Books get run over as favorites deliver


Early in the morning, Brian Urlacher rumbled down the sideline and returned an interception for a touchdown to put the Chicago Bears in the win column. It was over, and never mind that it was only the first quarter.

The runaway train was rolling toward the sports books, threatening to cause mass destruction, and Denzel Washington was not around to stop it. (That's an obscure reference to the forgettable movie "Unstoppable.")

Several hours later, sometime after 8 p.m., a last-minute field goal by the Atlanta Falcons made a lot of people happy and a lot of people unhappy, to paraphrase NBC commentator Al Michaels, who knows a major point-spread decision when he sees one.

"It's a disaster. It could be one of the worst Sundays ever," said LVH sports book director Jay Kornegay, who knows a train wreck when he sees one.

This is the storyline the bettors want to read: Bookmakers took a beating in Week 9 of the NFL season.

"It's all public money," Kornegay said. "In the morning games, I'm going to say we were 1-7. That created a deep hole for us. If we lose in the morning, we're not going to win for the day. It's damage control from that point."

I called a couple of other bookmakers and didn't get callbacks, so I can only presume they were in no mood to talk. It's hard to say exactly how much damage was done, but we definitely can say the betting public won.

The Bears got the train rolling, and Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay and Houston finished off the morning schedule. All six favorites won and covered, and four of them were short road favorites.

Bet from 3½ to 5 at closing time, the Bears led 28-2 in the first quarter and put Tennessee out of its misery, 51-20. Charles Tillman forced four fumbles, Jay Cutler connected with Brandon Marshall for three touchdown passes, and Chicago won its sixth straight game.

The Ravens, laying 3½ points at Cleveland, scored 11 points in the final 4½ minutes to win, 25-15. I thought Baltimore was a great bet, and it looked that way when it was 14-0, but Joe Flacco slept through the second and third quarters.

The Broncos, bet from 3½- to 5-point favorites at Cincinnati, fell behind early in the fourth quarter before Peyton Manning's two touchdown passes produced a 31-23 win and cover.

The Lions, who closed as 6-point favorites after the line opened at 3½, made it look too easy in a 31-14 victory at Jacksonville. Those four decisions put the books in a hole, and the Packers and Texans covered as double-digit favorites to dig a deeper hole.

Indianapolis' minor upset of Miami was a split decision that attracted little wagering. So the books' lone clear-cut winner of the morning came courtesy of Cam Newton and the underdog Carolina Panthers in a 21-13 win at Washington.

In the three afternoon games, we'll say the books went 1-2, which means bettors cashed with Seattle as a 4½-point favorite and Tampa Bay as a 1-point underdog.

The Pittsburgh-New York Giants game was bet heavily both ways, so Kornegay said the Steelers' 24-20 victory as 3½-point 'dogs was "not a major decision." The line was bet up from 3, but the Giants were clearly the wrong side.

Despite an array of mistakes, the Steelers dominated play and outgained the Giants, 349-182. Ben Roethlisberger was as good as Eli Manning was bad. I'll repeat what was becoming evident two weeks ago - too many bettors wrote off Pittsburgh too soon.

So with 11 games down and one to go, favorites were 7-4 against the spread, and the books were unofficially 2-9 on the bottom line.

"I'm pretty confident every book is going to need the Cowboys," Kornegay said before the nightcap of the bookmakers' nightmare Sunday.

Dallas, a 4-point underdog at Atlanta, drew most of the so-called sharp money, and the public favored Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Missed tackles, defensive penalties and a Tony Romo passing show that arrived too late doomed the clumsy Cowboys.

Stopped short of a first down that would have allowed them to run out the clock, the Falcons covered 19-13 on Matt Bryant's 32-yard field goal with 17 seconds to go. And as Michaels said, it was a field goal that made a lot of people happy and a lot of people unhappy.

The bookmakers win more than their fair share, so after this "disaster," Kornegay said he and his colleagues were not asking for sympathy they won't get anyway.

As for the bettors, we're riding an unstoppable train, at least for one week.

Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans 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, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

NFL WEEK 10 ODDS
Today
Favorite     Underdog
NEW ORLEANS 3 52 Philadelphia
Thursday
Indianapolis 3 42 1/2 JACKSONVILLE
Sunday
NEW ENGLAND 11 1/2 51 Buffalo
New York Giants 4 1/2 48 1/2 CINCINNATI
TAMPA BAY 3 48 San Diego
Denver 4 1/2 48 CAROLINA
MIAMI 6 44 1/2 Tennessee
BALTIMORE 7 46 Oakland
Atlanta 2 1/2 54 NEW ORLEANS
Detroit 1 1/2 47 MINNESOTA
SEATTLE 6 1/2 38 1/2 New York Jets
PHILADELPHIA 2 46 Dallas
SAN FRANCISCO 11 1/2 38 1/2 St. Louis
CHICAGO 1 1/2 42 1/2 Houston
Monday, Nov. 12
PITTSBURGH 12 1/2 43 Kansas City
 

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