The first Sunday of 2021 was the best NFL Sunday of the 2020 season for bettors.
Favorites won 14 of 16 games as gamblers cashed in on countless money-line parlays and teasers and dealt Las Vegas sportsbooks a rare losing day.
“It was the worst Sunday of the season,” Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “The general public had a heyday. They were cashing all day. The big culprits were parlays and money-line parlays, as every team that needed to win won (Sunday).”
The Raiders handed the Westgate its worst result in the final afternoon game. Derek Carr fired a strike to Darren Waller for a go-ahead 2-point conversion with 24 seconds left to lift Las Vegas to a 32-31 comeback win at Denver.
“The reason why the Raiders game was the worst result of the day was because it was the last game posted,” Kornegay said. “Everything was riding on that game, especially the money-line parlays. We needed the Broncos to hang on there.”
Washington, which closed -6½ after the line opened Philadelphia -1, capped the big day for bettors by beating the Eagles 20-14 on Sunday night.
“We’re already in the toilet,” Kornegay said before the game. “Washington will flush it.”
Las Vegas (8-8) eclipsed its season win total (7½) and snapped a string of three straight losing seasons.
“The Raiders winning at the end was one of the loudest eruptions in the book,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said.
Las Vegas (-3) was one of six favorites that won but didn’t cover. But the Raiders flew over the total (50½) for the fifth consecutive game and finished the season tied with Tennessee for the league’s best over-under record at 12-3-1.
The day started well for the books, which won all three big decisions in the morning games on the Giants (+1½, 23-19 over the Cowboys), Lions (+3, 37-35 loss to the Vikings) and Bills, who closed as 3-point home underdogs to the Dolphins in a 56-26 blowout.
“That game was nuts,” MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said. “We opened the Bills -3½ and closed the Dolphins -3½.”
The game was a must win for Miami to make the playoffs.
The biggest losers for the books were the Packers (-4½, 35-16 over the Bears) and the Saints (-6, 33-7 over the Panthers) in the afternoon.
“We had a really good morning and a really, really bad afternoon,” Stoneback said. “We went O-fer on big decisions in the afternoon.”
The only solid afternoon result for the books was the 49ers (+7) salvaging a backdoor cover against the Seahawks in a 26-23 loss.
Close to contest sweep
The wild finish ATS cost professional poker players David Baker and Mark Gregorich the $1 million first prize in the Circa Sports Million II contest.
Incredibly, the two, using the alias ODBMG2, entered Sunday with a half-point lead in the Circa Million and the Westgate SuperContest. They won the SuperContest for $435,623.20 and tied for second in the Circa for $200,000 when Seattle couldn’t hold onto what appeared to be a miracle cover.
The Seahawks trailed 16-12 with 2:20 left when Russell Wilson threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett for a 19-16 lead. Seattle got the ball back two plays later on a strip sack of C.J. Beathard and went ahead 26-16 with 1:49 left on an 8-yard TD run by Alex Collins.
But it wasn’t over. Beathard hit Jeff Wilson Jr. for a 3-yard TD pass with 23 seconds left to deal a brutal bad beat to Seahawks bettors and cause Baker and Gregorich to miss out on $800,000 in winnings.
DSR90 won Circa’s $1 million prize after going 4-1 — with winners on the Steelers +8½, Texans +7½, Buccaneers -7 and Ravens -12, and a loser on the Dolphins +1 — to finish 56-27-2 (67.5 percent).
In Circa Survivor, all 35 contestants who were still alive entering Week 17 survived and will split the $2.39 million prize pool for $68,285 apiece.
Here are the opening lines at the Westgate for Super Wild Card Weekend (home team in CAPS):
— BILLS (-6½) over Colts, 52½
— SEAHAWKS (-5) over Rams, 43
— Buccaneers (-6½) over WASHINGTON, 46½
— Ravens (-3½) over TITANS, 55
— SAINTS (-9½) over Bears, 48
— STEELERS (-3½) over Browns, 47
“The team to me that really has that kind of swagger and a lot of confidence right now is the Buffalo Bills,” Esposito said. “Kansas City comes in not covering in eight straight games. The Ravens are a dangerous team in the playoffs, too, but I really think the Bills are fast becoming a public team and are scary good in the AFC.”