Rovell: Chiefs’ Cover Wrecks Sportsbooks on Monday Night Football

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Patrick Mahomes

Monday Night Update

Entering Monday Night Football, the thought of the Chiefs covering vs. the Chargers had bookmakers on edge.

FanDuel said it would lose at least $1 million if K.C. ended up winning by more than a touchdown, due to the number of parlays and teasers that carried over from a chalky Sunday. John Murray from the SuperBook said the Chiefs covering would make it “possibly be worst MNF game of the year.” William Hill oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich said simply “Not good” when asked about his liability on the Chiefs.

Turns out, oddsmakers’ fears were justified: The Chiefs held off a late comeback attempt from the Chargers, intercepting a Philip Rivers red zone throw in the final seconds to win, 24-17, covering every pregame spread.

It capped a disastrous three days for sportsbooks as public favorites covered at a high clip. In fact, DraftKings Sportsbook told me it was the worst three-day stretch in the 14.5-month history of the book.

The Chiefs winning — and the game staying under the total of 53.5 — was particularly fruitful for one bettor in New Jersey, who turned $5 into $63,394.95 with this incredible 17-leg parlay:

  • Patriots moneyline at Eagles [win]
  • Patriots-Eagles Under 45.5 [win]
  • 49ers moneyline vs. Cardinals [win]
  • Raiders moneyline at Raiders [win]
  • Raiders-Bengals Under 48.5 [win]
  • Rams moneyline vs. Bears [win]
  • Rams-Bears Under 40.5 [win]
  • Pelicans moneyline vs. Warriors [win]
  • Pelicans-Warriors Under 227.5 [win]
  • Nuggets moneyline at Grizzlies [win]
  • Nuggets-Grizzlies Over 214.5 [win]
  • Golden Knights -1.5 vs. Flames [win]
  • Blackhawks -1.5 vs. Sabres [win]
  • Saint Mary’s 1H -14.5 vs. Cal Poly [win]
  • Oregon -15 vs. UT-Arlington [win]
  • Chiefs moneyline vs. Chargers [win]
  • Chiefs-Chargers Under 53.5 [win]

Not to be overshadowed, a Chiefs -3.5 bettor at the Westgate cashed a $50,000 ticket, as well.

Bookmakers won’t get much rest in Week 12 with marquee games all over the slate, including Cowboys-Pats (on which we’ve already seen a bettor wager $53K), Packers-49ers, Seahawks-Eagles and Ravens-Rams. And you can bet the public, flush with cash after a bountiful week, is chomping at the bit to get down some action.

Big Decision Looms on Monday Night Football

3 p.m. ET: Monday night’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers could be the most costly game of the year for sportsbooks, as a K.C. win and cover would finish out a week of popular favorites winning and parlays and teasers cashing.

The two most popular parlay teams this week were the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, said the SuperBook’s John Murray. The Chiefs are No. 3.

The New England Patriots won and covered.

The Dallas Cowboys won and covered.

Now it’s up to the Chiefs, who are a 5-point favorite over the Chargers tonight.

“On parlays and teasers, we have a high six-figure liability if the Chiefs win but do not cover,” said FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessy. “If the Chiefs win and cover the spread, we can add nearly $500,000 to our liability.”

Murray added, “If the Chiefs win by 4+, it would be a huge loser for us. A lot of parlay liability and a player bet $50,000 on Chiefs -3.5 on Friday. It could possibly be worst MNF game of the year.”

William Hill will also be watching the game closely. It had a client wager $440,000 to win $400,000 on Chargers +4.5. William Hill oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich said, despite the near-half-million-dollar bet on the Chargers, his book’s looming liability on the Chiefs is “not good,” adding “We’re definitely big Chargers fans. Rough week.”

MGM is in the same boat. Scott Shelton from Mirage in Vegas told me that the book’s parlay and teaser liability is “definitely” north of six figures. “We took a $110,000 bet on the Chargers +4 last night and it barely made a dent.”

DraftKings, believe it or not, is sweating a $5 parlay on Monday Night Football. If the Chiefs win and the Under 53.5 this, one bettor would net $63,394.95 on this incredible 17-leg parlay:

  • Patriots moneyline at Eagles [win]
  • Patriots-Eagles Under 45.5 [win]
  • 49ers moneyline vs. Cardinals [win]
  • Raiders moneyline at Raiders [win]
  • Raiders-Bengals Under 48.5 [win]
  • Rams moneyline vs. Bears [win]
  • Rams-Bears Under 40.5 [win]
  • Pelicans moneyline vs. Warriors [win]
  • Pelicans-Warriors Under 227.5 [win]
  • Nuggets moneyline at Grizzlies [win]
  • Nuggets-Grizzlies Over 214.5 [win]
  • Golden Knights -1.5 vs. Flames [win]
  • Blackhawks -1.5 vs. Sabres [win]
  • Saint Mary’s 1H -14.5 vs. Cal Poly [win]
  • Oregon -15 vs. UT-Arlington [win]
  • Chiefs moneyline vs. Chargers [pending]
  • Chiefs-Chargers Under 53.5 [pending]

Sunday Evening Updates

11:30 p.m. ET: A rough day for sportsbooks ended with a thud on Sunday night, as the Rams won and covered as 6-point favorites against the Bears. Most books needed Chicago to cover, if not win outright. But that’s not what happened, as L.A. cruised to a 17-7 victory.

