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Sportsbooks ride upsets to another winning NFL Sunday

In the classic poker movie “Rounders,” Teddy KGB (John Malkovich) says in his thick Russian accent, “I feel so unsatisfied,” after losing a stack of cash to Mike McD (Matt Damon).

Packers backers can relate after going on a roller-coaster ride of emotions on NFL Sunday that ultimately left them and their wallets empty following a 34-31 overtime loss at the Colts.

Things looked good early, as Green Bay (+1½) took a 28-14 halftime lead. But Aaron Rodgers and Co. barely touched the ball in the second half, and Indianapolis went ahead 31-28.

When the Colts converted a fourth-and-4 with less than two minutes left, it appeared all but over and plenty of Packers tickets were probably tossed in the trash. But Green Bay bettors had to do some dumpster diving after Indianapolis punted the ball back to the Packers following three holding penalties and two incompletions by Philip Rivers.

One of the incompletions was initially ruled a fumble and touchdown return by Green Bay, but the play was reversed after a review.

Rodgers drove the Packers to the Colts’ 8 in the final seconds before settling for a tying field goal. Green Bay won the toss in overtime and was a -170 favorite on the live money line to win. But two plays later, Marquez Valdes-Scantling fumbled. Indy recovered and won on Rodrigo Blankenship’s 39-yard field goal.

“It was a huge game for our side of the counter. It was a big swing in the day,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “The public was all over the Packers in that game.”

Books win again

That was the type of day bettors had, as Las Vegas books notched their third big winning Sunday in the last four weeks.

“The first six or seven weeks went back and forth between the bettors and the books. But the last few weeks were not too good for the bettors,” MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said. “If it was one of our busier weeks, it probably would’ve been our best day of the year.

“It’s always a slower week right before Thanksgiving because a lot of people stay home for the holidays.”

Dog day afternoon

While the Colts were small favorites, the books largely cashed in on five outright upsets by underdogs:

— Tennessee Titans (+6, 30-24 in overtime over Baltimore Ravens)

— Carolina Panthers (+3, 20-0 over Detroit Lions)

— Houston Texans (+2½, 27-20 over New England Patriots)

— Denver Broncos (+4, 20-13 over Miami Dolphins)

— Dallas Cowboys (+7, 31-28 over Minnesota Vikings)

The Broncos and Texans were two of the biggest decisions for the books. Miami (6-4) had its five-game winning streak snapped, and New England (4-6) will finish with at least six losses for the first time since 2009.

“The Bills (7-3) won on their bye week, as all three teams in their division lost,” Esposito said.

The New York Jets (+10) covered in a 34-28 loss at the Chargers but fell to 0-10.

“The Jets’ only chance to get a win might be against the Patriots,” Stoneback said.

Public plays

The Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) delivered the biggest cover for the betting public, cruising to a 27-3 victory at the Jacksonville Jaguars as 10½-point favorites.

The Cleveland Browns dealt BetMGM its biggest loss, covering as 2½-point favorites and improving to 7-3 in a 22-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

BetMGM took straight bets of $250,000 and $105,000 on Cleveland.

“The only real loser we had on the day was the Browns,” Stoneback said.

There were only losers among the consensus top five picks in the Circa Sports Million II and Westgate SuperContest, as each went 0-5.

There were four common plays on the Packers, Dolphins, Falcons (+4½, 24-9 loss at Saints) and Chiefs, who closed as 8-point favorites over the Raiders but never led by more than four points in a 35-31 win.

Just cover, baby

Las Vegas took a 31-28 lead in the back-and-forth shootout on Derek Carr’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with 1:43 left. But Kansas City answered when Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for a 22-yard TD with 28 seconds left.

Score one for recreational bettors, as the game flew over the total of 56½ points. But the books won on the game; money was on the Chiefs by a 4-1 margin at BetMGM.

“Only once this year have we rooted against the Raiders, and that was the only time they were a favorite at home last week against Denver,” Esposito said. “They’ve been an underdog in every home game this year.”

The Raiders dipped to 2-3 straight up at Allegiant Stadium but are 3-2 against the spread.

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

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