UPDATE: The Vikings lost on Monday night, so the record was not broken.
Sports bettors generally don’t like it when the favorite wins. Yes, their goal is to draw a line so that the action is divided on both sides, but the audience still tends to like the favorites. Why? It’s simply easier for casual bettors to see who they think will win and then bet on that team, although for that reason it makes more sense to bet on the underdog. So last weekend wasn’t a particularly popular weekend, but rather a historic one for the favorites in the NFL.
The favorites have played 12 of the 15 games so far in Week 12, tying the Super Bowl record for most games in a week. If the Minnesota Vikings (-3) beat the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football tonight, a new record will be set.
“Probably the biggest week [of the football season] for customers,” Craig Mucklow, vice president of trading at Caesars Sportsbook, said ESPN.com.
At first it didn’t look like it would be a record week. The first Thanksgiving game was the Green Bay Packers at the Detroit Lions. An improving but underperforming team against one of the best teams in the league, on the road, no less. Nevertheless, the Packers, 8.5 point underdogs, dominated the game from the start and won clearly. So sports betting was off to a great start, especially because it was one of the highest-stakes games of the season.
But then the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers failed as favorites and it went from there. The Miami Dolphins defeated the New York Jets in Black Friday play and the Sunday favorites took an 8-2 lead against the spread. The only underdogs to beat the spread – and both won outright – were the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons.
If anyone was aware of the historic nature of NFL Week 12, they were probably sweating over the late afternoon game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills. Philly was a 2.5-point favorite at home, but lost for most of the game. They briefly took the lead in the 4th quarter before the Bills came roaring back, needing a last-minute 59-yard field goal in terrible conditions to send the game into overtime.
Buffalo scored first in OT, so the Eagles not only needed a touchdown on their next possession to win, but also to cover the spread. And that’s exactly what they did, scoring a touchdown with just a few minutes left to win by three.