Show Me the Money: The NFL Games That Crushed Sportsbooks This Season
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady
- Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook runs through the 2018 NFL games that won and lost bettors the most money this season, including the Giants at Cowboys game back in Week 2.
2018 is in the rearview — and no matter how the NFL season ended up for you as a bettor, you likely had a big score and an excruciating loss.
The sportsbooks are no different: They win (and lose) big from time to time, as well.
But which games cost books the most? And which had them stuffing their coffers?
Since it’s hard to get a consensus across sportsbooks, we asked Jay Kornegay, the vice president of operations at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to look through their books and tell us what games were the best and worst for them.
WORST GAMES FOR BETTORS
1. New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, Week 2
The week before, the Cowboys couldn’t get anything going against the Panthers and lost 16-8, while the Giants lost 20-15 to the Jaguars.
The Giants closed at 3.5 point favorites, and Kornegay says “everyone was fading the Cowboys off their bad loss.”
Dallas went up 10-0 and never looked back, beating the G-Men by a touchdown and covering.
2. Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings, Week 12
Not the easiest game to call for bettors. The Packers came into this Sunday Night game 4-5-1, while the Vikings were 5-4-1. Both were coming off loses — the Packers to the Seahawks and the Vikings to the Bears.
The Vikings were 3.5-point favorites, but the money was coming in big on Green Bay. “We had big liability on the Packers already and we had a house player bet $50,000 on Packers +3.5 right before kickoff,” Kornegay said.
The Packers came within seven points in the game’s closing minutes, but the Vikings recovered an onside kick and won by 7.
3. New York Jets at Detroit Lions, Week 1
Ah the famous, “Sam Darnold should be in the Hall of Fame” game. First Monday Night Football game of the season.
Since no one had played a game yet, the Lions were installed as 6.5-point favorites, by the time of kickoff it moved to -7.
“We had a lot of moneyline parlays and teasers to the Lions and a house player bet $30,000 on Lions -7,” Kornegay said.
Jets scored the most points in the Todd Bowles Era and put 48 on the board. Darnold, who became the youngest rookie to start a Week 1 game since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, went 16-of-21 for 198 yards.
He threw for two touchdowns with one pick. After this game, the Jets failed to cover the next three games.
4. Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, Week 2
The Texans, who lost to the Patriots in Week 1 by seven, opened as 1.5-point favorites, which swelled to 3 by kickoff. “The public loaded up on them,” Kornegay said. The Titans won by three, 20-17.
5. New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans, Week 10
The Titans came into this game at 4-4 and the Patriots at 7-2. Even when accounting for playing on the road, the Pats appeared to be a steal at -6.5.
This was one of three games this season the Patriots had at least 70 percent of the tickets on them. They lost two of three of those straight up, including this one by an astounding 24 points.
“We took a ton of money line parlays and teasers on them,” Kornegay said.
BEST GAMES FOR BETTORS
1. Buccaneers at Giants, Week 11
Every sportsbook could have a different bad game, but for the SuperBook, it was this one. The Giants, 2-7 at the time, opened as a 1-point favorites and it closed -3 against the 3-6 Bucs.
“We had a house player bet $100,000 on the over of 52,” said Kornegay. “There was also a lot of money on the Giants. Giants and the over was our worst case scenario.”
By halftime, only 21 points had been scored and the 52 looked relatively safe. Then came 52 points in the second half alone and the over hit.
Bettors who took the Giants early also cashed, as the Giants won by 3. Those who bet it late pushed, as the Buccaneers scored a touchdown with 1:30 left to narrow the lead to 3.
2. Patriots at Jets, Week 12
In one of the most dramatic betting games of the season, the Patriots were 13.5 point favorites and the public still loved them, with the Jets having lost four straight.
The Action Network’s survey of sportsbooks reflected that 82 percent of the tickets were on the Patriots.
With 4:29 to go, the Pats scored the touchdown that put them up 14. The Jets had seemingly endless chances to score toward the end of the game, but turned the ball over on downs from the Patriots 4 and New England covered by a half a point.
3. Chiefs at Browns, Week 9
Hue Jackson got fired for his 3-36-1 record the week of this game. The Chiefs came into the game at 7-1, while the Browns were 2-5-1.
The public was convinced that even Baker Mayfield couldn’t save the current state of affairs. The Action Network’s data shows that this was the only game all year where the Chiefs got 75+ percent of the tickets.
At the SuperBook, the Chiefs were close an 8-point favorite on the road and “the public loaded up on them,” Kornegay said.
Chiefs won 37-21 and the book got buried. After this game, KC went 1-5-1 against the spread.
4. Cowboys at Panthers, Week 1
The game started out as a pick’em but eventually moved to Panthers as 3-point favorites with the public loving the Panthers.
Dallas went down 16-0 and didn’t score until 5:21 to go. The Panthers went on to win by 8.
The folks at the SuperBook would have solace in the fact that one of their biggest wins of the season came later that night in the SNF game between the Patriots and Lions.
5. New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, Week 8
Two of the worst beats the SuperBook took this NFL season were in games where Patriots were 13.5 point favorites — and both times, the public bet on the dogs.
The Bills were 2-5 going into this game, and it didn’t look the Patriots were going to cover, as they only went up by 12 with 4:50 to go. But a Devin McCourty pick-six sealed the deal and the Pats rolled 25-6, covering the spread.