William Hill, in particular, was watching closely, as one bettor had a $100,000 three-team teaser on the line. After the first two legs of the teaser cashed –Browns +3.5 and Eagles +10 — all the bettor needed was a Rams win to take home $145,000 … and that’s exactly what he got.

9:15 p.m. ET: William Hill, the largest retail operator in the U.S., sent over the results from some of their biggest bets of the day.

What’s perhaps most interesting is that the book’s biggest win came via a $560,000 wager on the Eagles to cover as 4.5-point underdogs against the Patriots.

This wager came in after the book told me that 91% of the money in that game was on New England. So this had to balance William Hill’s books a bit.

Here’s a rundown of all the big bets, including a major one that’s pending for Monday Night Football:

Biggest Bets: Winners

  • $560,000 to win $400,000 on Colts Moneylines (-140) vs. Jaguars
  • $100,000 to win $145,000 on a three-team teaser of Browns +3.5, Eagles +10 and Rams pick’em

Biggest Bets: Losers

  • $560,000 to win $509,090 on Eagles +4.5 vs. Patriots
  • $440,000 to win $400,000 on Buccaneers +5 vs. Saints

Patrick Everson reported that these two bets above, plus the $560K Colts moneyline wager, all came from one bettor in New Jersey, who ended up losing at least $600K.

  • $100,000 on a three-team teaser of Buccaneers +11.5 (loss), Eagles +11 and Chargers +10.5
  • $75,000 to win $446,844 on a parlay of Buccaneers +5 (loss), Chargers +4 and Eagles +4.5 (loss)

Biggest Bets: Pending

  • $440,000 to win $400,000 on Chargers +4.5 vs. Chiefs in Mexico City on Monday Night Football

7:40 p.m. ET: What does a dream day for the public and a nightmare day for bookmakers look like?

Cowboys cover.

Patriots cover.

Saints cover.

Oddsmakers knew the results of these three games — Cowboys-Lions, Saints-Bucs, Pats-Eagles — would swing their day. Three public teams. Three road favorites. And ultimately, three winners.

Westgate’s Jeff Sherman called it his book’s “second-worst Sunday of the season” entering the Sunday Night Football game between the Bears and Rams.

CG Technology’s Tony DiTomasso told me, “It was a bad day. Patriots was the game of the day.”

Patrick Eichner from PointsBet added, “Quite a different story from last Sunday — definitely a pretty tough outing for the book. Like most, we had big liabilities on the Cowboys and Patriots, with folks all over both. The Jets big win was also a bad result, amplified by our NJ bias.”

At first, it looked like the Eagles, 4.5-point home underdogs, might pull off the outright upset, but New England’s defense proved to be too much to handle.

Even with all of the bad news swirling around, some books managed to get a break at the end of the day. The Cardinals were a sneaky liability for a few shops — at PointsBet, 90% of the money was on Arizona at San Fran. FanDuel had 84% of the money on the Cards.

The spread fluctuated between 10 and 10.5 all week, so the final play of the day proved pivotal. With Arizona down 4 and attempting a miracle lateral play, the ball came loose and the 49ers eventually returned it for a touchdown. They did not kick the extra point, so the game ended 36-26 49ers, a push for some Cardinals bettors, a win for those lucky enough to snag the +10.5.

Sunday Afternoon Updates

4:15 p.m. ET: Every bookmaker we spoke with on Sunday said they needed one thing in the early games: A Detroit cover (vs. Dallas) — or, even better, a Detroit outright win.

The public couldn’t bet the Cowboys fast enough, as Dallas was getting the benefit of facing Lions backup QB Jeff Driskel with starter Matthew Stafford continuing to recover from back surgery.

At William Hill, the largest retail sportsbook in the U.S., the Cowboys received an incredible 93% of the money. At FanDuel, it was 92% of the money. At DraftKings? 88%.

The spread closed at Cowboys -7 or -7.5 depending on the book, and the entire game swung on two separate 2-point conversions. After scoring a touchdown midway though the fourth quarter, Dallas nailed its 2-pointer to extend its lead from 12 to 14.

