Entering Week 15, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on a roll.
They had won four straight games and covered the spread in all four. And with a win on Sunday night over the New Orleans Saints, the Bucs could clinch the NFC South with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Bucs closed as 11.5-point home favorites at BetMGM, but the Saints were more than ready to play that underdog role. And one BetMGM customer in Pennsylvania was a big believer in the Saints in this spot.
That bettor wagered a whopping $525,000 on the Saints to cover the spread. The Saints did more than just cover the spread. They won outright, 9-0. It was a defensive performance for the ages by the Saints.
The Bucs entered Sunday night’s game with the No. 1 passing and scoring offense in the NFL, but Brady was limited to just 214 yards and an interception on 26-of-48 attempts. Brady was shut out for the first time since 2006. Before Sunday, it had been 255 consecutive starts for Brady without being shut out.
In recent seasons, the Saints have thrived as road underdogs. Over their last 20 games as road dogs, the Saints are 13-6-1 ATS with 10 outright wins. And since the start of the 2019 season, the Saints are 7-2 ATS as a road dog with six outright wins.
The BetMGM customer cashed in on that trend in a big way with that bet yielding a payout of just over $1 million — $1,002,272.73 to be exact.
Strong Sunday for sportsbook
The books bounced back in a big way.
With NFL favorites going 12-1 straight up and 11-2 against the spread in Week 14, the sportsbook at BetMGM had its “worst weekend of the year” last weekend. Week 15 was a much different story as underdogs were 6-4 against the spread on Sunday.
Last week, just one of Sunday’s games resulted in a positive outcome for the book. In Week 15, there were only two games that were not a winner for the book.
Jeff Stoneback, the director of trading for BetMGM, told Yahoo Sports that the lone winners for the public side were the Cincinnati Bengals upsetting the Denver Broncos as 3-point underdogs and the Pittsburgh Steelers holding off the Tennessee Titans as 1-point favorites.
The rest were winners for the house, and that includes the nightcap between the Saints and Bucs — even with that massive Saints bet hitting. Overall, 73% of the bets and 69% of the money came in on the Bucs covering that spread. Additionally, 84% of the bets and 80% of the money in the game was on over 44.5 points. With the Saints putting the clamps on Brady and the Bucs, that didn't come close.
The book usually gets most of its big wins with underdogs covering the spread. On Sunday, there were a few favorites that were big winners for the book because of some six-figure bets.
BetMGM took a $500,000 bet on the Atlanta Falcons covering as 9-point underdogs against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers won 31-13. There was also a $300,000 bet on the New York Giants covering as 11.5-point underdogs against the Dallas Cowboys, but Dallas won 21-6.
Lions pull off stunner, upset Cardinals
The biggest upset of the day came in Detroit.
The one-win Lions have played in close games all season long, mostly in losing efforts. They were able to put together their best game of the season on Sunday when they beat the Arizona Cardinals 30-12. The 10-win Cardinals were 12.5-point road favorites, but the Lions jumped on them early. The Lions jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and never looked back.
The Cardinals received 79% of the bets and 71% of the money at BetMGM. On top of that, 68% of the bets and 75% of the money came in on the over 48. With the Lions covering (and winning to spoil a ton of moneyline parlays) and the game staying under the total, it was another big win for the book on Sunday.
The Lions are just 2-11-1 overall on the year, but Sunday’s result brought them to 9-5 against the spread. That’s tied with the Colts, Patriots and Cardinals for the second-best ATS mark in the NFL.
The Lions are also 4-2 ATS as double-digit underdogs this season.
Ravens nearly beat Packers without Lamar Jackson
The point spread in the Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers game was moving all week. Before kickoff, when Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was officially ruled out, the Packers ended up as 9.5-point road favorites.
The Packers have been the best ATS team in the NFL this season and bettors were all over Green Bay once again. According to BetMGM, 85% of the bets and 85% of the money were on Green Bay.
Midway through the fourth, the Packers had a 31-17 lead. The Ravens, though, fought back with Tyler Huntley at quarterback. Huntley led two touchdown drives in the final five minutes. That second touchdown made it 31-30 with just 42 seconds to play. That’s when Ravens coach John Harbaugh decided to go for two — a decision that would backfire.
Huntley looked for tight end Mark Andrews in the corner of the end zone, but his pass fell incomplete, allowing the Packers to hold on to a 31-30 win.
Still, Huntley’s efforts were enough to get the Ravens a cover.
With that result, the Packers dropped to 11-3 ATS on the year. They are tied with the Cowboys for the best ATS mark in the NFL.