It was a butt-kicking, the second one in seven days that involved the New England Patriots. And this time, there will be no mindless chatter from the critics about Tom Brady fading into retirement.
Revise the power ratings and retract the doomsday predictions for the Patriots. A knee-jerk reaction is the worst way to wager on the NFL, and too many paid for that lesson Sunday night.
If you were laying points with the Cincinnati Bengals at New England, make an appointment to see Dr. Phil. If he’s booked, see your neighborhood psychologist.
“Everyone loved Cincinnati,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “The public was all over the Bengals, and so were the sharps.”
It was not a wise move, and that is not written in hindsight, because I was on record for betting on the Patriots. Off a humiliating loss, in the home underdog role, against the overrated Bengals, this was the time to get on New England.
My mistake was taking a bad number at plus-1, but it didn’t matter. Bettors were cutting in line to get down on the Bengals, who closed as 2½- to 3-point favorites in a 43-17 loss.
The Patriots, blown out in Kansas City, were getting peppered with criticism all week. Brady and coach Bill Belichick responded with a strong statement. Brady came out firing on the first drive and finished by passing for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
“You knew you were probably going to get a maximum effort out of the Patriots after they were basically embarrassed last week,” said Jay Kornegay, Westgate Las Vegas sports book director.
If the Bengals were not the worst bet on the board, it was the New York Jets.
So there is good news to report. The betting public made a lot of right moves Sunday, and banking on San Diego was one. The Chargers, 7-point favorites, jumped all over the Jets in a 31-0 win.
“We had no shot in that game,” Rood said. “Everybody bet the Chargers.”
Banking on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos was another right move. The Broncos closed as 8½-point favorites and covered for the first time this season in a 41-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Manning passed for 479 yards and four touchdowns.
“We went 0-for-3 in the afternoon,” Kornegay said, “and the two biggest decisions of the day were the Broncos and Chargers.”
In the other afternoon game, the San Francisco 49ers won a 22-17 decision against the Chiefs, with the spread decision favoring the bettors. The Chiefs opened as 6 ½-point ’dogs, and the line closed at 5.
Including the lopsided win for Green Bay on Thursday, favorites are 8-4-2 ATS in Week 5. The second push came in Cleveland’s 29-28 comeback victory at Tennessee, with the Browns opening as ’dogs but closing as 1-point favorites.
The Titans led 28-3 late in the second quarter, but when quarterback Charlie Whitehurst trotted onto the field with a goofy ponytail hanging out of his helmet, there was a sense something bad was going to happen to Tennessee. What happened was the largest comeback by a road team in NFL history.
In another rarity, bettors were wise to side with the Buffalo Bills, who made a quarterback switch to Kyle Orton. Buffalo overcame a 14-0 deficit to win 17-14 on Dan Carpenter’s 58-yard field goal.
The Bills and Patriots were the only underdogs to win straight up, while Houston and Tampa Bay covered in overtime losses. The Buccaneers, getting 11½ points, fell 37-31 at New Orleans. The Texans, 5½-point ’dogs, went down 20-17 at Dallas.
I’ll admit when I’m wrong, and the Cowboys are making me look bad. I predicted a 6-10 season for Dallas, which is off to a 4-1 start because DeMarco Murray is leading the league in rushing and the defense is working magic tricks with smoke and mirrors.
St. Louis pulled off a miracle comeback to cover for some bettors. Philadelphia led 34-7 late in the third quarter before Austin Davis led the Rams to the game’s final three touchdowns. The Eagles escaped with a 34-28 win in a game featuring a mysterious line move. Sharp action on the Rams drove the spread from 7 to as low as 3½.
“It was just dropping like crazy,” Kornegay said. “Sometimes you just can’t explain the line move.”
Kornegay called it a break-even day. Rood called the day a loser, partly because MGM Resorts paid off two 12-team parlays each in the neighborhood of $60,000 (3,000-1 odds on a $20 bet).
“The handicappers had a pretty good day,” Rood said. “But we’ve had a pretty good season so far. We gave a little back. It’s the nature of the business. My windows will be open tomorrow.”
No one will be showing up to cash a ticket on the Bengals.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at email@example.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.