Sunday was a rough day for the sportsbooks.
In the 1 p.m. window of the NFL’s Week 6, every single betting favorite covered the spread. In a season that was dominated by underdogs in the early going, all seven favorites covered, levying a tough blow to the books.
Jeff Stoneback, the Director of Trading for BetMGM, told Yahoo Sports that Sunday was “the worst day” he’s seen during his time in the industry, which spans several decades.
“I’ve been in the business for 35 years. It was the worst day behind the counter we’ve ever had in 35 years,” Stoneback said. “The public crushed it today.”
In all, the favorites went 9-3 straight-up and 8-4 against the spread on Sunday. Stoneback said the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys were all “very significant” winners for the public.
The Chiefs, Rams and Packers all covered pretty comfortably. The Chiefs were 6.5-point favorites on the road against the Washington Football Team and won 31-13. The Rams opened as 10.5-point favorites over the New York Giants, but the line actually ended up closing at 7.5. That late movement wouldn’t matter as the Rams cruised to a 38-11 victory.
The Packers faced the division rival Chicago Bears, also on the road, and won 24-14 as 5.5-point favorites. The Bears cut Green Bay’s lead to 17-14 midway through the fourth quarter, but Aaron Rodgers sealed the victory — and a cover for Packers bettors — with a late rushing touchdown.
The Cowboys, though, needed overtime to get past the New England Patriots on the road and cover the 3.5-point spread. More on that in a bit.
The public loves betting favorites, usually to its detriment. But over the last two weeks the betting public has done very well, much to the chagrin of the sportsbooks.
Bad beats in Patriots vs. Cowboys
Since dropping their opener to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys have been on fire. Entering Sunday, the Cowboys were riding a four-game winning streak and had scored a combined 121 points in their last three games.
All three of those games were at home, though, and Dallas was just a 3.5-point favorite on the road against the Patriots, a team that needed a last-minute field goal to beat the Houston Texans in the previous week.
Understandably, most of the action was with the favorite. As of Sunday morning, 70% of the bets and 76% of the money at BetMGM were on the Cowboys covering the 3.5. With 6:23 left in the fourth quarter, however, the Patriots took a 21-20 lead.
In the final three minutes of regulation, the Cowboys would miss a field goal, go ahead on a Trevon Diggs pick-six and then immediately surrender that lead on a 75-yard Mac Jones touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne.
The Cowboys then forced overtime with a field goal with 20 seconds remaining. Still, Patriots bettors were in decent shape. Nearly all of the possible overtime outcomes would result in the Patriots covering the 3.5 points. The only thing they needed to avoid was a Cowboys touchdown.
That, of course, is what happened. The Patriots opened overtime with a punt. On the ensuing drive, when all they needed was a field goal to win the game, Dak Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb for the game-winning 35-yard touchdown.
It was a bad beat for Patriots bettors, but also for under bettors. The total closed at 50.5 and the score was 21-20 with 6:23 to go. Between the final 2:27 of regulation and overtime, 23 additional points were scored as the Cowboys prevailed 35-29.
The Cowboys are now 6-0 against the spread this season. They are the only NFL team with an undefeated ATS record this season.
Another public underdog covers the spread
The old saying goes: “public dogs have fleas.” But for the past two weeks, that has not been the case.
Last week, 63% of the bets and 70% of the money was on the Buffalo Bills as 2.5-point road underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bills cruised to a 38-20 victory. This week, the public dog was the undefeated Arizona Cardinals as 3-point road underdogs against the Cleveland Browns.
As of Sunday morning, 65% of the bets at BetMGM were on the Cardinals and they came through with an easy 37-14 victory. Arizona played the game without coach Kliff Kingsbury, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Despite the absence of their head coach, Kyler Murray threw four touchdown passes and the defense forced three turnovers in the win.
The Cardinals are now 6-0 overall and 5-1 ATS this season. The Cardinals and Packers are tied for the second-best ATS mark in the NFL, behind the Cowboys.
Bad beat on 'Thursday Night Football'
Before we got to Sunday, the "Thursday Night Football" game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers provided a whirlwind for bettors.
The Eagles, who closed as 7-point home underdogs, were struggling mightily on offense for most of the game. The Bucs had a 28-7 lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles managed to battle back. Jalen Hurts had a rushing touchdown with 2:15 left in the third quarter and then scored again with 5:54 to go.
That touchdown cut the Bucs lead to 28-20, and Eagles coach Nick Sirianni opted to go for two in an analytics-driven decision that had massive spread implications. The Eagles, of course, converted to make the score 28-22.
The Eagles were inside the number, but there was still time for the Bucs to cover the spread. Instead, after marching into the red zone, the Bucs got a key first down and kneeled the clock out after the Eagles burned their remaining timeouts.
The final score was 28-22 and the Eagles miraculously covered the spread, much to the chagrin of Bucs bettors.