Instead of Aaron Rodgers airing it out, it was an error-filled night for the Green Bay Packers. The NFL season opened with a dud, just like last season ended.
But for those betting on the Seattle Seahawks — and it’s a big mistake to bet against them — easy money comes with no complaints.
“I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot of Seattle money every week,” said Nick Bogdanovich, the William Hill sports book director.
Bookmakers were seeing money on both sides Thursday, but the favorite was the sharp side.
At this point, Evel Knievel would be hesitant to jump on the side opposite the Seahawks.
Russell Wilson passed for two touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch ran for two more scores, and Seattle put a lopsided 36-16 beating on the Packers, who closed as 5-point underdogs.
“It’s almost like a Super Bowl game,” Mirage sports book manager Jeff Stoneback said, irony unintended as he spoke before kickoff.
In February, the Seahawks clinched their Super Bowl blowout early in the third quarter, if not earlier. This time, they put the game away early in the fourth quarter.
The books needed the favorite to win but not cover, similar to a Super Bowl scenario in which most money-line wagers show up on the ’dog. The books also needed the score to fall under the total of 47½.
Seattle won, covered and sent the game over the total on Wilson’s 15-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 2:31 remaining.
So the result was not ideal for bookmakers, who do realize they will be routinely rooting against Seahawks covers.
But in the season opener, there was plenty of support for the Packers, because they are a public team, and getting points with a quarterback as great as Rodgers probably seemed like a good idea at the time.
“We are very balanced on the game,” Stoneback said. “It’s amazing, both the money and the ticket count are about exactly even. I see a lot of Packers jerseys out there.”
I did not bet the ’dog, for the record. But don’t trash those jerseys, because Green Bay will bounce back. Rodgers was working with an inexperienced center and a leaky offensive line against the league’s best defense on the league’s toughest home field.
“It’s a joke how good they are at home,” Bogdanovich said, referencing the fact the Seahawks are 19-2 straight up and 16-5 ATS in their past 21 home games under coach Pete Carroll.
Late in the first half, Rodgers threw a pass away when he could have run for a key first down. He took three sacks, one resulting in a safety. The Packers botched a fourth-down try near midfield when they should have punted.
It was a night of mistakes. It was not their night.
There is a theory among some handicappers that this will be a big year for underdogs in the NFL. Last year, favorites ruled to the tune of a 129-111-8 record against the spread, excluding eight pick-em games.
Underdogs held the edge the previous five years (130-116 in 2012, 128-116 in 2011, 129-116 in 2010, 127-120 in 2009 and 122-120 in 2008), according to records kept by handicapper Andy Iskoe (TheLogicalApproach.com).
In 2005, NFL favorites went 142-104 (57.7 percent), but there was a huge reversal in 2006 as favorites went just 106-140 (43.1 percent).
“If 2005 and 2006 is a guide, we might expect 2014 to be a big year for ’dogs, but this is a different betting and linesmaking environment, and the markets, as a whole, behave much differently than in 2005-2006,” Iskoe said.
“So we might not see as big a correction as we did then. Or we might see a bigger correction toward ’dogs, as the public enjoyed success with favorites in 2013 and there may be more ‘squares’ in the markets today who will, at least early in the season, remember the success they had betting chalk last season.”
Time will tell, but for now, the so-called squares laying points with the Seahawks feel razor sharp.
■ CLOSING NUMBERS — Urban Meyer raised his arms in celebration as the clock expired. The Ohio State coach was celebrating a 34-17 victory over Navy, but you can bet he also wanted the Buckeyes to cover as double-digit favorites.
Good coaches win, and great coaches know the importance of winning and covering.
Navy plus-16½ was my bad beat of last week, when I went 3-3 on the college football plays posted here. Six more plays for Saturday (home team in CAPS):
PURDUE (-3) over Central Michigan; STANFORD (-2½) over Southern California; Michigan State-OREGON (Over 56); Michigan (+4) over NOTRE DAME; Brigham Young (-1) over TEXAS; HAWAII (+10½) over Oregon State.
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.