Notable bets: Tucker's kick saves one of the most popular weekend bets

Justin Tucker's late heroics certainly resulted in a lot more celebrating than had been expected just seconds earlier. AP

It was one of the most popular bets on the board at multiple sportsbooks. Yes, we're talking about the Baltimore Ravens' money-line odds to beat the Detroit Lions, straight-up.

The Ravens' moneyline (they were around -400 favorites) was included in more parlays than any other NFL offering at PointsBet. For every money-line bet on the underdog Lions at BetRivers sportsbooks, there were 22 on Baltimore. By the time the game kicked off, 98% of the dollars bet on the money-line was on the Ravens.

All of those bets were on the line when the longest field goal in NFL history hit the crossbar and caromed through as time expired.

Justin Tucker's 66-yard field goal capped an odds-defying last-minute drive by the Ravens in a 19-17 victory that resurrected the hopes of bettors who had laid the hefty money-line price on Baltimore and thought their bets were cooked.

"Justin Tucker is the bettor's best friend," Jay Croucher, head of trading for PointsBet, told ESPN. "Tucker's kick was the afternoon's defining moment for the results, saving everyone's money-line parlays."

Overall, with the Ravens not covering the 7.5-point spread, most sportsbooks made out alright on the game, but some bookmakers did take a hit. Baltimore's two-point win -- instead of losing outright to the Lions -- caused a "mid-six-figure swing" against the house at BetRivers, according to sportsbook COO Mattias Stetz.

Tom Gable, sportsbook director at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, said the Ravens were a popular selection on teasers, a form of parlay that allows bettors to adjust the spread, normally by six points.

"The Ravens were one of the most popular teaser selections of the week, and you could tell by the reaction in the book when that field goal was made," Gable said.

None of it seemed possible with the Ravens down 17-16 and facing a fourth-and-19 from their own 16-yard line with 30 seconds to play. At that point, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Baltimore had a 0.1% chance of winning. But Lamar Jackson connected with Sammy Watkins for a 36-yard completion and a first down, and the Ravens appeared to catch a break when they were allowed to get a play off with three seconds remaining after the play clock originally appeared to have expired.

Tucker then took the field and kicked the longest field goal in NFL history to win the game and keep the Ravens on top in the AFC North.

"Had Tucker missed, the Ravens would have drifted to +200 for the division," Croucher said. "Instead, they're now +110 and remain a slight favorite over Cleveland."

Notable NFL bets

  • The betting public got off to a hot start on Sunday by piling on the Cardinals, Bills and Browns in the early slate. Bettors were rewarded with stress-free winners.

  • The Cardinals, who rallied from behind to win and cover the 8-point spread in a 31-19 victory over the Jaguars, attracted the most lopsided action of any team in the early slate. Over 90% of the bets and the money wagered was on Arizona at multiple sportsbooks. "That was probably our worst game," DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello said.

  • "The only game of consequence that went against the public [in the early games] was the Chargers," said BetRivers sportsbook manager Zach Schlouch.

  • "I was actually happy with a very small loss after the morning games, because we lost all three of our biggest decisions. We went 0-3," MGM race and sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback told ESPN on Sunday afternoon.

  • The Dolphins' rally to cover the 3.5-point spread in a 31-28 overtime loss to the Raiders was a big win for bookmakers, especially those in Las Vegas. "Miami covering saved us quite a bit," said John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas.

  • The Raiders' opening win over the Ravens on Monday night in Las Vegas produced the biggest loss for MGM books in Nevada that Stoneback, a 20-plus-year veteran, can recall. Sunday's Raiders game against the visiting Dolphins was setting up to be a similar result. There were seven times more bets on the Raiders than Miami, and more than three times as much money.

    "We're going to run into that every week now, as long as [the Raiders] are winning and at home," Stoneback said. "Last year, it didn't seem like they were the home team yet. Nobody could go to the games, but now everyone's jumping in, and it doesn't hurt that they're starting out 3-0."

  • Deck Prism, a Las Vegas-based company that provides live updating odds during games to sportsbooks, shared what its predictive model thought of the underdog Chargers' late-game decisions in a 30-24 win over the Chiefs on Sunday. With the game tied 24-24 with 48 seconds left, the Chargers were facing a fourth-and-4 and elected to go for it -- instead of attempting a field goal with their struggling kicker in windy conditions.

    Deck Prism's model suggested that this was the wrong decision, given an average kicker in typical weather conditions. Under normal circumstances, the Chargers were 24% to win by going for it, whereas they would've been 26.5% to win if they attempted the field goal. Yet the wind was howling at Arrowhead Stadium. Being unable to trust their kicker cost the Chargers in that situation. And then, they were called for a false start before their attempt on fourth down.

    "After the false start, we made going for it 18.5% to win and kicking at 24.5%," Deck Prism co-founder Ed Miller told ESPN. "So that was a real rough spot not to have a kicker."

  • The Chargers picked up the first down, went on to score a touchdown and held off the Chiefs on the ensuing drive to preserve their 30-24 win. Also of note, the total on the Chargers-Chiefs game closed at 54.5. Chargers kicker Tristan Vizcaino missed the extra point after the go-ahead touchdown, his second missed extra point of the game, to keep the score a half point under the total. The Chiefs, who were 7-point favorites, are now 2-12 against the spread in their past 14 games dating back to last season.

College football notables

  • Bowling Green upset Minnesota 14-10 as a 30.5-point underdog. It's the largest upset since Illinois beat Wisconsin as a 30.5-point underdog in 2019.

  • Alabama opened as a 20-point favorite over Ole Miss at 2 p.m. PT Sunday at Las Vegas sportsbook Circa Sports. There were more than 10 limit bets placed on the Rebels in the first hours since the game was on the board, and no limit bets on Alabama. By 6 p.m. PT, the number had dropped to Crimson Tide -14.5.

Other notable opening college football lines via Circa Sports:

  • Indiana at Penn State (-9, 54.5)

  • Ohio State (-17, 59.5) at Rutgers

  • Cincinnati (-2, 47.5) at Notre Dame

  • Oregon (-8, 57.5) at Stanford

  • Ole Miss at Alabama (-20, 77.5)

  • Baylor at Oklahoma State (-5, 51.5)

  • Arkansas at Georgia (-18, 50.5)

  • Oklahoma (-12, 54.5) at Kansas State

  • Auburn at LSU (-4, 55.5)

  • Michigan at Wisconsin (-1, 43.5)

What were the odds?

  • 50,000-1: The actual odds, according to ESPN's Football Power Index, of a $25, 16-leg parlay featuring every Week 2 NFL game that a bettor nearly hit last week in Michigan. According to BetMGM, the bettor correctly picked the winners of the first 15 games and needed the Lions to upset the heavily favored Packers in order to win $726,959. The bet was placed using a free promotion and initially wasn't eligible for any type of early cash-out option. However, a spokesperson for BetMGM said its traders communicated with the bettor ahead of the Monday night game and ultimately allowed the bettor to cash out for $133,000 pre-tax.

  • -5,000: Team USA's odds to win the Ryder Cup heading into Sunday at the SuperBook. The Americans cruised to a 19-9 win. The Ryder Cup attracted approximately 25% of the amount wagered on a major tournament at the SuperBook.

  • +325: The Philadelphia 76ers' odds to win the Atlantic Division, prior to the news that Ben Simmons is refusing to return to the team. The SuperBook lengthened the 76ers' division odds to +400 and moved the point spread on Philadelphia's season opener from -1.5 to pick 'em.

  • +210: Oleksandr Usyk's odds to upset Anthony Joshua and win the WBA/WBO/IBF heavyweight titles on Saturday.