It was not quite a blizzard, but it was bizarre. A thick white blanket covered the field in Philadelphia, and in elements better suited for a sled dog race in Alaska, LeSean McCoy seemed to run from Anchorage to Nome.
Scoreless late in the third quarter, the Eagles also appeared to be something close to hopeless.
“It was ugly conditions. It looked like there was going to be 7 feet of snow,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “For a while there, I didn’t think there was going to be a score.”
And then came the scoring avalanche. McCoy finished with 217 yards rushing, dancing his way in the snow to the best day in history for an Eagles running back, in a 34-20 victory over the Detroit Lions, who blew a 14-0 lead and fumbled seven times, losing three.
The underdog Lions made some mistakes, as they usually do, and as Rood said, “No pun intended, but it snowballed on them.”
Due to inclement weather, the total dropped from 54 to as low as 49½, and a game that was 8-0 at the half went flying over, of course. No NFL weekend passes without some betting bad beats and insane games.
The tale of this particular Sunday, especially the first half of it, was as bizarre as anything written by Hunter S. Thompson.
“It was crazy, just crazy,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was a fun day for us and a fun day for the guests. It was a crazy day with the weather, and a lot changed in the final minutes of several games.”
The Minnesota-Baltimore game was fun only for those who didn’t bet the Vikings at plus-240 on the money line or under the total of 41½. The Ravens led 7-6 going to the fourth quarter, when the teams combined for 42 points and there were five touchdowns in the final 2:05.
Baltimore, a 6-point favorite, won 29-26 on Joe Flacco’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown with four seconds to go. Brown tapped his feet in the snow in the back of the end zone, at about the same time the Cleveland Browns were tapping out.
It was not fun for those who bet the Browns at plus-400 or more on the money line or under the total of 47½. Cleveland, a 10-point ’dog at New England, led 6-0 at halftime, 19-3 late in the third quarter and 26-14 with just over a minute to go.
But, of course, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in a 30-second span and the Patriots won 27-26 after recovering an onside kick and benefitting from a pass interference flag in the end zone.
“The call that put the stake in our heart,” Rood said. “It was a bad call.”
The Patriots were on some “significant money-line parlays,” Rood said, and it happened to be a great Sunday to play favorites on the money line.
Favorites won 13 of the 14 games — Miami’s wild 34-28 win at Pittsburgh was the exception — and went 9-5 against the spread.
“A lot of the public favorites got there,” Rood said before the kickoff of Carolina-New Orleans. “We’re either going to get even or get even deeper. The public is doubling down on the Saints.”
New Orleans, a 3-point favorite, more than doubled up the Panthers in a 31-13 win that stayed under the total of 48 in the Superdome. If it was cold and snowing, it probably would have been a high-scoring shootout.
Aside from the Saints, the public favorites that got there were Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego and Tampa Bay. The Bengals blasted the Colts 42-28 while the Chiefs were routing the Redskins 45-10.
“I’m not sure the Colts are any good anymore. I still think the Bengals are a sleeper team,” Esposito said. “It was pretty much an onslaught of just one-sided action on Kansas City.”
The Chargers slaughtered the New York Giants 37-14 in what Rood called “our biggest loss of the day.”
My lone loser was San Francisco, a 2½-point favorite in a 19-17 win against Seattle. That was not fun for those who laid the points or took the Seahawks plus-120 on the money line.
It appeared the 49ers might cover when Frank Gore busted free with nothing in front of him but grass and the goal line with around four minutes remaining. But Gore was caught from behind and took a dive at the 18-yard line after a 51-yard run. With the time ticking under two minutes, it can be argued Seattle’s best shot to win was by allowing San Francisco to score. Instead, the Seahawks played it straight, and the 49ers burned the clock and Pete Carroll by winning on a 22-yard field goal.
The Redskins took the most lopsided loss, and it might be costly to coach Mike Shanahan. But the Patriots likely suffered the worst loss, as tight end Rob Gronkowski went down with a possible season-ending knee injury.
Rood described it as a “wacky Sunday.”
Add to it the Green Bay Packers, who, if they get quarterback Aaron Rodgers back, still have a shot to come back and win the NFC North as mistakes snowball on the Lions.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.