Patriots suffer first defeat — against spread

A fourth-quarter lead slipped from Peyton Manning’s hands, and the Indianapolis Colts fell for the first time this season. But all was not lost for those holding betting tickets on the Colts.

At least the defending Super Bowl champions ruined the New England Patriots’ perfect record against the spread.

With the NFL’s only undefeated teams meeting, big crowds turned out on a busy Sunday for the sports books. The Patriots pulled out a 24-20 victory, but the Colts cashed at the wagering windows as 51/2-point home underdogs.

“As far as I can remember, it was the biggest handle we’ve had on a regular-season game,” MGM Mirage sports book director Robert Walker said. “It was a good game for us.”

Walker said betting tickets on New England were written at a 2-to-1 ratio, and the result — the favorite winning but not covering — was close to the best-case scenario partly because the books did not have to pay out Indianapolis money-line bets at plus-190.

The books also were helped by the game going under 57, as Walker said a majority of parlays were linked to the score going over the total.

The matchup was hyped almost like a Super Bowl, and Walker said the betting handle was about equal to a conference championship game.

“We wrote a ton of tickets,” Walker said. “We took some five-figure bets, but we didn’t take the six-figure bets we might normally get.”

The Patriots, 9-0 straight up and 8-1 against the spread, appeared untouchable while winning all of their previous eight games by at least 17 points.

But the Colts led 13-7 at halftime and 20-10 midway through the fourth quarter. New England’s Tom Brady passed for three touchdowns, including two late in the fourth quarter.

Manning lost a fumble late, and the Patriots were in scoring range. But with Indianapolis out of timeouts, New England ran out the final two minutes on the clock.

The Patriots opened as 31/2-point favorites; the line closed as high as six at some books.

“I thought 31/2 was the right number,” Walker said. “I thought we could hang that number and leave it there all week. I was wrong, obviously. Within one hour, we were at five. I thought the Colts would win the game outright. A lot of money on the Colts showed up late. The professional (bettors) were on the Colts.”

New England, which has a bye in Week 10, seems to face two realistic roadblocks in its quest to finish undefeated. The Patriots host Pittsburgh on Dec. 9 and play at the New York Giants on Dec. 29.

“The Patriots have a legitimate chance to go 16-0,” Walker said. “They are going to be really big favorites the rest of the way out.”

Indianapolis, 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread, opened as a 3-point road favorite over San Diego in Week 10.

The Chargers helped the books Sunday by getting blown out 35-17 by the Minnesota Vikings, who were 7-point home underdogs.

The betting public regretted backing Kansas City and Washington. The Packers, 21/2-point road underdogs, notched a 33-22 win over the Chiefs. The Redskins, 31/2-point road favorites, needed overtime to beat the New York Jets 23-20.

The public was rewarded for supporting Cleveland, Dallas and Detroit.

The Cowboys, who drew heavy play as 31/2-point road favorites, wrapped up the day by routing Philadelphia 38-17.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2907.

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