Betting public bounces back as NFL favorites carry the day

In an era when professional sports bettors employ analytics and complex mathematical models to make their picks against the spread, there are still those who succeed using slightly less sophisticated techniques.

“I have a guy that throws dice each week for his picks and he’s 19-6,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said.

Besides the guy with the hot dice, much of the betting public, myself included, has crapped out in this unpredictable NFL season as underdogs went 54-35-1 ATS (60.6 percent) through the first six weeks.

“It’s been a very difficult NFL season to handicap. There’s no rhyme or reason week in and week out,” Kornegay said. “There’s a lot of parity and there’s been no separation between the elite teams. You just never know what you’re going to get.”

Public strikes back

After a Week 6 dominated by underdogs and Las Vegas sports books, the betting public bounced back a bit in Week 7, when Sunday favorites went 8-3-2 ATS.

The Patriots, Cowboys and Steelers all covered as favorites as a semblance of normalcy returned to the NFL.

“As good as the books did the last few weeks with the underdogs, the players exacted a little bit of revenge today with parlays on the favorites,” Gaughan Gaming sports book director and VSiN host Vinnie Magliulo said.

The Vikings, Rams, Jaguars, Seahawks and Saints also covered as favorites.

Books win on Bears, Chargers

The best decisions for the books — and worst results for the masses — were the Bears beating the Panthers 17-3 as 3-point underdogs and the Chargers blanking the Broncos 21-0 as a 1-point underdog.

Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had only four completions (in seven attempts). But the Bears’ defense had five sacks and two touchdowns. Eddie Jackson had a 75-yard fumble recovery return TD and a 76-yard interception return TD.

Cam Newton threw a pair of picks and made another questionable hat choice for his postgame news conference. Carolina has lost two straight following a 4-1 start.

“A team that’s really confusing is the Panthers,” Magliulo said.

Philip Rivers threw two TDs and the Chargers forced three turnovers in dealing Denver its first shutout loss in 25 years. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian threw his fifth interception in four games and John Elway and Peyton Manning aren’t walking through that door.

“Anytime you have a good defense but not a good quarterback, after a while the defense is going to give up,” TI sports book director Tony Nevill said. “They figure after three downs they’re going to be back on the field.”

Ugly games

Nevill said it was a great day for the players at the TI, which lost big when Minnesota covered the 5-point spread in a 24-16 win over Baltimore that wasn’t as close as it appeared. The Ravens scored their only TD with no time remaining.

“They crushed us pretty good on that one,” Nevill said. “The Ravens looked anemic. Joe Flacco looked like he didn’t have a clue out there.

“There was a bunch of crummy games.”

Many bettors pushed in Buffalo’s 30-27 win over Tampa Bay and Miami’s 31-28 win over the Jets.

The Titans outlasted the Browns in an ugly 12-9 overtime win, but they failed to cover the 6-point spread. Tennessee was stopped on fourth-and-goal at the 1 in regulation and couldn’t score a TD against Cleveland, which fell to 0-7 but snapped a five-game ATS losing streak.

Saints step up

New Orleans closed as a 4-point favorite over Green Bay after the line moved by as many as 13 points following Aaron Rodgers’ injury. The Saints covered when Drew Brees scored on a 1-yard TD sneak with 4:55 left for the final 26-17 margin.

New Orleans, which has won four straight following an 0-2 start, is suddenly in the thick of the NFC race, along with the Vikings (5-2), Rams (5-2) and Eagles (5-1).

“It’s so wide open. Keep an eye on this Saints team. They’re a dangerous team. The Saints could be a bit of a surprise,” Magliulo said before Sunday night’s Super Bowl LI rematch in New England. “But on the eve of Halloween, this Jekyll-and-Hyde league is good for business.”

Fog Bowl II

The Jekyll-and-Hyde theme continued in Sunday’s nightcap. The books needed the Patriots — who closed between a 2½- and 3-point favorite over the Falcons — and under 57.

In a thick fog, New England’s previously porous defense allowed a season-low seven points in a 23-7 win that put the Pats (5-2) back in the thick of the AFC race alongside the Steelers (5-2) and Chiefs (5-2).

But that is certainly subject to change. Start blowing on those dice.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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