Betting against the Philadelphia Eagles was a popular strategy in an offseason that saw their odds to win the Super Bowl plummet to 100-1. In September, only the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers had worse Super Bowl odds than the Eagles.
Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology initially listed the Eagles' season win total at 7.5, but took so much money on the under that the book was forced to cut the number down to 6.5 with inflated juice on the under. Nearly 90 percent of the money bet on the Eagles' season win total was on the under at William Hill's Nevada sportsbook. And in CG Technology's odds to make the playoffs, the Eagles opened at "Yes" +150 and "No" -170. The "No" closed at -280.
"That just goes to show how everybody ... fans, smart guys, faded this team before the season," Jason Simbal, vice president of race and sports for CG Technology, said. "People were talking about them being the worst team in the league."
That talk, at least for now, has ceased. The Eagles improved to 3-0 with an impressive 34-3 drubbing of the respected Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Seventy-four percent of the money bet on the Steelers-Eagles game at William Hill was on favored Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia is now 20-1 to win the Super Bowl at the Westgate SuperBook. The Eagles are 10-1 to win the NFC Championship, a dramatic improvement for a team with a rookie quarterback and few big names on either side of the ball.
Philadelphia started the season at the very bottom of longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich's power ratings, ahead of only the Tennessee Titans, Browns and 49ers. Now only a handful of teams are ranked ahead of the Eagles.
"They're definitely the shock of the year so far," Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill, said. "I didn't expect anything from them. You're talking about new coach, new quarterback, new systems, new schemes. They look like world-beaters, for sure."
Station Casinos' sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said he'd have only five teams -- New England, Denver, Minnesota, Seattle and Green Bay -- ahead of Philadelphia in his power ratings.
"It's still early and two of the three wins have been over the Browns and the Bears," Esposito said. "But I'm really impressed with [quarterback Carson] Wentz through three weeks."
Wild college football Saturday
Hugh Citron, sportsbook manager at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, was in the back office Saturday night when he heard a yelp. He looked at the TV and saw a Stanford player celebrating in the end zone. Citron could only shake his head.
Stanford was around a 2.5- to 3.5-point favorite over UCLA. The Cardinal trailed 13-9 late in the fourth quarter before quarterback Ryan Burns connected with JJ Arcega-Whiteside on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds to play.
On the Bruins' ensuing possession, UCLA moved near midfield with four seconds left. On the final play of the game, Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen dropped back to attempt a Hail Mary but was sacked and fumbled. Stanford's Solomon Thomas picked up the fumble and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown to cover the spread.
"That last play really turned the whole day," Citron said, calling Saturday "a wash."
Stanford's win also was the worst result of the day for CG Technology, with the final two minutes causing a $200,000 swing against the house, including $60,000 on the last-play defensive touchdown. But it was only the first of two costly nighttime endings for the books.
Arizona State, a 3.5-point favorite over California, covered the spread by returning an onside kick attempt for a touchdown with 48 seconds to play in the Sun Devils' 51-41 win over the Bears.
"Those hurt," said Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at MGM.
Tennessee's comeback win over Florida and Duke's outright upset of Notre Dame helped the books survive the nighttime dramatics. Leading 21-0 in the first half, Florida was listed as a -1,100 favorite in in-game wagering at William Hill. One bettor put $340 on the Gators at that point, a bet that would have netted $30.90. But the Volunteers rallied from behind in the second half for a 38-28 win. Duke, a 21-point underdog, stunned Notre Dame 38-35 on a field goal with 1:24 to play. The Fighting Irish were listed at -1,300 on the money line at William Hill, where a bettor risked $13,000 on Notre Dame to win straight up. The bet would have netted $1,000. William Hill took nine money-line bets on the Blue Devils to pull the upset, none greater than $20. CG Technology did not take a single money line bet on the Blue Devils.
"We had a kid put a nickel [netting $500] on Duke on the money line at plus-850," Ed Salmons, assistant manager at the Westgate at SuperBook.
Odds and ends
New England rookie QB Jacoby Brissett's 27-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Patriots' win over the Houston Texans on Thursday produced a five-figure loss for the MGM sportsbook. Brissett was listed at 30-1 to score the game's first touchdown. "Let's just say we were not rooting for that," Rood said.
Ahead of Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton was listed a -200 favorite over Donald Trump to win the U.S. presidential election at United Kingdom betting exchange BetFair. Betting on the election is prohibited in the United States but is a popular market in the U.K.
The past 12 Michigan games have gone over the total.
Odds to win the Ryder Cup: Europe +190 / U.S. -175 / Tie +1,100. As of Sunday at the Westgate SuperBook, 63 percent of bets and 61 percent of the money is on the U.S.
A bettor at CG Technology placed a $1,500, eight-team parlay on Friday. The ticket included four Friday baseball games (Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers) one college football game on Saturday (Iowa State -7) and three NFL money lines on Sunday (Green Bay, Denver and the New York Giants). The first seven legs all hit, leaving it all up to Eli Manning and the Giants on Sunday. Manning threw an interception on the Giants' final possession of a 29-27 loss to the Washington Redskins. The parlay would have paid $150,000.