Saturday, June 3 2023

There was only one notable game on the college football odds board over the weekend, the annual ArmyNavy showdown. But even with just one game, there was noteworthy betting news. We will have more on that game in a bit.

The NFL Week 14 odds market provided plenty of moments, too. Quick: Over the past six weeks, who’s the best NFL team against the spread?

Your answer is coming up as we recap the football betting weekend that was.

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Hear Them Roar

When you think of teams that will make you money, the Detroit Lions probably don’t immediately spring to mind. But perhaps they should.

Even though Detroit was just 5-7 entering its game against the 10-2 Minnesota Vikings, oddsmakers had the Lions as 2.5-point home favorites. Jared Goff & Co. then proved the oddsmakers correct, with Detroit winning 31-23.

The Lions are 5-1 straight up (SU) and a perfect 6-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last six games. And while BetMGM wanted the Lions to win, the sportsbook wanted that victory to come by the slimmest possible margin.

“We have a one-point gap in our favor. We want the Lions to win by one,” BetMGM vice president of trading Jason Scott said pregame. “There’s money for the Lions spread and the Vikings moneyline.”

So that was an L for the book and a relatively easy cover for Detroit bettors.

Dallas Almost Downed

The Cowboys were 17.5-point home favorites against the Houston Texans, the largest point spread of the season in the NFL. Yet Dallas got all it could handle before scoring a final-minute touchdown to escape with a 27-23 victory.

It was almost a perfect confluence of events for bookmakers.

“That last Cowboys drive cost us,” Scott said, noting a Texans upset would’ve been massive. “It would have demolished moneyline parlays.”

Instead, bettors who had Dallas on their moneyline parlay tickets lived on.

“That would’ve knocked out quite a bit of moneyline parlay liability,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “That last touchdown hurt us. We had a lot of Dallas moneyline parlays. It was like a free bet.”

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Run the Cover Play

If you bet the New York Jets +9.5 on the road against the Buffalo Bills, then you were over the moon with coach Robert Saleh’s late-game decision-making. Trailing 20-9 with 1:18 remaining and facing fourth-and-1 at the Bills’ 9-yard line, the Jets opted to kick the field goal.

It didn’t stop Buffalo from winning 20-12. But it did allow the Jets to cover the spread. With the Bills drawing their typical heavy support from public/recreational bettors, The SuperBook was just fine with Saleh’s decision.

“We won a decent amount on the Jets-Bills game,” SuperBook senior risk supervisor Casey Degnon said. “That Jets field goal definitely helped us a lot.”

Up-and-Down Day

WynnBet senior trader Chris Youn echoed what many oddsmakers had to say about the NFL Week 14 results. Books generally had a winning day, but a modest one – so at least some of us folks on this side of the counter cashed some tickets.

“Today was a small winning day. We had a lot of key moneyline decisions, with the 49ers, Ravens and Panthers against their respective opponents,” Youn said, noting the book got W’s from each of those teams. “But we did lose to the spread in all three of those games. It was just one of those days where we had a bunch of small winners and not too many losing games.”

San Francisco (-3.5) wiped out visiting Tampa Bay 35-7, Baltimore (+1.5) edged host Pittsburgh 16-14, and Carolina (+3.5) stopped Seattle 30-24.

Sharp Surge Short-Circuited

On Sunday morning, ahead of the Cleveland BrownsCincinnati Bengals clash, there was a big push of sharp money on the road underdog Browns. The Bengals dropped from -5.5 to -4 in short order, but Scott said BetMGM still needed the Browns, with plenty of public money on the Bengals.

However, at the South Point on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, that late sharp-money surge had the book in a bad spot with Cleveland. Cincinnati won 23-10 to cover the number easily.

“The Bengals result was really good,” Andrews said. “There was big, big steam on the Browns, sharp guys on the Browns.”

Added WynnBet’s Youn: “The Bengals covering was a great result, as we had 3/1 tickets on Cincinnati, but the big money was on the Browns spread.”

Back to School

It was a service academy Saturday in college football, with Army facing Navy at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The story in this game was all about the total: In the 16 previous Army-Navy games, the Under hit every time, a preposterous 16-0 run.

Oddsmakers certainly took notice. The total closed at a tidy 32.5 as the game kicked off, and sure enough, the Black Knights and Midshipmen played a grind-it-out game in which the Under was absolutely the right side.

Unless the two teams went to overtime. 

Which they did, with the game tied at 20 after four quarters. As many oddsmakers and bettors will tell you, overtime is where Unders go to die, apparently, even in Army-Navy games.

In the first OT, the two teams exchanged touchdowns to remain knotted at 17, finally bringing the Under streak to an end. Army went on to win 20-17 in double OT as a 2.5-point underdog.

I Like Big Bets and I Cannot Lie

Caesars Sports reports big-money wagers every week, and NFL Week 14 odds were no less attractive to high-rollers. It was right out of the gate, too, with one customer plopping $110,000 on the Rams +7 (-120) on the Thursday night game against the visiting Raiders.

Los Angeles looked done, facing a 16-3 fourth-quarter deficit. But Baker Mayfield – Baker Mayfield? – led two long TD drives, including a 98-yarder in 95 seconds that gave the Rams a shocking 17-16 win. Not that the big bettor needed the outright victory, but the wager was a winner, nonetheless.

Other #MajorWager action:

  • Two $150,000 Vikings +3.5 (-150) plays at Lions (loss)
  • $110,000 Vikings-Lions Under 52.5 (loss)
  • Two $110,000 Bills -9.5 bets vs. Jets (loss)
  • $110,000 Bucs +3.5 at 49ers (loss)
  • $110,000 Cowboys -16 vs. Texans (loss)
  • $110,000 Chargers +3.5 (-115) vs. Dolphins (win)

The bookmaker got the best of the bettors in that tranche of wagers. So it’s a good time to remind: Never bet more than you can afford to lose. #ChilisMoney bets suited me just fine this weekend: Army-Navy Over (which I fully didn’t deserve to win) and Chargers moneyline vs. Dolphins. Let’s eat!

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.

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