Notable Bets: A tough NFL Sunday for the betting public

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Alan Berg, a senior oddsmaker at Caesars Sportsbook who works the late shift on Sundays, liked where things stood heading into the prime-time battle between the New England Patriots and Houston Texans.

He scrolled through the day's results and identified the eight biggest decisions. Caesars won six of them, the 39-year-old noted in his typical understated manner.

"We're pretty good," Berg said. "Texans would take us to a really good area."

The Texans upset the Patriots 28-22.

Here is this week's edition of Notable Bets, our roundup of sports betting storylines from around the nation:


• Sportsbooks didn't lose many games on a Sunday that saw a near-even split between favorites and underdogs covering the spread. Heading into the night game, underdogs were 6-5 against the spread (ATS), and books were up amounts characterized as "decent" and "pretty good."

• The Broncos beating the Chargers 23-20 as a 4.5-point underdogs produced the biggest win of the day for Caesars and CG Technology sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

• The Chargers opened as 1-point favorites and attracted early influential money. "Early in the week, we took a sharp limit play [on the Chargers]," CG Technology oddsmaker Dave Sharapan said. The action on the Chargers continued Sunday, when it was announced Denver rookie quarterback Drew Lock would make his first career start. "[The Chargers] were in money-line parlays. It was in everything."

• Sportsbooks also did well on the Redskins and Dolphins, a pair of double-digit underdogs that pulled outright upsets over the Panthers and Eagles, respectively.

• Sportsbook PointsBet took a $35,000 money-line parlay on the Panthers (-500) and the Eagles (-525) that would have paid a net $14,700. Carolina lost to Washington 29-21 and Philadelphia lost to Miami 37-31.

• "By far our best games were the Eagles losing and Carolina losing," Ed Salmons, vice president of trading at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said.

• The home-underdog Steelers also hurt the betting public, which sided with the Browns as short favorites. The Steelers beat the Browns 20-13, doing serious damage to Cleveland's playoff hopes.

• Entering the season, more bets had been placed on the Browns to win the Super Bowl than had been placed on any other team at multiple sportsbooks.

• MGM said it took a $200,000 bet on the Browns -1.5 against the Steelers. The Steelers beat the Browns 20-13.

• The underdog Bengals (+2.5) beating the Jets 22-6 was another winner for the books. "The Jets game was a decent game," Salmons said. "We were kind of inviting Jets money, and we got some."

• The Packers covering the 6.5-point spread in a 31-13 win over the New York Giants was the best game for the betting public.

• Shortly before kickoff, 90% of the point-spread bet on the Packers-Giants game was on favored Green Bay at William Hill sportsbooks across the nation.

• Thirty minutes before the 1 p.m. ET kickoff, there were twice as many bets on the Packers as there were on any other team at Caesars Sportsbook.

• More bets were placed on Packers-Giants than any other early game at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where 82% of the wagers on the point spread were on Green Bay.

• Packers-Giants was the most heavily bet game of the day at PointsBet, where 90% of the bets and 80% of the money was on Green Bay.

• While the action was lopsided on the Packers at most books, the largest reported bet of the day was on the Giants. A bettor in New Jersey placed a $440,000 bet on the Giants +6.5 on bookmaker William Hill's app. The bet was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

• The Texans upsetting the Patriots turned a decent winning day for sportsbooks into a huge winner.

• "A lot of big bets on the Texans this week, which was interesting," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook, told ESPN in an email. "The public is (obviously) all over the Patriots, but we somehow ended up pretty even on the game because of the bigger tickets coming in on Houston."

• MGM sportsbooks said it was up mid-six figures on the day heading into the night game. "But [we] are exposed to give almost all back with a Pats cover," MGM sportsbook supervisor Scott Shelton told ESPN late Sunday afternoon. "If Texans hold on, it will be a nice day."

• DraftKings reported taking a $565,000 bet on the Texans +4 (-125). The New Jersey customer won $452,000.

• A bettor correctly picked the winner of all 12 NFL games Sunday at FanDuel, turning a $1 parlay into a $10,128 payday.

Early Week 14 lines

From Caesars Sportsbook, at completion of Sunday night game.


