It’s tough to back giant NFL favorites these days, but bettors continue to do it.
For example, this week at Caesars Sportsbook, a bettor placed a $19,000 money-line wager on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to beat the Carolina Panthers at -700 odds. Five minutes later, according to the sportsbook, the same bettor put another $19,800 on the Buccaneers at the same odds. In total, they had $38,800 riding on Tom Brady and the Bucs with a chance of winning a little over $5,428.
That didn’t work out so well.
The Panthers, who were 13.5-point underdogs, stunned the Buccaneers 21-3 on Sunday in the second-largest upset of the season, point spread-wise. It was the third time Brady has lost outright as a double-digit favorite in three seasons with the Buccaneers. He lost six times as a double-digit favorite in his 19 seasons with the New England Patriots.
There was some money on the Panthers to pull the upset, just not much. The largest money-line bet on Carolina at Caesars was $3,000 at 5-1 odds. The bulk of the action, though — including from some professional bettors — was on the Buccaneers.
A sportsbook director for BetMGM told the Vegas Sports and Information Network on Saturday that there were only five bets on the Panthers +13. DraftKings and FanDuel reported lopsided action on the Buccaneers ahead of the early Sunday kickoff, and at sportsbook PointsBet, 96% of the money wagered on the game’s winner was on the Bucs.
“With games like these, many [bettors] use it to fill their Sunday parlays as a banker pick, so this went down as one of the biggest parlay-killers of the season,” Kevin Lawler, head of trading for PointsBet, told ESPN.
“We had sharp action on the Bucs all week,” WynnBET trader Andy Morrissey added, “so losing outright was a great result for us.”
Perhaps the bettors suffering the most after the Buccaneers’ loss Sunday were those who bet big on Tampa Bay back in March, right before Brady announced he was ending his brief retirement. Multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks reported taking large Super Bowl bets on the Buccaneers at odds upwards of 50-1 on March 10.
Three days later, on Selection Sunday for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Brady announced he was coming back to the Buccaneers.
“We were concerned with the way the bets came in,” said John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas. “New players signing up on the same day and all trying to bet as much as they possibly could on Bucs futures and a couple days later Brady just happens to announce he is unretiring. What a coincidence. That was concerning, for sure, and it still is. The Bucs may not win the Super Bowl this year or even make the playoffs but having to guard against situations like that is always concerning. That’s the job.”
The Buccaneers, who fell to 3-4 after the loss, are now around 18-1 to win the Super Bowl.
• Several sportsbooks reported a winning Sunday, but it was not as lucrative as previous weeks. The Raiders, Jets and Giants covering the spread were positive results for the betting public, which needed everything it could get after last week’s wipeout.
The Bucs and Packers losing outright as favorites produced the biggest wins for the sportsbooks.
“Sunday was great in Nevada,” Murray of the SuperBook said. “New Jersey was another story. Do the local teams in that part of the country ever lose in sporting events? Phillies Game 5 [of the NLCS], Phillies pennant, Giants and Jets outright. It was an ugly day for us in New Jersey to say the least.”
• PointsBet took a $300,000 money-line bet Thursday on the Arizona Cardinals to defeat the New Orleans Saints at -145 odds. It’s tied for the largest NFL bet of the season, the sportsbook said, and it paid off with the Cardinals’ 42-34 win.
• The largest reported NFL bets at Caesars Sportsbook this week:
$220,000 on the Jets -1 (beat Broncos 16-9)
$220,000 on Titans -2.5 (beat Colts 19-10)
$192,500 on Chargers -5 (lost to the Seahawks 37-23)
(The same bettor also placed seven six-figure college football bets this week that you can see below.)
• “The Raiders game was the worst,” Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said Sunday night. “The morning games were all good, and the afternoon was all bad, except for Seattle. If the Chargers get there, and it’s a disaster with all the favorites winning late. We have enough of a cushion with the morning games to be a little bit into the positive going into the night game.”
Pullen said Caesars would need either the underdog Steelers or underdog Bears (vs. Patriots on “Monday Night Football”) to cover the spread to avoid a losing week.
The Steelers covered the spread in a 16-10 loss to the Dolphins.
• The Atlanta Falcons failed to cover the spread for the first time this season as they lost 35-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals.
• Week 8 opening lines, via Caesars Sportsbook:
Ravens at Buccaneers -1.5, 43.5 (Thursday)
Broncos vs. Jaguars -3, 40 (in London)
Bears at Cowboys -10, 43
Raiders PK, 44 at Saints
Panthers at Falcons -6.5, 40.5
Steelers at Eagles -10.5, 45
Dolphins -4, 50 at Lions
Cardinals at Vikings -5.5, 48.5
College football notables
• Pac-12 home favorites have been one of the bets in college football this season, going 33-1 outright and 23-10-1 against the spread.
• Notable opening lines, via Circa Sports:
Ohio State -15, 61.5 at Penn State
Oklahoma State -2, 57.5 at Kansas State
Florida vs. Georgia -21, 51.5
Kentucky at Tennessee -11, 64.5
Michigan State at Michigan -21, 51.5
• Caesars Sportsbook reported taking seven six-figure college football bets from a customer this week in Nevada:
$120,000 on Arkansas State +7 (lost to Louisiana-Lafayette 38-18)
$110,000 on Nevada +7 (lost to San Diego State 23-7)
$110,000 on West Virginia +6 (lost to Texas Tech 48-10)
$110,000 on Syracuse +14 (lost to Clemson 27-21)
$110,000 on Duke +10 (beat Miami 45-21)
$110,000 on North Texas +10 (lost to Texas-San Antonio 31-27)
$110,000 on Florida International +14.5 (beat Charlotte 34-15)