Player props have become increasingly popular at U.S. sportsbooks overall, but one type of prop bet stands out from the rest -- the odds to score a touchdown.
On Thursday, at online sportsbook PointsBet, there were more bets on Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce to score a touchdown than there were on the point spread of the Chargers-Chiefs game, both teams combined. There were also more bets on Kelce to score a touchdown than there were on the over/under total.
It's a wild stat but also an outlier. Other sportsbooks saw plenty of interest in Kelce, but nowhere near to the same degree as the point spread. There were roughly five times as many bets on the point spread compared to the touchdown scorer for all players at Caesars Sportsbook, for example.
Still, the interest in the Chiefs' tight end was felt across the betting market. Sports media personality Pat McAfee included Kelce on a parlay bet he suggested to his audience, and FanDuel reported that more than 25,000 customers bet the parlay. At DraftKings, Kelce topped all players in bets to score a touchdown.
At sportsbook operator WynnBET, the odds to score the first touchdown of the game have emerged as the most popular prop bet offered, according to trader Andy Morrissey.
"They've been hugely popular in Europe," Craig Mucklow, vice president of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said of touchdown-scorer markets.
In Nevada, however, they've been used primarily on the Super Bowls until recently.
"Now, we have them for every game," Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars, said, adding that both professional and public betters get involved in the touchdown-scorer markets.
Kelce did not score a touchdown in the Chiefs' 27-25 win over the Chargers on Thursday.
"With the amount of action, not to mention the amount of single-game parlays that included Kelce anytime TD, him not getting in the end zone was a tremendous result for the book," Wyatt Yearout, spokesperson for PointsBet, told ESPN.
The tremendous results carried over to Sunday for most sportsbooks.
• The action on Sunday's NFL games was relatively balanced. At Caesars, the money wagered on the point spread of seven of the 12 afternoon games was in the 50/50 range.
PointsBet said six games attracted what the book considers to be two-way action on the spread, with only one game garnering lopsided action. Yearout looked back at the weekly breakdowns from last NFL season and found that this Sunday's slate attracted more balanced action than any week from last season.
"The ticket counts on the straight bets were very split on a lot of games," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said, "but that's not usually where the big decisions are for us. Getting the favorites to lose outright is always the biggest key."
Six underdogs pulled out right upsets Sunday, fueling what was a big winning day for many sportsbooks.
"Not many losing games to report on, although I will say the Jaguars were very popular with both sharp guys and some house players," Murray said. "We did surprisingly poorly on that game."
• The Borgata suffered a losing Sunday, according to sportsbook director Thomas Gable. The Atlantic City sportsbook's fate was decided by the middle of the afternoon, thanks to heavy action on the Jets and Giants and "some bigger tickets on the Jags."
"Not enough big decisions to make back what we lost," Gable wrote in a text message to ESPN on Sunday afternoon. "It was the first 'J-E-T-S' chant I've heard in the book in a long time."
• BetMGM's Nevada sportsbook enjoyed a "really good" Sunday, according to director Lamarr Mitchell, who said a lot of "six-figure wagers went the way of the house."
• "It was a big day for us today," Morrissey of WynnBET said. "We saw an increase in handle compared to last week, and we avoided any big parlay losses."
• A bettor with Caesars placed a .01 -- yes, a penny --money-line bet on the Chiefs to beat the Chargers at -205 odds on Thursday. Mucklow said penny bets are "amusingly popular" and added that, for the payout on the winning penny money-line wager on the Chiefs, the book "rounded up."
• The 49ers' odds to win the Super Bowl improved from 20-1 to 18-1 at PointsBet on Sunday. San Francisco quarterback Trey Lance was carted off the field early in a win over the Seahawks.
New NFL RG commercial
The NFL debuted its new responsible betting commercial during Sunday night's Bears-Packers game. It is centered on a hypothetical "miracle" finish to a game and reminds bettors to bet responsibly because "unbelievable happens."
"As we head into the second season of our comprehensive responsible betting program, we feel very positive about the impact we made in year one and understand that this is an initiative that requires ongoing attention and resources," David Highhill, vice president and general manager of sports betting for the NFL, said. "The goal with our new leaguewide responsible betting creative is to continue to use the NFL's platform to educate and encourage fans who choose to bet to do so in a safe and responsible way."
The NFL, which limits sports betting ads to six per game, is wary of over-saturating gambling into its broadcasts. League research has shown that a significant segment of its fan base are turned off or not interested in betting.
Google also is attempting to help users uninterested in sports betting limit ads. Gambling is one of five categories -- along with alcohol, dating, pregnancy and weight loss -- for which Google allows users to limit advertising. Typing "ads setting" into a Chrome browser takes users to a page where they can opt to limit the amount of gambling ads they see.
College football notables
• Notable Week 4 opening lines [via Circa Sports]:
Clemson -7, 55.5 at Wake Forest
Duke at Kansas -8, 50.5
Florida at Tennessee -10, 65.5
Wisconsin at Ohio State -16, 51.5
Kansas State at Oklahoma -13, 55.5
USC -5, 70.5 at Oregon State
Arkansas at Texas A&M -2, 49.5
• Kansas and Vanderbilt became the first teams to go over their season win totals on Saturday. The Jayhawks and Commodores each had win totals of 2 or 2.5 at most sportsbooks.
• A bettor placed an $80,000 money-line bet on Ohio State to beat Toledo straight up at -4,000 odds with the Hard Rock sportsbook in Indiana. The Buckeyes won 77-21, and the bettor won a net $2,000.