NFL Inception: ‘Dog Day Afternoon (And Evening)
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | September 28, 2012
Underdogs ruled Week 3, pushing the handle in the Bovada Sportsbook’s favor.
Before we get started on the top bets at Bovada let’s talk about the giant, incompetent elephant in the room, Monday Night Football and the replacement referees.
For those who didn’t watch Twitter explode Monday night, a controversial and incorrect touchdown call by the replacement refs handed the Seattle Seahawks (a +3.5 homedog) a 14-12 win over the Green Bay Packers. According to ESPN.com there was an estimated $150 million lost by bettors on Monday night in sportsbooks around the globe (we’re unsure if the stat includes online ‘books); a couple million flat screen TVs probably went down too. Just in case you’re new to betting rules, any sportsbook has to adhere to the final score, no matter how incompetent it may be. Roger Goodell better stay indoors for a while.
Two things bettors need to learn from this going forward: One, and we know you’ll grit your teeth when you hear it, the Monday Night Football homedog has a long history of covering the spread. Odd things happen under Monday night lights, especially with Seattle who have the most insane fans in football.
Two, don’t underestimate the sway fans have over these replacement referees in crucial moments. Many of these refs are from the Lingerie Football League — let’s say that again, the Lingerie Football League their sponsor is probably Victoria’s Secret not Nike — they aren’t ready for 90,000 boos and earth-shaking “B.S.” chants. Everyone knows a big part of home-field advantage is the zebras consciously or even subconsciously slightly hedging the home team in calls; we expect it to be even worse with these mentally unprepared “scabs.”
The Seahawks win and cover was the climax of a rough weekend for bettors. They cashed in on one of our top three spreads in Week 3, and that was only 54 percent that bet the Houston Texans -3 (+115) at the Denver Broncos.
The big losses came at the hands of two more dreaded homedogs. The first was the San Francisco 49ers -7 (-115) at the Minnesota Vikings. Eighty-three percent took the Niners against the spread while 97 percent didn’t hesitate to bet the -330 moneyline. We can understand why bettors jumped on the odds, the Vikings are a run-first team, the Niners are the most outrun D we’ve seen since the ’00 Baltimore Ravens. But Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is a freak of nature, and was still able to gain just enough positive yardage to open things up for second-year quarterback Christian Ponder and the Vikings passing attack. Also for the first time in a long time, 49ers QB Alex Smith looked like Alex Smith, throwing his first INT after a franchise record 249 attempts without. 24-13 Niners was the final.
Going into the game the Niners were maybe the only high-profile team playing to their potential, who will bettors trust now?
The next big wager was the Detroit Lions as -4 (-120) favorites at the Tennessee Titans. Again, the strategy for 85 percent taking the Lions versus the spread (another 81 percent took the Detroit -210 moneyline) made sense, Tennessee was bottom feeding in every defensive and offensive category, while Detroit had one of the deadliest passing attacks in the league. Unfortunately, Tennessee spent every trick to stay ahead of the Lions. We could drop another 500 words explaining how this game ended up 44-41 Tennessee after overtime, but just realize the Lions will be in plenty of shootouts this year if the secondary and special teams don’t improve. As for Tennessee, Sunday’s win proved their betting chances will be predicated on how second-year QB Jake Locker performs, the team ran only 12 run plays for RB Chris Johnson.
Despite a weekend of losses bettors did make some cashback by betting the Total. It appears offenses, particularly the passing attack, are nowhere near as efficient as they were last year. Regardless QB mistakes are leading to points for the opposition, and 75 percent of bettors beat us by taking the OVER in the Texas-Broncos game and Titans-Lions game. The Niners-Vikings game went under, but 53 percent of bettors were savvy enough to recognize an old-school matchup when they saw it and took the UNDER.
The Week 4 question is will the Monday Night massacre affect the way players wager? Also, which team can be trusted going forward? Expect an interesting breakdown in seven days.
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