The next time you start to point your finger at "Vegas" for being behind a wacky NFL ending, remember this: An outright victory by the Jets on Sunday would've produced the biggest win of the season for some bookmakers.
With the Raiders trailing 28-24 in the final seconds, rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III somehow got Jets rookie defensive back Lamar Jackson to bite on a stop-and-go route and then hauled in a game-winning, 46-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr. Las Vegas' "Miracle at the Meadowlands" gifted the favored Raiders a 31-28 victory. It also improved the winless Jets' chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.
"That was some strategy by the Jets," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said Sunday night, with just a tiny bit of sarcasm. "It would've been our biggest winner of the season to date if the Jets had won outright."
"Strategy" is one way to put it. The Jets -- again, leading by four points in the final seconds and needing only a tackle to secure their first win -- sent an all-out blitz, leaving Jackson on an island to handle the speedy Ruggs. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Jets are the only team to send eight-plus pass-rushers on a play in the final 30 seconds of a game this season.
Some bettors were grateful, including:
• A bettor with BetMGM, who staked $12,394 on the Raiders to beat the Jets straight up at -400, winning a net $3,099.
• A bettor with William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, who risked $11,400 on the Raiders to beat the Jets straight up at -380, winning $3,000.
Others were not pleased, including:
• A bettor with FanDuel who, way back on Sept. 8, placed a $25 bet on the Jets' first win of the season coming against the Raiders at 250-1. It would've paid $6,250.
• A bettor with William Hill U.S., who had $500 riding on the Jets to pull the outright upset at +320. That would've paid a net $1,600.
Overall, though, money-line bets on the Jets were scarce at most shops. Raiders-Jets was the most heavily bet game of the week at BetRivers sportsbooks, where a whopping 92% of the money-line handle backed Las Vegas. The story was the same at sportsbooks around the nation. Although there was money on the Jets to cover the 7.5-point spread, only a few were willing to take them to win outright on the money line.
"I don't know if we had but one or two bets on the Jets money line at all," said Johnny Avello, sportsbook director for DraftKings. "Ninety-something percent [of the bets] was on the Raiders money line."
The Jets entered Sunday as +125 to finish the regular season 0-16. With their remaining games against the Seahawks, Rams, Browns and Patriots, they seem like favorites now to become the third team to finish the regular season without a win and earn the No. 1 overall pick.
Here is this week's edition of Notable Bets, our weekly recap of the betting story lines from around the sports world.
• In case you were concerned about the sportsbooks losing on what would've been a giant payday on the Jets, bookmakers still managed to come out ahead Sunday. The books won big again in what, after an uneven start, is turning out to be a lucrative NFL season for the house.
"We had a good day," the SuperBook's Murray said. "[It] could've been very good if the Jaguars or Jets had won outright, but definitely no complaints."
BetMGM's Jeff Stoneback pointed to the Patriots' blowout of the Chargers and the Giants' upset of the Seahawks as catalysts for a "very good day" for his sportsbooks in Nevada.
• Leading up to kickoff of the prime-time game between the underdog Broncos and the Chiefs, sportsbook PointsBet reported that 86% of the point spread bets were on Kansas City, but more money was on Denver, which was catching 13 points. Approximately 68% of the total amount bet on the spread was on the Broncos.
A bettor with BetMGM placed a $110,000 bet on the Broncos +13.
Also at PointsBet, 95% of the money wagered on the Broncos-Chiefs total of 51.5 was on the over. The Chiefs won 22-16.
• PointsBet offers a type of bet that the sportsbook calls "PointsBetting," or spread betting, as it's often referred to in the gambling community. For every point by which a team covers the spread, the initial stake multiplies. PointsBet reported taking a $50 "pointsbet" on the Patriots +1. The bettor won $2,300 with New England's 45-0 win.
• The Patriots closed as underdogs to the Chargers, snapping New England's 45-game streak of being favored against opponents with losing records. The streak dated to a 2013 game against the Falcons.
• The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, reported taking a $150,000 money-line bet on the Titans to beat the Browns straight up at -205. Cleveland won 41-35.
With Sunday's loss to the Browns, the over in Ryan Tannehill starts with the Titans improved to 19-3 in regular-season games. Ten of the Titans' past 11 regular-season games with Tannehill starting have eclipsed the total.
• Ohio State opened as a 30-point favorite over Michigan at Las Vegas sportsbook Circa Sports. That's the largest point spread in the rivalry since at least 1978. Michigan has never been this big of an underdog in that span.
• Other notable opening lines from Circa Sports, the first sportsbook to post weekly college football point spreads:
Wisconsin at Iowa (-1, 43.5)
Coastal Carolina (-15, 54.5) at Troy
LSU at Florida (-23, 60.5)
North Carolina at Miami (-3, 67.5)
USC (-2, 59.5) at UCLA
Alabama (-31, 66.5) at Arkansas