With a chance to throw crushing blows to Las Vegas sports books the past two weeks, Eli Manning instead threw interceptions, and his New York Giants are now an enemy of the betting public.
So reliable for so long and almost always money on the road, the Giants played dead again Sunday.
“The biggest surprise of the day was the Giants,” MGM Mirage sports book director Jay Rood said, alluding to the Giants’ surprisingly lame effort in a 40-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
A week ago, Las Vegas books absorbed a beating of historical proportions, losing an estimated $8 million on NFL games. The Giants saved the books millions more by getting upset by Arizona in a game that was very important to many people.
The sports books bounced back with a winning Week 8 — you figured that was coming — and another Giants disappointment was the betting public’s most significant loss.
The Eagles opened as 21/2-point home favorites. Money drove the line five points the other way, with the Giants closing as 21/2-point favorites. It was the wrong move.
Manning was intercepted twice, and New York’s defense barely put up a fight while allowing the unpredictable Donovan McNabb to pass for three touchdowns. The Eagles led 30-7 at halftime, the game over before I could find a shoe to throw at the TV.
The Giants have lost three straight, but previous to this ugly streak they were widely considered the league’s best team.
“Another poor performance and the Giants are going to be relegated to a middle-of-the-pack team that’s going to struggle to make the playoffs,” Rood said.
After the favorites rolled in Week 7, several underdogs showed up Sunday, posting a 7-5 mark against the spread. Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, St. Louis and Philadelphia won outright, restoring some order to the NFL’s recent chaos.
“It was a good day. Overall, back to normal,” Rood said. “We did what we’re supposed to do by grinding out our little piece. I don’t think too many sports book directors are running their hands through their hair like last week.”
The Cleveland Browns played their role of lousy underdogs, losing 30-6 to the Chicago Bears. But that result barely hurt the books. Rood said there was late wagering on the Browns, who closed as 11-point ‘dogs after the line sat at 13 all week.
Even the Oakland Raiders, 16-point underdogs at San Diego, hung tough in a 24-16 loss to the Chargers.
Peyton Manning was held without a touchdown pass as Indianapolis, 7-0 straight up and 5-2 against the spread, failed to cover for the first time since Week 1 in an 18-14 victory over San Francisco. The public bet the Colts as 13-point favorites.
Brett Favre’s triumphant return to Green Bay attracted the most attention, and the game drew heavy two-way action. Rood said there was more public money on the Vikings, with several sharp bettors on the Packers.
The Vikings, who closed as 31/2-point underdogs, jumped up 24-3 and held off an Aaron Rodgers-led rally to win 38-26 as the score flew over the total of 47. Favre was nearly flawless, passing for 244 yards and four touchdowns.
Baltimore did deal the books a minor blow by beating Denver, 30-7. The Ravens, off three straight losses before a bye week, closed as 41/2-point favorites. The Broncos (6-1) had been perfect against the spread.
“You knew Denver would drop one sooner or later, so that wasn’t too unexpected,” Rood said. “There’s no shame in losing on the road.”
The NFC East race is up for grabs, with Dallas and Philadelphia surging while the Giants are slumping
The Cowboys, 10-point home favorites in a 38-17 blowout of Seattle, go to Philadelphia in Week 9. The Eagles opened as 4-point favorites.
As for the Giants, weaknesses in their pass defense have been exposed, as has the fragile nature of their quarterback. Eli Manning plays like his older brother one week and a sleepy hillbilly the next.
The Giants, who started 5-0 by whipping four of the NFL’s worst teams, are 31/2-point home favorites over the Chargers. It’s time for Manning to wake up.
Rood called Sunday “pretty quiet” for the books, and it helped that the Giants went down with a whimper.
Sports betting reporter and columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at email@example.com or 702-387-2907.