On Sunday afternoon, just after the second-half kickoffs of the three late NFL games, Ed Salmons of the Westgate SuperBook assessed the situation. It was ugly, bordering on gruesome.
"We need all three of the teams that are getting murdered," Salmons lamented. "I haven't seen the Bears make a first down in two hours."
A solid Sunday morning for the Las Vegas sportsbooks eroded quickly, when all three late decisions went against the house. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Chicago Bears 26-0 as 16-point home favorites. The Arizona Cardinals easily covered a 6.5-point spread in a 47-7 rout of the San Francisco 49ers, and the Buffalo Bills, a popular underdog pick, crushed the Miami Dolphins 41-14. Then the Denver Broncos delivered the dagger.
In the hours leading up to the prime-time kickoff, 10 times more money had been bet on the Broncos than on the host Detroit Lions at sportsbook operator CG Technology. A six-figure bet on Peyton Manning & Co. was the primary reason for the lopsided action, vice president Jason Simbal said. The Broncos beat the Lions 24-12, covering as 3-point favorites and completing a second losing Sunday in the first three weeks for several books.
Jay Rood, vice president of MGM race and sports, said his book was "a couple six figures" long on the Bills, who went from 3-point to 1-point underdogs before kickoff against the Dolphins. Sophisticated and public bettors backed the Bills, who, along with the St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts, attracted six-figure wagers at the MGM.
The Stratosphere sportsbook, one of the books that reported a losing Sunday, could have used some money on the Rams.
"For some reason, we just got buried on Pittsburgh," Stratosphere supervisor Hugh Citron said. "Everybody on Earth bet Pittsburgh today at our place. That was our most lopsided game. We were overloaded."
The Tennessee Titans produced the biggest win for the books Sunday, covering as 3.5-point home underdogs in a 35-33 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Underdogs went 6-3 against the spread (ATS) in the early games, which had most books ahead going into the late games. (The Atlanta Falcons-Dallas Cowboys went off at a consensus pick 'em.) But any early profits were erased by the late results.
"Overall, it was a good afternoon for the players," Chuck Esposito of Station Casinos' sportsbooks said.
College football report
Alabama's remarkable 72-game streak as the favorite appears to be over. The Wynn race and sportsbook opened the Crimson Tide as 1.5-point road underdogs against Georgia. The line had grown to Georgia -2.5 as of Monday morning.
Alabama was last an underdog versus Tim Tebow's Florida Gators in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide upset the Gators, went on to win the nation championship and have been the favorites in every game since. The 72-game streak is the longest such streak in the modern era. Alabama went 62-10 straight-up and 36-35-1 against the spread during the run.
If this line holds and Alabama kicks off as an underdog against Georgia, Marshall will have longest active streak of being favored -- 28 games -- according to ESPN Stats & Information's Evan Abrams.
Odds & Ends
-- The Oakland Raiders opened as 2-point favorites over the Chicago Bears, snapping a streak of 27 consecutive games as underdogs for the Raiders. It's the first time the Raiders have been favored since a Nov. 3, 2013, game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Oakland was last a favorite on the road on Sept. 16, 2012, at Miami.
-- The TCU-Texas Tech total got as high as 85.5 and "they pounded the over," the MGM's Rood said. TCU held off Texas Tech in a wild 55-52 that eclipsed the total with 11 minutes still left to play. Texas Tech plays Baylor this week, and some are estimating the total could reach 90 for the first time ever.
"I feel like if TCU played Baylor this week, you could make the total over 100," Salmons of the SuperBook said.
-- Alabama failed to cover as a 37-point favorite in a 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. The Crimson Tide are now 3-12 against the spread following a straight-up loss under coach Nick Saban.
-- Baylor crushed Rice 70-17 to improve to 16-4 ATS in its last 20 home games, dating back to 2012.
-- A bettor hit a $3,000, five-team parlay that paid $42,000, Sunday at CG Technology. The bettor took the Broncos, Patriots, Bills and Steelers with the point spread and Seahawks on the money line, per Simbal.
-- Florida trailed Tennessee 27-14 with five minutes to play Saturday. The Gators were as big as an 11-1 underdog to come from behind in live odds at William Hill. Florida rallied for two late touchdowns and won 28-27. No believed in the Gators enough to back them at 11-1, but a bettor did put down $700 on Tennessee to win $100, according to William Hill director of marketing Michael Grodsky.