- Dave Tuley, ESPN Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS -- Contrary to the court of public opinion, the books don't always win. For Exhibit A (because it's the most recent example in everyone's mind), I submit Sunday's NFL card. Most people know by now that the public tends to bet favorites and overs. Well, faves won nine of the 11 games Sunday and went 7-4 against the spread while the overs were also 7-4. Toss in the Carolina Panthers' 31-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night and favorites and overs were both 8-4. There have certainly been weeks with even higher percentages of faves and overs hitting, but it's the way the games fell that made it worse for the books.
The New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints (two of the most popular teams that the books are almost always cheering against) both fought off sluggish first halves to pull away and cover. Parlays and teasers with them tended to be tied up to the Denver Broncos, who also struggled early before rolling to a 45-21 victory over the Washington Redskins and a big favorite/over result heading into the Sunday night game. There was a lot of wiseguy support for the Minnesota Vikings, but the public was on the Green Bay Packers per usual and they capped the day with a 44-31 win and another fave/over result.
In a normal week, if the books can have some key underdogs come in (killing some parlays and teasers along the way), they can overcome an 8-4 result, but the four 'dogs that did cover also were pretty popular, led by the New York Giants beating the Philadelphia Eagles outright 15-7 as a 5.5-point underdog and the Dallas Cowboys covering the plus-3 spread in their wild 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions. Even the Cleveland Browns in their 23-17 loss to the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs that stayed within the closing 7-point spread (bet down from a high of 9.5 at some books) and the Oakland Raiders' 21-18 outright upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 2.5-point home underdog had their share of public support.
"It's the worst Sunday of this season and it's not over yet," Jay Kornegay of the LVH SuperBook said Sunday night. "There are residual parlays built up during Sunday's action that are heading to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night."
Let's see what else we learned over the weekend and analyze the early line movement from the Week 9 openers to get us started looking ahead.
7hBy Jackie MacMullan
1dEric D. Williams