Dallas Cowboys (-3, 42.5) at Chicago Bears


San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5, 45)
Baltimore Ravens (-5.5, 43) at Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons (-2, 48)
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (Off)
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (Off)
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (Off)
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3, 49)
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (-6, 44)
Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers (-13.5, 43)
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (Off)
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5, 42.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5, 43) at Arizona Cardinals
Tennessee Titans (-3, 46.5) at Oakland Raiders
Seattle Seahawks (-2, 47) at Los Angeles Rams


New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-8, 46.5)

College football

Leaky Egg Bowl

• There were two leaks at the Egg Bowl, one before kickoff and another in the game's final seconds. Both were meaningful.

Mississippi State opened as a 3-point favorite over rival Ole Miss. The line ticked down to Mississippi State -2.5 in the days leading up to the Thursday kickoff, and then really began to shrink on Thanksgiving Day. By 6:30 p.m. ET, an hour prior to kickoff, Ole Miss was listed as the favorite at most sportsbooks.

Around the same time, pictures of senior quarterback Tommy Stevens, Mississippi State's expected starter, in street clothes began to appear on social media. Soon, Stevens was ruled out with an injury. With true freshman Garrett Shrader starting for Mississippi State, the consensus line closed at Ole Miss -2.

The Bulldogs held on for a dramatic win, in part thanks to the second leak of the day, this one occurring in the end zone after a late Ole Miss touchdown that brought the Rebels within one with 4 seconds to play.

Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore, who caught the late touchdown pass, celebrated by crawling on all fours, lifting his leg and pretending to urinate like a dog. Moore was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, pushing a potential tying extra point back 15 yards. Rebels kicker Luke Logan missed the 35-yard attempt, and Mississippi State won 21-20.

More notables

• If the favorites in the Power 5 conference title games win this week, the College Football Playoff selection committee is expected to be left with a decision between Oklahoma and Utah for the fourth playoff spot, behind Ohio State, LSU and Clemson.

If the Sooners and Utes played on a neutral field, Salmons of the SuperBook said he'd make Utah a 1-point favorite.

• Sportsbooks reported a small winning day Saturday on college football.

• "Auburn was a great result for us," Murray of the SuperBook said. "But we took losses on the Ohio State game and the LSU game."

• Opening conference title game lines at Caesars Sportsbook:

Pac-12: Oregon vs. Utah (-6)
MAC: Miami (Ohio) vs. Central Michigan (-6)
Sun Belt: Louisiana at Appalachian State (-6.5)
Big 12: Baylor vs. Oklahoma (-9.5)
Conference USA: UAB at Florida Atlantic (-7.5)
American: Cincinnati at Memphis (-10)
Mountain West: Hawai'i at Boise State (-14.5)
SEC: Georgia vs. LSU (-5.5)
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State (-16.5)
ACC: Virginia vs. Clemson (-29)

• "We opened LSU at -5.5 and took a bet there from a sharp guy," Berg of Caesars said.

• Updated odds to win the national championship at Caesars Sportsbook:

Ohio State 3-2
Clemson 2-1
LSU 5-2
Georgia 11-1
Oklahoma 20-1
Utah 25-1
Baylor 75-1

Odds and ends

Largest NBA bet

• The largest bet on an NBA game that the sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has ever taken since opening for business in the summer of 2018 was placed Saturday -- a $260,000 wager on over 206 in the Sacramento Kings-Denver Nuggets game. The game went into overtime but still stayed under the total, with the Kings winning 100-97.

The bettor is a VIP house player who normally bets NFL and baseball. He placed the bet around 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday.

A six-figure bet on an NBA total is practically unheard of and required some consideration by Borgata sportsbook staff before accepting the wager.

"Obviously in the NBA, we aren't even going to come close to having any offsetting money for a wager of that size," Borgata sportsbook director Tom Gable told ESPN in an email. "We looked at the total, which was right around where the market was (actually maybe a half-point higher than some places) and decided to take it.

"There was no sweat all game with the way the total was trending until about the last minute when we realized it could go into overtime," Gable added. "The only thing that saved us was it was so far under the total at the end of regulation, we still had 26 points to play with in overtime. My worst fear was that it was going to go to a second overtime. Luckily, that didn't happen."


• Caesars Sportsbook opened Conor McGregor as a -240 favorite over Daniel Cerrone in their non-title welterweight bout in UFC 246 on Jan. 18 in Las Vegas.

• "We had guys laying the price, because we opened it a little shorter than the offshore [sportsbook] market," Murray of the SuperBook said.