A couple of seconds after Tony Romo scrambled and fired the apparent winning touchdown pass, the Dallas Cowboys’ celebration was canceled. The NFL is a roller coaster of emotions that we as bettors buy tickets to ride every Sunday, from morning to night.
The fine line between agony and exhilaration can be a penalty flag, an official review or a team intentionally taking a safety.
Point-spread decisions and straight-up moneyline wagers often come down to one play or a close call.
A majority of the betting public rode the Cowboys and took a fall. A holding penalty nullified Romo’s throw and the clock expired on Dallas in its 13-7 loss to the Washington Redskins.
It was the last game on Sunday’s schedule, and it was a big decision that made the difference between “a good day and a break-even day,” said MGM Mirage sports book director Jay Rood.
Las Vegas books needed the Redskins to cover, and they did as 3½-point home underdogs. The outright upset also knocked out bettors who took the Cowboys at minus-200 on the moneyline, a much smaller but not insignificant factor.
In Week 1, favorites are 7-5-2 against the spread. The other small ‘dogs to win straight up were Houston, Pittsburgh and Seattle.
The Detroit Lions, 6½-point underdogs, also covered in a 19-14 loss to the Chicago Bears that was determined by a questionable call.
“It was a big first day for the book,” said M Resort sports book director Mike Colbert, who pointed to victories by the Redskins, Texans and Seahawks, who were 3-point home underdogs in a 31-6 blowout of San Francisco, as the highlights.
Peyton Manning passed for 433 yards and three touchdowns, and normally those type numbers would mean positive results for the Indianapolis Colts. But Manning was not the story.
“How about that kid for Houston?” Rood said. “The Colts defense looked like it aged very quickly. Anytime your older brother beats you up 15, 16 times, if you get the opportunity, you’re going to kick his teeth in.”
Arian Foster did the teeth kicking, rushing for 231 yards as the Texans rolled to a 34-24 victory over the defending AFC champions. The Colts came in 15-1 straight up in the series.
“We took some big bets on Houston, but a lot of people were seeing value with the Colts minus-1½,” Rood said. “The Colts going down was a big game.”
Similar to the Cowboys, the Lions were celebrating an apparent go-ahead touchdown in the last minute. But Calvin Johnson’s 25-yard catch was ruled incomplete after an official review and close study of the rulebook.
It sure appeared to be a catch and a touchdown.
The Buffalo Bills, 3-point underdogs, were backed up at the 1-yard line and took a safety with 1:32 remaining. The decision was dubious, and Bills bettors were stuck with a 15-10 setback to the Miami Dolphins.
Rood said Buffalo coach Chan Gailey might have “outsmarted himself” by surrendering the safety. Gailey is no genius to begin with, and when he was hired it was obvious the Bills would continue to go nowhere.
The betting public did not go away empty-handed, thanks in large part to Green Bay and Tennessee cashing tickets as favorites. The Packers built a 17-point lead and held off a Michael Vick-led rally to win 27-20 at Philadelphia.
“The day was about the Packers. We were having a really good day until we had to post that score,” Rood said. “Every parlay flowed through the Packers and the Dolphins. We had some sharp plays on the Eagles, but the public money sort of outweighed that.”
Just as I suspected, the Oakland Raiders are still awful, and they proved it in a 38-13 loss to the Titans, who were 6½-point favorites. Chris Johnson ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cincinnati Bengals also were dead ‘dogs, falling behind 24-0 in a 38-24 loss to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The NFL’s opening act comes to a close today. The New York Jets host Baltimore, and Kansas City hosts San Diego. The Ravens (plus-2½) and Chiefs (plus-4½) could be live ‘dogs.
n BOTTOM LINES — The Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest, which required a $1,500 entry fee, enrolled 345 contestants. The South Point’s $2,500-entry fee NFL contest has 73 entrants.
The M Resort drew seven contestants for the $100,000-entry fee Cantor High Stakes Football Contest. The winner earns 70 percent, or $490,000, of the prize pool.
Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He also co-hosts the “Las Vegas Betting Line” weeknights at midnight on KDWN-AM (720) and kdwn.com.