It's hard to beat the dry wit of a bookmaker on the rare losing NFL Sunday. The Las Vegas guys who have been doing this for decades have it down to an art form.
Veteran bookmakers know any public remark about suffering a loss will bring out the calls for the world's smallest violins. They know that there is more sympathy for the devil than the bookmaker. But they also know that getting a little marketing out of a rare losing NFL Sunday only helps their bottom line.
That bookmaker's humor was on display after an uneven Sunday for sportsbooks that began with a potentially historic run of overs and ended with the most profitable game of the first two weeks for the betting public.
Caesars Sportsbook and the Westgate SuperBook were among the bookmakers who reported winding up with big decisions on the Sunday night game between the Miami Dolphins and the home underdog New England Patriots.
"We need New England," Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said Sunday night as the prime-time game kicked off.
John Murray of the SuperBook said it felt like every remaining live parlay had the Dolphins and if they covered, it would turn Sunday from a winner to loser for the house. After Miami jumped out to a 17-3 lead, Murray sarcastically posted on social media there could be a "possible tough scene" at the SuperBook.
The Dolphins held off a late push by the Patriots and covered the 2-point spread in a 24-17 victory. It resulted in the worst loss of the first two weeks of the season for Caesars and the SuperBook.
The game did stay under the total of 45, only the second game on Sunday that did so. Entering Monday night's doubleheader, 12 games have already gone over the total this week, including 11 of 13 on Sunday. Chiefs-Jaguars and Patriots-Dolphins were the only two games that did not eclipse the closing betting totals. If either of Monday's games go over the total, it will be the first week since at least 1986 that 13 games have gone over, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Despite the big loss of the Dolphins and the rash of overs, sportsbooks are expected to fight on and be open for the "Monday Night Football" doubleheader.
The largest reported NFL bet of the weekend was $360,000 on the Cincinnati Bengals -3 (-120) vs. the Baltimore Ravens, placed by a bettor in Nevada, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Additionally, the Bengals' money line, at -180, was the most popular leg on same-game parlays at Fanatics Sportsbooks. The Ravens won 27-24.
Underdogs are 7-6-1 ATS entering Monday. On the season, road teams are 17-12 straight-up and 18-9-2 ATS, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The "Monday Night Football" doubleheader features a pair of road favorites in the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns. The Saints were 3-point favorites over the Panthers, and the Browns were 2-point favorites over the Steelers.
Betting interest on the Panthers-Saints game on Monday had been slow at the SuperBook, but the nightcap between the Steelers and Browns was drawing significant interest.
"The early game doesn't have much action to report on," Murray of the SuperBook told ESPN, "but the handle for Browns-Steelers has been great. They pushed the Browns' line up all week, but now we are seeing resistance and the market moving back down a little toward the Steelers side. It would be better for business if the games were set as a true double header, but it's still a positive for us."
Christian McCaffrey scored the first touchdown in 49ers' win over the Rams on Sunday and caused the biggest payout of any game in PointsBet/Fanatics' touchdown scorer market.
Denver running back Jaleel McLaughlin had the longest odds for first touchdown scorer (26-1) of any player at Caesars Sportsbook. McLaughlin opened the scoring in the Commanders-Broncos game with a 5-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. However, no bets were placed on McLaughlin at Caesars.
Kevin Lawler, head of trading for PointsBet, estimated that first touchdown scorer market attracts one-eighth of the amount bet on the anytime touchdown scorer market. But the odds to score the first touchdown of a game is an increasing popular betting market in the NFL. It also caused some controversy last week.
The Cowboys scored the opening touchdown of the Week 1 Sunday night game against the Giants on a return of a blocked field goal. Sportsbooks that didn't offer an option to bet on a special teams touchdown being the first touchdown of the game scooped the whole pot, keeping all the money wagered on the first touchdown market. Bettors cried foul on social media, but to no avail. State regulators contacted by ESPN, including in Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, said sportsbooks are not required to list every possible outcome on a market.
Updated top odds to win the Super Bowl [via the SuperBook]
San Francisco 49ers (+650)
Kansas City Chiefs (+700)
Philadelphia Eagles (+750)
Dallas Cowboys (+750)
Buffalo Bills (+1,000)
Week 3 opening lines [via Caesars Sportsbook]
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-9.5, 43.5) (Thursday)
Buffalo Bills (-5.5, 45.5) at Washington Commanders
Dallas Cowboys (-10.5, 42) at Arizona Cardinals
Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs (-11.5, 50)
Philadelphia Eagles (-7, 45) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5, 46)
College football notables
The Colorado Buffaloes handed sportsbooks their biggest losses on first two full Saturdays of the season, and the betting public was all aboard the Buffaloes' bandwagon again against Colorado State, with upward of 90% of the money wagered on the game on coach Deion Sanders' team. The underdog Rams covered the 23-point spread but lost in double overtime.
Joey Feazel, lead college football trader for Caesars Sportsbook, said Colorado failing to cover the spread produced the biggest win of the early season for the house. "I think it just nudged out Clemson-Duke," Feazel said.