By Micah Roberts
Gaming Today Las Vegas
Between the sports books beating every major decision in Saturday’s college action and a slew of outright underdog winners in the NFL, the two days came close to being one of the best combined weekend wins ever for Las Vegas sports books. The figures varied somewhat based on being a strip or locals property with the major differences being the extraordinary handle and win the local books get with parlay cards.
A good weekend of normal parlay card hold -- pre-2010 NFL season -- would be considered holding 30%. After Sunday‘s games all washed, most books were holding over 70% of card handle.
Saturday’s most weighted public college teams like Alabama, Florida, Stanford, Oregon and Arizona all failed to win or cover setting the stage up for Sunday’s NFL action. Most of the sports books anticipated week 5 being the bettors turn and braced for the inevitable cycle of fairness, but it didn’t happen. The underdog trend continued and actually grew stronger with the dogs going 9-4.
This season truly has been amazing and has thrown a wrench into just about everyone’s handicapping tendencies. I suggested last week to stay the course and that things should all cycle around again, but I’m less confident now and I’m now saying that it may be time go outside the box. It’s apparent that anything can happen and that all teams are capable of winning anywhere at anytime.
For instance, why even take points anymore when you can just take the money line and cash in. That’s what happened Sunday when nine of the underdogs won outright -- no points needed -- with only four favorites winning.
During the early games, things didn’t seem so out of line just because the two largest spreads got there and the underdogs that won weren’t that big of a surprise. The Ravens and Colts were each 7-point favorites and covered while the Bengals lost as a 6 ½-point home favorite to the Buccaneers. It was what happened in the late games that threw the entire week for a loop when all three large underdogs won straight up and ultimately killed the bettors chances.
The Saints, Chargers and Cowboys weren’t just ordinary favorites, either, they each had strong 7-point spreads. In all three games it came down to the final minute to decide the winner, but covering the spread was never really in doubt for each of their opponents. The major question was whether the dogs could pull off the upsets, and they did.
The Chargers and Cowboys each passed for over 400 yards, but made key turnovers and mistakes that they were never able to recover from. The Raiders blocked two punts and forced two San Diego turnovers inside the red zone, and that was only in the first quarter, but it set the tempo for the rest of the game.
Probably the Cowboys biggest mistake -- one that won’t show up in the box score -- is that Wade Phillips is still the head coach. 12 ill-timed penalties for 133 yards kept the Titans in position all game long to keep the Cowboys defense off balance, and it‘s all a reflection of their coach and his lackadaisical approach. The best thing Jerry Jones could do is get a coach who screams loud at players, levies fines and suspensions to get that extra 15% missing from their individual games.
Cowboy fans must have a hard time watching Phillips show no emotion when his players do something dumb. At one point you could actually read Phillips lips as he was talking into the head set where he said, “What just happened” after another penalty.
Some of the Sharp plays of the day went the books way as well. The Ravens covered, but the Bills and Panthers each lost. All three of those games saw significant action on game day and rose by a point-and-a-half each. The three plays all made sense on paper where the spread was maybe deflated a little to catch up to the crazy adjusted ratings of today’s NFL parity.
The Panthers went to 0-5 on the season joining the Bills and 49ers as the only winless teams after the Lions smashed the Rams to get out of that group. A Panthers bettor must be shaking his head wondering how it’s possible to lose a game when the starting quarterback throws four interceptions as back-up Todd Collins did for the Bears.
Let’s hope it gets easier this week where we have two double digit favorites and only three others that are a touchdown favorite or above. You’ve got San Diego on the road again where they are now 0-3, Ben Roethlisberger making his season debut against the Browns and the Packers hosting Miami with Aaron Rodgers on concussion status.
The game that stands out the most is Denver getting over 3-points at home against the Jets. After watching Kyle Orton move the ball effectively against the Ravens top ranked pass defense in Baltimore, I am now a believer that his offense game can’t be stopped by anyone. I’d look for a high scoring game that the Broncos should hang around in and then maybe get some Mile High Magic near the end.
Good Luck and make week six yours to own!