It was a trip back in time, and something we’ve seen many times. Tony Romo drove the Dallas Cowboys tantalizingly close to the playoffs, only to go into self-destruction mode and swerve off the road.
This is comical, except for those who bet on or root for the Cowboys. Romo repeats the same big-game performances again and again to the point he has become the NFL’s version of Bill Murray, the TV meteorologist in “Groundhog Day.”
But it’s too easy to pin the blame of a loss on the quarterback, so I won’t pick on Romo too much – the Washington Redskins already took care of that.
“How many picks did Romo throw?” LVH sports book director Jay Kornegay asked.
The answer was three, and the last one essentially ended another mediocre Cowboys season Sunday night, when the Redskins won and covered, 28-18, and took the NFC East title.
Of the 16 games on the Week 17 schedule, Dallas-Washington drew the largest wagering handle. The betting action was basically split, and the eventual decision was pretty predictable. The stage was set for Romo to play the hero, and he blew it once again.
The Redskins covered the 3-point line on Alfred Morris’ 1-yard touchdown run with 1:09 remaining, a clinching score set up by Romo’s third interception, and the four-month regular season was in the books.
“It was our best day in 12 weeks, since the first week of October,” Kornegay said. “We got some really good mixed results and won a majority of the key games.”
Washington was one of seven favorites to cover. Eight underdogs, including Indianapolis and Minnesota, each of which recorded important outright wins, got the money. We’ll call Baltimore-Cincinnati a push. That’s the definition of mixed results.
The books benefited from a pair of short favorites, Chicago and Green Bay, and two bigger favorites, Houston and Seattle, failing to cover.
The Bears, laying 3 points, blew most of a 20-3 lead before beating Detroit, 26-24. Chicago missed the playoffs at 10-6, but did go over its season win total of nine.
In a win-and-in scenario, Adrian Peterson carried the Vikings, 3½-point ‘dogs, to a 37-34 victory over the Packers and into the postseason. Peterson rushed for 199 yards and a touchdown, and he’ll need to do it again. A first-round rematch is set for Saturday, and Green Bay is a 7½-point home favorite over Minnesota.
The Texans threw away a first-round bye in a 28-16 loss at Indianapolis, which rode the emotional return of coach Chuck Pagano to an easy cover as a 6½-point home underdog.
“The biggest bets were definitely on the Texans, and we took some early money on the Texans,” Kornegay said. “I would say the public was kind of split on it, so that was another good game for us.”
Going into the weekend, I considered the Texans the biggest square bet on the board, and that was right. I was wrong to think the Philadelphia Eagles might show up in Andy Reid’s last game as coach, and the New York Giants finally showed up – a couple of weeks too late – to put a 42-7 beating on the Eagles.
The Bengals, 2½-point favorites early in the week, were laying 6 to 6½ at closing time and beat the Ravens, 23-17.
The day’s bad beat arrived late. Up 24-7 in the fourth quarter, San Diego allowed Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor to run and throw for touchdowns in the final eight minutes. The Raiders covered the 8½-point line in a 24-21 loss, and that’s how the Norv Turner era finally ended for the Chargers.
San Francisco and Seattle did not cover as double-digit favorites, but Denver and New England did. The Broncos, laying 17, crushed Kansas City 38-3 to push the total of 41.
“The Broncos game wasn’t that bad for us,” Kornegay said. “A lot of people look at that number and say, ‘I’ll stay away from that one.’ “
Peyton Manning, who has become the most popular choice of the betting public, led Denver to its 11th straight win and the top seed in the AFC, where Tom Brady and the Patriots are No. 2. The LVH posted Denver and New England as 5-2 co-favorites to win the Super Bowl. Atlanta and San Francisco are each at 6-1 odds out of the NFC.
“If the Patriots play the Broncos for the AFC championship, I can only imagine all the hype surrounding that game,” Kornegay said. “Of the top four teams, any one could win it all. There’s a little gap after that, but I don’t think it’s a gigantic gap. It’s not going to be surprising to see a team become this year’s version of the Giants and get hot.”
The Cowboys won’t be that team, and that’s no surprise. On a cold night in Washington, Romo repeated history by losing another big game.
Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans 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, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.