LAS VEGAS -- How did your NFL picks do on Sunday?
If you came out ahead, I'd like to shake your hand -- because you're in the minority. The sports book directors here don't like to gloat when they win big because it's bad for business to take people's money and flaunt it, but there was no disguising the joy behind the counters as the results came in Sunday.
Favorites actually went 8-4-1 against the spread on Sunday, and that's usually a recipe for disaster for the books, but the dogs that came in caused most of the damage while a few favorites that the books needed also covered. Including the Chiefs' upset of the Eagles on Thursday night, favorites are 8-5-1 ATS with five outright upsets (Chiefs, Browns, Bengals, Panthers and Colts) heading into Monday night. And yes, that only adds up to 14 games because I grade the result against the ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Lines that I get from the Don Best real-time odds screen because the Lions-Redskins game closed as a consensus pick-em. The unders were 9-6, which also helped the books, as bettors still tend to bet more overs (see last week's item titled "Don't 'over'react"). Unders actually lead 25-22 for the season heading into Monday night's game. As for ATS, they don't call the point spread "the great equalizer" for nothing as favorites and underdogs are split 22-22-2 ATS.
Let's look at what we learned on Sunday from a gambling perspective, and then we'll see if we can apply those lessons to next week's games, as well as examine the early line moves.
1. Remember: If it looks too easy, it probably isn't
Think of the things you heard (or maybe even said yourself) last week about the Sunday games. Do these sound familiar? The Browns have given up on the season; the Vikings are a lock. The Giants won't start 0-3 and they're better than the Panthers (I was guilty of that one). The Pack is back, and they're only laying 2.5 points! Squares and sharps alike jumped all over those three favorites and were wrong on all three.