. In addition to the Chargers upset, the Ravens +3 upsetting the Patriots helped the books.

“Any time you can knock down the Patriots and the Packers in the same day that’s a pretty good feat,” Bogdanovich said.

The worst games for the books, according to Bogdanovich, were covers by the Seahawks -4.5, Bills -10.5 and Eagles -4.5, but those games didn’t have as much action as others.

Sharps Vs. Squares

Only one game Sunday featured the total percentage of point spread tickets backing a different team than the percentage of total dollars bet at William Hill.

The public favored the Seahawks on Sunday with 75% of tickets on Seattle -4.5 while 55% of the handle was actually on the Buccaneers.The squares got this one right, but they were incredibly fortunate.

Seattle missed a game-winning field goal as time expired in regulation, which would have given the Seahawks a 3-point win and allowed the Bucs to cover. Instead, the game went into overtime and Seattle scored a touchdown on the opening drive, resulting in a 40-34 win and a Seahawks cover.

While there weren’t any other games in which the sharps swung the handle enough toward a different team, the William Hill data shows where the pros differed from the public a bit.

SLIPS: Packers Dud Is A Big Win For Sportsbooks In Week 9 2
Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister dives in for the game-winning touchdown while being tackled by Buccaneers free safety Jordan Whitehead during overtime Sunday.
  • In the Texans-Jaguars game, 70% of tickets were on Houston -1 while just 52% of the money was on the Texans. Clearly, the sharps saw something they liked in the Jaguars, but the Texans dominated in London, 26-3.
  • There was a similar disparity in the Buffalo-Washington game with 60% of tickets on the Bills -10.5 compared to 78% of the handle on Buffalo. Buffalo covered with a 24-9 win as the sharps nailed it.
  • The sharps proved to be wiser in the Sunday night game, too. While 81% of tickets backed the Patriots -3, New England accounted for just 64% of the handle as sharps favored the Ravens, who won outright, 37-20.
  • There was also a significant difference in the Colts-Steelers game as 76% of tickets were on Indianapolis +1 but just 61% of the money. Pittsburgh won outright, 26-24, but only after the Colts missed a 43-yard field goal with 1:11 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Fickle game

I watched games with my neighbor on Sunday, and before the late afternoon games kicked off, he received an alert from a sharp that Lions +3 was the best bet of the day.

My neighbor didn’t take the advice, and he expressed regret when the Lions took a 14-10 lead against the Raiders in the second quarter. However, he was right to stay away as a Lions bet would have been a brutal beat.

The Raiders took a 31-24 lead with 2:04 remaining in regulation, but the Lions offense had looked unstoppable for much of the day. Detroit made it to the Oakland 1 and faced a do-or-die fourth-and goal.

For some reason, the Raiders called a time out to give the Lions a chance to think about the fourth down, and Detroit overthought it, calling a play without top receivers Marvin Jones or Kenny Golladay on the field. The play-action pass went to third-string tight end Logan Thomas, who failed to haul it in, and the Raiders won and covered.

A better play call likely gives the Lions a touchdown and forces overtime, but as we saw in the Seahawks-Bucs game, even overtime wouldn’t have guaranteed a cover. Even the best bets can be foiled by one bad call.

Notable bets

  • A bettor won about $1.1 million at William Hill on Sunday, according to Bogdanovich. The main bets were $300,000 on the Steelers -1, $350,000 on the Chargers +4 and $400,000 on the Ravens +3. The bettor also had some smaller bets that made the total about $1.1 million in winnings.
  • DraftKings had a bettor hit an 11-leg parlay at 1162-to-1 odds, turning $17.70 into $20,584.46. The bettor picked all 11 home teams to cover, which they did.
  • A bettor on FanDuel hit a wild nine-leg parlay, turning $2 into $1,132.29. He hit on the Steelers -1.5, Steelers-Colts over 43.5, Chiefs +2.5, Vikings-Chiefs over 48.5, Dolphins +3.5, Jets-Dolphins over 42.5, Panthers -3.5, Panthers-Titans over 40.5 and Texans -4.5.

About the Author

Josh Katzenstein for Bookies.com
Josh Katzenstein
Josh Katzenstein is a former NFL beat writer. He spent the past three years covering the New Orleans Saints for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. His work can also be found at Bleacher Report.