Detroit quickly responded with a score of its own, and also decided to go for 2. While it was the analytically smart thing to do, the decision is what would doom anyone cheering for the Lions to cover as underdogs. The Lions failed to convert and couldn’t muster much in their final drive of the game, losing by 8.

Every Cowboys bet covered, bringing books to their knees. Westgate’s Jeff Sherman called it, “The worst loss of the morning.”

Bookmakers and bettors won’t get any rest from sweating big decisions, as another one looms in the late afternoon slate with Patriots-Eagles. As you might imagine, bettors have flocked to back the Patriots off the loss as road favorites.

2:17 p.m. ET: The most-bet game today, in terms of handle, at William Hill? Easily Patriots-Eagles. And in a sign of just how much the sportsbook will cheering for Philly, Patriots bets account for an incredible 91% of the money wagered on that game.

When you account for all the parlay and teaser liability tied up in the Patriots, it’s clear the largest retail sportsbook in the U.S. will be massive Eagles fans on Sunday.

2 p.m. ET: As first reported by Patrick Everson, one bettor placed three huge wagers this morning at MGM that will have folks behind the counter in Vegas sweating:

  • $88,000 to win $80,000 on Jets +2.5 at Redskins
  • $88,000 to win $80,000 on Chiefs -4 vs. Chargers (Monday Night Football)
  • $77,000 to win $70,000 on Raiders -11.5 vs. Bengals
  • Total: $253,000 to win $230,000

Scott Shelton from the Mirage told The Action Network, “He is a regular. Not considered as ‘a sharp.’ Just a gambler.”

Sunday Morning Updates

11:36 a.m. ET: DraftKings told me it took a $60,000 wager on the Raiders to beat the Bengals outright at home. The bet, which was placed at -625 odds, would profit $9,600.

The Raiders are the second-most popular bet this week at PointsBet, getting 88% of the money. (The Cardinals are the most popular at 90% of the money.)

11:22 a.m. ET: One of the more interesting matchups of the day is the Patriots-Eagles, a game I’m keeping a close eye on it since it’s my FadeRovell pick of the week at PointsBet.

Both of these teams had a bye last week, and unsurprisingly, most of the betting public is siding with the Pats, who are coming off a rare loss. At FanDuel, 81% of the money is on New England. At Draftkings, it’s at 79%.

PointsBet, meanwhile, has only 43% of the money on the Pats, but oddsmakers there say that has more to do with the book’s strong South Jersey clientele, which skews to the green and white.

According to The Action Network’s data, the Patriots are the second-most popular bet of the day, with 78% of the betting tickets laying the points vs. Philly. (The Cowboys, 80% of bets at Detroit, are currently the most popular bet.)

11 a.m. ET: The biggest bets that the New Jersey sportsbook PointsBet has taken so far:

  • $15,500 to win $14,420 on Cardinals at 49ers
  • $14,000 to win $13,875 on Dolphins vs. Bills
  • $12,000 to win $11,775 on Bears at Rams
  • $10,500 to win $10,000 on Broncos at Vikings

PointsBet has actually gotten hit with a fair amount of Dolphins money, believe it or not. The book told me 77% of its handle on that game is on Miami, which is a different than what some shops in Vegas are seeing.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, continue to be a very trendy underdog bet. In addition to the $15,500 wager PointsBet took, we’ve reported other large wagers Arizona at some Vegas properties.

The SuperBook took a $22,000 bet on Cards +10.5, while the South Point took a $33,000 wager.

According to The Action Network’s data, 66% of the bets are currently on Arizona to cover.

10:27 a.m. ET: We just got our weekly update from Jeff Sherman at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

His book’s biggest needs today are the Lions +7 vs. the Cowboys and the Eagles +4.5 vs. the Patriots. That jives with his sharps vs. public report. As you can see in this chart, the public can’t get enough of both the aforementioned road favorites:

The biggest bets the SuperBook has taken so far:

  • $22,000 to win $20,000 on Redskins -1.5 vs. Jets
  • $22,000 to win $20,000 on Cardinals +10.5 at 49ers

Speaking of the Cardinals…

10:15 a.m. ET: Believe it or not, the Cardinals are the new darlings of the NFL betting world. A higher percentage of money is on the Cardinals today than on any other team in any other game in America.

At PointsBet, 90% of the money is on Arizona (3-6-1), a 10-point road underdog at the 8-1 49ers. At FanDuel, it’s 84% of the money.

Earlier this week, Jimmy Vaccaro from the South Point in Las Vegas reported that his book took a $33,000 wager on Cardinals +10.5. The bet would net $30,000 if Arizona covers.

So why does everyone love the Cardinals all of a sudden? Well, Kliff Kingsbury’s team only lost by 3 a couple weeks ago to San Francisco and the 49ers are coming off their first loss.

At 7-3, the Cardinals are tied with the Packers for the best against-the-spread record in the NFL.


