The NFL has long prided itself on the fact that any team can beat any other team on a given Sunday. But that no longer appears to be the case.
Taking the strike-shortened 1987 season out of the equation, this is reportedly the first time since the 1970s that two NFL teams have been favored by at least 21 points in the same week.
The Dallas Cowboys are 22½-point favorites over the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots are 22½-point favorites over the New York Jets.
“There clearly is a massive disparity in the league between the good and the bad teams,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “You can make a case that the Patriots and Cowboys are the best teams in their respective conferences, and they’re playing against two really bad teams. The Dolphins more so than the Jets.
“I think the public will continue to back (the Patriots and Cowboys) but will bet against the Dolphins in most cases. My guess is we’ll be big Dolphins and Jets fans this Sunday.”
History favors the underdogs. NFL favorites of 21 points or more are 11-22-3 against the spread, according to Esposito.
But it’s extremely hard to make a case for Miami, which lost its first two games to the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens by a combined score of 102-10. The 0-2 Jets are coming off a 23-3 home loss to the Cleveland Browns on Monday night, and third-string quarterback Luke Falk will make his first career start in New England.
William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich said his book will need the Dolphins and Jets in a big way.
“We’re buried on each side,” he said. “Every ticket, whether it’s a straight bet, teaser, money line or parlay, is something to the Patriots and the same with the Cowboys. They’ll be two huge decisions.”
Virtually all of the action is on the heavy favorites. A Caesars Entertainment bettor placed an $89,000 money-line Patriots-Cowboys parlay to win $4,000. Another Caesars bettor placed the same parlay for $1,000 to win $45.
A South Point bettor placed a $10,000 four-team parlay to win $110,000 on the Patriots (-23), Cowboys (-21½), Alabama (-38½) and Georgia (-14).
A CG Technology bettor placed a $10,000 straight bet on the Jets (+23). But sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso said CG was still lopsided on Patriots and Cowboys parlays and was surprised the wiseguys haven’t backed either underdog.
“It’s Thursday, and no sharp guy has taken either ’dog,” he said. “It’s a different league. It used to be you threw up 10½ or 11 points and they couldn’t wait to take it. Fourteen (points), forget about it. They kind of took a little bit of (Miami at plus) 18½ and 19 last week (against the Patriots). But even that wasn’t until Sunday.”
Amid allegations of tanking for a franchise quarterback such as Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft in Las Vegas, the Dolphins traded starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans before the season and on Monday dealt starting safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Second-year quarterback Josh Rosen will replace veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter against the Cowboys.
On the look-ahead line to Week 4 at the Westgate, Miami is a 16½-point road underdog to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Westgate also has made the Dolphins a 20,000-1 shot to win the Super Bowl.
“It’s not good. The NFL’s strength is parity, and this certainly isn’t parity,” Bogdanovich said.
Several books offer a prop on the Dolphins to go 0-16. The no is minus 550, and the yes is plus 400. CG Technology also posted an adjusted season win total for Miami of 1½ (Over -130).
“The Dolphins are bad, but at what point do they quit?” DiTommaso said.