Las Vegas wins as popular NFL teams underperform

Dallas' Tony Pollard is unable to catch a pass while covered by New England's Jamie Collins Sr. (58) and Dont'a Hightower (54).
Dallas’ Tony Pollard is unable to catch a pass while covered by New England’s Jamie Collins Sr. (58) and Dont’a Hightower (54).
(Billie Weiss / Getty Images)

A week after losing to the public, the sports books bounced back with a winning NFL Week 12, because of the failure of two popular teams: New England did not cover in the marquee Sunday afternoon game against Dallas and San Francisco defeated Green Bay at night.

Sportsbooks are used to sweating the Sunday and Monday prime-time games every week because of the swings they can bring to the bottom line, but the big decisions started early this weekend.

The books got off to a fast start in the 10 a.m. PT kickoffs as the New York Jets jumped out to a 13-3 halftime lead over Oakland and then added three touchdowns in the third quarter to leave no doubt in a 34-3 upset as 3.5-point home underdogs.

“The Jets win was enormous, probably the biggest 10 a.m. decision of the season,” said Jeff Davis, director of trading for the Caesars Palace network of books. “We really liked the Jets and someone bet Raiders big early. The Jets aren’t bad. I’m not sure the market has caught up to it yet as they kept betting the Raiders at -3.5 and we resisted going to -4.”


The books also won with Cleveland routing Miami, 41-24, as 10.5-point favorites; Buffalo dominating Denver, 20-3, as four-point home favorites and Washington defeating Detroit, 19-16, as four-point home underdogs.

But it wasn’t all gravy for the books. Seattle went off as a 1.5-point road favorite at Philadelphia after opening as high as 2.5-point, so the vast majority of the money was on the Seahawks and most bettors rejoiced in their 17-9 win. The books were also on the wrong side of Tampa Bay’s 35-22 upset of Atlanta as the Buccaneers were bet from +5 down to +3.5 by kickoff.

The books were in pretty good shape heading into the late afternoon games, though Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said the NFL’s schedule makers don’t do bookmakers any favors with the unbalanced schedule of nine early games and two afternoon games. He said overall handle for the day was down, with bettors only having the Jacksonville-Tennessee game opposite the Cowboys-Patriots extravaganza.


Though it ended up as a winner for the SuperBook, Murray questioned the decision-making of Dallas coach Jason Garrett who, while trailing by a touchdown, elected to have Brett Maher kick a 28-yard field-goal on fourth-and-seven from the Patriots’ 11-yard line with just 6 minutes 4 seconds left in the game. The Patriots held on for the 13-9 victory, though the Cowboys covered as 5.5-point road underdogs.

“We actually needed New England [to cover],” Davis said. “If the Patriots hadn’t gotten that first down late, they would have kicked the field goal. That was our only loser.”

Caesars and most books got healthy with the 49ers’ 37-8 rout in the nightcap. The 49ers covered after closing as three-point home favorites and staying under the betting total of 48 points.

“San Francisco and the Under was a monster,” Davis said. “There was so much money on the Over and the Packers’ money line. The night game was incredible for us.”


Dave Tuley writes for