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Sportsbooks nail Lions-Vikings line, win big on underdog day in NFL

For the second time in four weeks, sportsbooks posted a line on a Vikings game that seemed off to some bettors. But, once again, oddsmakers were spot on.

Three weeks after Dallas closed as a 2-point favorite at 8-1 Minnesota and rolled to a 40-3 win, the 5-7 Lions closed as 1½-point home favorites over the 10-2 Vikings.

Detroit never trailed in a 34-23 victory. Bettors were all over the Lions at Station Casinos and the Westgate SuperBook in their biggest Sunday win.

“Everybody loved the Lions,” SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “It was pretty interesting to hear discussions about a team that has a losing record being favored over a team that was 10-2. But they bet the Lions.

“All the people that were bringing up the records certainly didn’t show up with their money. The majority of the tickets were on the Lions, and we took a couple of big plays from house players on the Lions.”

It was a different story at Caesars Sportsbook, where bettors backed the Vikings. Gamblers who took Minnesota in teasers were dealt a bad beat when Detroit kicked a 48-yard field goal with 17 seconds left.

“A lot of people couldn’t fathom the Vikings, with their record, being underdogs to the Lions, with their record,” Caesars assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “A lot of people got hurt on that game. A lot of people teased the Vikings up.”

Minnesota is now 10-3 with a -1 point differential.

“They’re the worst 10-win team of all time,” Caesars vice president of trading Craig Mucklow said.

Purdy, Purdy, Purdy good

Bettors also won big on the 49ers (-3½), who crushed the Buccaneers 35-7 as Brock Purdy, the final pick in this year’s draft, accounted for three TDs and became the first quarterback to beat Tom Brady in his first start.

Tampa Bay fell to 6-7, which still leads the sorry NFC South, and is the NFL’s worst team ATS at 3-9-1.

“The Bucs are not a good football team,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “They’re still not a lock to win the NFC South. They’re letting Atlanta and Carolina hang around.”

Books win again

Books enjoyed a solid winning day overall as underdogs went 7-4 ATS with four outright wins by the Panthers (+3½, beat Seahawks 30-24), Jaguars (+3½, beat Titans 36-22), Ravens (+1½, beat Steelers 16-14) and Chargers (+3½, beat Dolphins 23-17).

Bettors cashed on the Bengals (-4½, beat Browns 23-10). But they backed several favorites that won but didn’t cover, including the Cowboys (-17½, beat Texans 27-23), Bills (-9½, beat Jets 20-12) and Chiefs (-8½, beat Broncos 34-28).

Buffalo led 20-7 midway through the fourth quarter before New York rallied for the dreaded backdoor cover with a safety with 7:30 left on a blocked punt and a 26-yard field goal with 1:18 to go.

Kansas City led 27-0 in the first half before Denver exploded for three straight TDs, two after interceptions thrown by Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs, leading 34-28, were in field goal range with 5:49 left when Mahomes threw his third pick and again with 1:14 to go when he took a knee to run out the clock.

“We thought we were paying out when the Chiefs got to 13 points,” Mucklow said. “We didn’t think Denver would score. It normally takes them four or five weeks to score that many points.”

Dallas, the biggest favorite of the season, trailed throughout the second half until Dak Prescott engineered a 98-yard TD drive capped by Ezekiel Elliott’s 2-yard rush with 41 seconds left.

The late score let Caesars avoid a massive loss on money-line bets on Houston that would’ve paid 11-1.

“Houston would’ve been huge on the money line for the betting public,” Mucklow said. “At 11-1, it adds up pretty quickly. Every decision we have is seven figures now. It’s just how bad a seven figure it is.”

Giant loss

Bettors also got beat up by the Giants, who were whipped 48-22 by the Eagles as 7½-point underdogs.

“Surprisingly, we needed the Eagles,” Kornegay said. “We took in a lot of New York money.”

Buffalo remains the Super Bowl favorite. But for Esposito’s money, Philadelphia (12-1) is the team to beat.

“I’m starting to become a believer in ‘Fly, Eagles Fly.’ I’m not sure they shouldn’t be the Super Bowl favorite right now,” he said. “They can run, they play defense, they’ve got great wideouts, and the quarterback (Jalen Hurts), to me, right now is the MVP.”

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

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