Playoff-like buzz amid bettors killed by Broncos' defeat


Every once in a while, a football game lives up to extreme hype and maybe even exceeds it. Lately, most of those games involve Peyton Manning.

If it’s a Sunday, and the NFL is in season, people tend to get really excited, and the sports book sees a little more action than the keno lounge.

“It’s almost a playoff-type atmosphere,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “The hype and the buzz is kind of cool. It’s arguably one of the bigger regular-season games that I can remember this early. It’s a great crowd in the sports book.”

Esposito was excited, and he was not talking about the Dallas-Philadelphia game, which almost killed the buzz.

Every once in a while, a game gets hyped up and falls woefully short of a classic. That was the story in Philadelphia, where the fans always show up in a foul mood, and on this occasion, they exited feeling miserable.

With first place in the NFC East on the line, the fast-breaking Eagles, led by offensive genius Chip Kelly and quarterback Nick Foles, were extremely embarrassing.

“For a team that is supposed to be explosive,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said, “three points is pretty pathetic.”

Here are two takeaways from Week 7: Manning and the Denver Broncos are not unstoppable, and the Eagles are not reinventing the way offense is played. So don’t always believe the hype.

Philadelphia, a 3-point favorite, fell 17-3 on a day when the Cowboys were short-handed and quarterback Tony Romo didn’t play all that well. But Dallas left town in the driver’s seat in the division.

Rood called the Eagles’ quarterbacks “kind of a mess,” and he was being kind. Michael Vick was out with a hamstring injury. When he’s healthy, it’s his job again. Foles was a total flop, completing 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards. He constantly missed open receivers before leaving with a head injury. Matt Barkley relieved and hit wide-open Dallas defensive backs three times.

Former coach Steve Mariucci, speaking on a pregame show, predicted 100 points. The total was 55½. The Cowboys and Eagles combined for 20 points, 18 punts, five interceptions and one lousy game. Of course, it was thing of beauty for those who bet on Dallas.

“The public was mostly on the Cowboys,” Rood said. “If not for their loss to Denver, there probably would be talk about the Cowboys being one of the best teams in the league.”

Kansas City, 2-14 last season, is the league’s only undefeated team at 7-0. Kicked out of Philadelphia, Andy Reid is a heavy favorite for Coach of the Year. The Chiefs failed to cover as 6½-point favorites but did enough to beat Houston 17-16.

The Texans, who got little public support, covered for the first time in seven tries, and did it in quarterback Case Keenum’s first start.

“The Chiefs are a very popular team. It’s unbelievable the way they have turned it around so quickly,” Esposito said. “I thought Keenum played a really good game. He might be the Texans’ quarterback of the future.”

The public gave some away on Kansas City, but got some back by riding Green Bay and San Francisco in afternoon blowouts.

Esposito called the day a “mixed bag” for the bettors and books. Underdogs went 7-6 ATS with six outright wins. One of the upsets, the New York Jets’ 30-27 overtime victory over New England, was a gut punch to the public.

The Buffalo Bills, bet from 8½- to 6-point ’dogs and around plus-250 on the money line, cashed for the wiseguys.

“They were pounding the money line and everything on the Bills,” Rood said. “That was an ugly game.”

Jacksonville is the runaway winner for the ugly title. As hideous 7-point home ’dogs, the Jaguars were put to sleep early in a 24-6 loss to San Diego, which was in a bad spot off a Monday win and traveling across the country for an early kickoff … blah, blah, blah.

In a classic pick-’em game, Chicago was bet to a 1-point favorite at Washington, which was a 1-point favorite for part of the week. There were eight lead changes, and Robert Griffin III led the Redskins to a wild 45-41 win.

I bet the Redskins, 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers, who snuck out a cover as 2½-point favorites in a 19-16 victory over Baltimore. I regrettably bet the Eagles and Jaguars. We all make mistakes, and some are dumber than others.

As for the Denver-Indianapolis game, it mostly lived up to the hype. In Manning’s homecoming, Andrew Luck was king, and two questionable calls spoiled what could have been a classic ending.

“It’s all Broncos,” Rood said of the wagering.

The Colts, underdogs of 6½ to 7 points, cashed in a 39-33 win. The buzz over the Broncos’ 16-0 prop has been killed.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at myoumans@reviewjournal.com 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.