It didn’t take a miracle Sunday to beat the Saints. All Tampa Bay needed was a little FitzMagic.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, aka The Amish Rifle, threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for a score as the Buccaneers stunned New Orleans — and countless bettors — 48-40 in the biggest upset of the opening NFL Sunday.
Tampa Bay, which was a 10-point underdog without suspended starting quarterback Jameis Winston, killed every straight bet, parlay and teaser on the Saints.
“That was a monster game. It made the day,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “I was shocked. If you start the season as a 10-point favorite at home, you’ve got to take care of business.”
New Orleans was playing its first meaningful game since losing to the Vikings in the playoffs on the “Minneapolis Miracle.”
“Maybe they’re still hung over from that fluky play,” Bogdanovich said. “I don’t know but that was a horrific performance.”
The Saints gave their many backers in Mississippi a rude welcome to the world of legal sports betting as William Hill, Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment sports books all reported wins on the game at their books there.
“We’re really starting to see some regional bias on the Saints,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “We already had some of that on Philadelphia and the Giants in New Jersey.”
Said Boyd Gaming sports book director Bob Scucci: “That was pretty much the whole day down there. And they doubled up on the Saints when they were down at the half and lost that as well.”
Bettors won big on the Ravens, Panthers and Bengals. Baltimore, which closed as an 8-point favorite over Buffalo, crushed the Bills 47-3 in Boyd Gaming’s biggest decision.
“The line was 4½ a couple months ago and we went as high as 9 on the game,” Scucci said. “That’s a pretty big move.
“A lot of the moves won. The only move that lost was New Orleans (which opened at 7 and closed at 10).”
A William Hill bettor placed a $100,000 parlay on the Ravens and Rams (as 4-point favorites over the Raiders on Monday night).
Carolina cruised to a cover as 3-point favorites over the Cowboys in a 16-8 win. An MGM Resorts bettor easily cashed his six-figure wager on Panthers-Cowboys under 42, but lost a six-figure bet on the Bears-Packers under, which closed at 45.
Aaron Rodgers was carted off the field in the first half with a knee injury and Chicago led 17-0 at halftime. But Rodgers returned in the second half to lead Green Bay — a 7-point favorite — to a 24-23 win that went over the closing total but under the opening number of 48½.
Hard knocks for Steelers bettors
Another MGM Resorts bettor won a six-figure wager on the Browns when they erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to the Steelers before settling for a 21-21 tie in overtime (money-line bets on both teams are considered a push and will be refunded).
Pittsburgh, which closed as a 3½-point favorite after the line opened at 7, resembled Cleveland’s 0-16 team from last season at times. The Steelers committed six turnovers, including a fumble by James Conner deep in his own territory that set up Carlos Hyde’s 1-yard TD run to make it 21-14 with 7:32 left.
The Browns also got a strip-sack of Ben Roethlisberger late in OT to set up a 43-yard field goal try by Zane Gonzalez. The kick was blocked by T.J. Watt, but the result was a victory for the sharp bettors who backed the Browns.
“That was one of our bad games, the Steelers giving it up late, because the steam was definitely on the Browns,” Rood said. “The Steelers looked like they switched uniforms right there.”
Incredibly, Cleveland snapped its 17-game losing streak but still hasn’t won since 2016.
“They refuse to win,” Bogdanovich said. “But Cleveland has definitely improved. There’s no doubt about that.”
Sharps and the betting public both backed the Houston Texans in a big way as 6½-point underdogs at New England. But some things never change. Tom Brady threw for three scores and the Patriots covered the number in a 27-20 victory.