Friday Updates

Somehow, Cardinals at 49ers has become the most intriguing game of Week 11 — at least from a betting perspective.

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened this game San Francisco -14, but by Friday afternoon it was down to 10.

“We went down to 13.5 right away,” said the Superbook’s Eric Osterman. “And then we skipped all the way down to 11.5. It wasn’t really critical because there’s not a key number in there.”

It fell another point to 10.5, when a sharp bettor came in Thursday and put the biggest bet of the week so far at the book — $20,000 — on the Cardinals, so the number became 10.

It’s a game where both the public and the sharps appear to be backing the Cardinals.

“For the public, I think they think of the 49ers first loss, but I think they also think about the game from a couple weeks ago, where the 49ers barely beat the Cardinals (28-25),” Osterman said.

Osterman also said he was surprised to find that more parlays have the Cardinals on them than do the 49ers.

The Westgate isn’t the only shop seeing a lot of support for Arizona. At FanDuel, 86 % of the money is on the Cardinals, while DraftKings reports it at 81%.

Five-Figure Splash on a One-Win Team

The aforementioned bettor also took the Redskins as 1.5-point favorites against the Jets for another $20,000. After beating the Giants, the green New York team is getting support. More than 85% of the money at both DraftKings and FanDuel is on the Jets as a 2.5-point underdog.

Misery likes company. Both the Jets and the Redskins are 3-6 Against the Spread (ATS) this season.

Everyone Still Loves Mahomes, But For How Much Longer

The betting public is giving Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes the benefit of the doubt after coming back from injury last week, but losing to the Titans.

The Chiefs, who have become one of the most public teams in the league over the past few seasons, are once again strongly backed this week as 3.5-point favorites against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“Everyone still loves Mahomes,” Osterman said. “If they lose here, I think some of the shine will finally come off.”

The Chiefs, who are getting 92% of the money on them at both DraftKings and FanDuel, are 5-5 ATS in 2019.

Pats and Bears Popular Parlay Pieces

The toughest game to call this week might be the Eagles-Patriots. Of course, that’s the game where if the Patriots don’t cover as 3.5 point favorites I’m going to Philly to become a human-cheesesteak.

New England is always a popular parlay piece, but Osterman says he’s surprised by the amount of bettors including Patriots -3.5 in parlays. More surprising than that is that a healthy volume of parlays at the SuperBook include the Bears’ moneyline.

Chicago is a 6.5-point underdog against the Rams, who lost to the Steelers last week.

Thursday Updates

For the first time in a very long time, the Cleveland Browns were public darlings entering the season. Bettors were so hyped about the moves Cleveland made in the offseason that the Browns were bet down to 20-1 to win the Super Bowl.

And then the games started.

The Browns won two of their first eight games to start the season, sending their Super Bowl price to 100-1. Cleveland’s 2-6-1 record Against the Spread is the second-worst mark in the NFL.

Bettors don’t like to stick around derailed hype trains for too long and the Browns are, once again, an unpopular bet in the NFL.

After attracting 47% of the bets as 3-point home favorites against the Bills last Sunday, Cleveland is only getting 37% of the tickets as 3-point home favorites versus Mason Rudolph and the suddenly-hot Steelers.

Pittsburgh has won four games in a row, including three covers and all of a sudden finds itself right back in the mix for a playoff berth. A run like that will put you back in the public’s good graces and that’s exactly where Mike Tomlin’s team finds itself on Thursday night.

The Steelers have attracted 81% of the money at DraftKings, 72.5% at PointsBet and 59% at William Hill.

Needless to say, most sportsbooks will be rooting for the Browns on Thursday Night Football.

Lopsided Action

The game with the most tickets on Sunday is also the most lopsided. As of Thursday evening, 80% of the bets are on the Patriots to cover as 3.5-point road favorites over the Eagles.

I was happy to swim with the public in this one and am so confident that the Patriots will beat the number that I have agreed to travel to Philly on Monday and dump a bucket-full of cheese whiz on my head if the Eagles cover.

It’s not unusual to see the Patriots among the most popular sides on any given Sunday, but the two other public sides for Week 11 are a bit of a surprise.

Believe it or not, the Arizona Cardinals are an overwhelmingly popular underdog against the 9-1 San Francisco 49ers. The Niners were just handed their first loss on Monday, so they are on short rest, but it was still interesting to see this line crash from as high as San Francisco -14 to -10.5 at some shops.

According to our market-wide data, Arizona is getting 79% of the action and 69% of the money against San Francisco.

After beating the Giants straight up on Sunday (a win that sent me to Times Square in my underwear), bettors are happy to ride with the Jets as short road underdogs against another terrible team this weekend — the Washington Redskins.

Gang Green is getting 72% of the bets against Washington, making them the third-most popular side on the board so far.