FOX sports betting analyst
If you’re a typical recreational or public bettor, the NFL Week 16 odds market probably didn’t treat you too well this Christmas holiday weekend.
In short, there was a good amount of coal left in the punters’ stockings.
And no team did more to make that happen than the Los Angeles Rams. Or the Denver Broncos, depending on your perspective.
Let’s dive into our betting roundup of the weekend.
Not so dangerous
For whatever reason, certainly not based on their record, Denver was a popular play on Christmas Day as a 3-point favorite over the Rams. At BetMGM, the Broncos were not only making straight bets on the spread and moneyline, they were also included in many parlays/moneyline parlays.
Ahead of the game, BetMGM VP of Trading Jason Scott said:
“We’ll need one of the two [remaining] favorites, Broncos or Bucs, to lose to win today.”
Russell Wilson then threw first-quarter interceptions on back-to-back passes, helping Los Angeles to a 17-0 lead. The three-hour carnage concluded with Wilson not even in the game and Brett Rypien throwing an INT to Rams cornerback Cobie Durant, who returned it 95 yards for a touchdown to cap a 51-14 rout.
This marked a major win for BetMGM and other bookmakers. Scott tried to put the outcome into perspective.
“If we lined it up as cash bundles, it would be more than you and I could jump on,” Scott said.
Fresh Christmas Eve
It wasn’t just cold on the field for many of the Christmas Eve games. Punters also froze on key matches.
The Chicago Bears were hot dogs in Week 16, getting 8 points at home against the Buffalo Bills. Chicago led 10-6 at halftime, so Bears fans certainly had reason to be optimistic.
But Buffalo proceeded to score 29 of the final 32 points of the game and went on to win, 35-13.
“It was a solid Christmas Eve with the Bills covering and the Over getting there despite the cold weather was a big winner for us,” said WynnBet Senior Trader Chris Youn.
The Bills-Bears total closed at 40.5, with most of the tickets and money on the Under.
While the Bears were public underdogs, the Detroit Lions were absolute darlings as public favorites against the host Carolina Panthers. The surging Lions, 1.5-point favorites, fell into a 31-7 hole early in the third quarter en route to a 37-23 loss.
“The Panthers coverage was another winner for us as we had five times as many Lions entries in the spread,” Youn said while noting that WynnBet also got favorable results on Saturday’s back-to-back games. “The 49ers taking care of business and their game gave us the best decision for the book in the afternoon. As for the night game, the Steelers win and coverage was the perfect end to a day solid”.
San Francisco, a 6-point home favorite against Washington, cruised to a 37-20 victory. Pittsburgh scored a late TD to dispatch Las Vegas 13-10 and clinch as a 2-point home favorite.
As was the case with BetMGM, WynnBet got a big boost Sunday from the Rams. Baker Mayfield & Co. he wasn’t even remotely threatened in the aforementioned 51-14 rout of the Broncos.
“The Packers win wasn’t great,” Youn said, referring to Green Bay’s 26-20 win as a popular 3.5-point underdog in Miami. “But we were profitable in the Rams game. We lost on the Rams money line, but we won twice as much on the Rams spread.”
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What about them Cowboys?
Well, that’s what you’d say if you were behind the counter. The Philadelphia Eagles — minus MVP candidate Jalen Hurts and thus starter Gardner Minshew — were another fashionable underdog with bettors for a Christmas Eve road game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Last week, the punt distribution was all over the place, first on Monday’s news of Hurts’ injuries, then on Thursday’s confirmation that he wouldn’t play. Dallas opened overall at -1.5, went as low as -6/-6.5 depending on where you bought, and closed at -4 before kickoff.
The Cowboys trailed for large parts of the game, but scored the final 13 points, all in the fourth quarter, to win in a shootout, 40-34. This is a cover, for those of you dialing in at home.
“Cowboys coverage was our best result of a good weekend,” said Casey Degnon, senior risk supervisor at The SuperBook. “He pumped a lot of public money into the Minshew-led Eagles right up until the start, so we were very grateful for that. [Miles] Sanders escapes late in fourth quarter.”
In fact, Sanders’ fumble at Philly’s 24-yard line with 2:19 left set up the Dallas field goal that provided the final 6-point margin.
I like high stakes and I can’t lie
A customer at Caesars Sports really enjoyed this weekend’s big bets, which shot up a ton of NFL plays. It was a veritable laundry list of #MajorWagers:
- $110,000 Patriots +3.5 vs. Bengals (loss)
- $131,000 Panthers +3.5 (-131) vs. Lions (win)
- $110,000 Eagles +6 at Cowboys (push)
- $110,000 Eagles-Cowboys Over 46.5 (win)
- $131,000 Raiders +3 (-131) at Steelers (push)
- $120,000 Vikings -3 (-120) vs. Giants (push)
- $110,000 Packers +4 at Dolphins (win)
- $110,000 Bears +9 vs. tickets (loss)
Add it all up and you have $932,000 in bets. And with three wins, three pushes (draws) and two losses, the bettor had a net profit of $80,000.
That’s a good return on investment of 8.6%. Can’t complain about that, but it’s a tough way to get there. Although this client probably doesn’t have money problems, it might not be that difficult.
For commoners, though, a reminder: keep it reasonable. Never bet more than you can afford to lose. Enjoy the Bolts and Colts on Monday Night Football.
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and a senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys playing golf in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.
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