Ordinarily, hearing the words “Black Sunday” leaves me feeling as queasy as Jets fans when they hear the words “Sanchez drops back to pass …” And that’s because usually I’m the one uttering the phrase after a catastrophic NFL Sunday. This past weekend, though, I heard “Black Sunday” and immediately busted out a grin that was wider than Andy Reid’s backside. The reason? It came from the other side of the betting counter, where sportsbook directors stood in shock after taking a beating in Week 9—so much so that it was front-page news Monday on ESPN.com.
“I’ve been in this business for 26 years, and I’ve never seen what I saw yesterday,” Jay Kornegay, vice president of race and sports at the LVH, told ESPN.
Jimmy Vaccaro, a Las Vegas oddsmaker for nearly four decades and now spokesman for William Hill North America, called it “the worst single regular-season day I’ve ever seen.”
Quick recap: Favorites went 10-4 against the spread in Week 9, including taking eight of 12 decisions on Sunday. Throw in the fact that “square” bettors coupled several of these favorites in big-score parlays, and you can see why Kornegay, Vaccaro, et al. were crying poor.
Perhaps the most shocking development was that I, too, joined in on the cash grab, scoring with the Broncos and Seahawks. And that followed Saturday winners on Kansas State and San Jose State, resulting in a perfect 4-0 week that pushed my bankroll back into quadruple figures. (Alas, I was not the lucky one who hit a 15-team parlay at Red Rock Station, turning a $5 wager into a cool $100,000—at least as far as you know ...)
On to this week’s selections (note: all point spreads are as of Nov. 6).
$220 on Lions -2 at Vikings: 8, 19, 11. No, those aren’t the coaching IQ results for Jason Garrett, Chan Gailey and Romeo Crennel. Those are Christian Ponder’s completion totals in his last three games. In two of those contests, he amassed 58 and 63 passing yards and churned out passer ratings of 35.5 and 37.3! In other words, the Vikings quarterback has lapped Cam Newton in the “Sophomore Slump of the Year” race. And while Minnesota did post a 20-13 victory in Detroit on Sept. 30, the stats say it was a fluke: The Lions outgained the Vikings by 114 yards, had more first downs (23-15) and were better on third down (6-for-16 vs. 3-for-12). Minnesota only won because it opened the game with a 105-yard kickoff return for a TD.
This is a classic NFL midseason role reversal, as Minnesota has dropped three of four (both straight up and ATS) while the Lions have won three of four (going 4-0 ATS).
$110 on Seahawks -6½ vs. Jets: Last week, I justified laying the chalk with Seattle by saying that if the Seahawks could defeat Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in their house, they could certainly beat Ponder. Now it’s Sanchez’s turn to deal with Seattle’s stout pass defense ... not to mention the loudest stadium in the NFL … in likely poor weather conditions. Giddy-up! (FYI: The Seahawks are now 4-0 SU and ATS at home this year and 7-2 SU and ATS in their last nine home games; New York has lost nine of 12 on the road, going 4-8 ATS.)
$110 on Syracuse +2½ vs. Louisville: The Cardinals are 9-0 (and ninth in the BCS standings). Syracuse is 4-5 (and one of those wins came against Stony Brook). So why is this number so short? Because Louisville is a fraud: Five of the Cardinals’ nine wins were by a total of 21 points, and their victims include Kentucky (1-9), Division I-AA Missouri State, Florida International (2-8), Southern Miss (0-9), South Florida (3-6) and Temple (3-5).
$77 on Colorado State +2 vs. UNLV: Oct. 24, 2009. That’s the last time UNLV won a road game. Since then, the Rebels are 0-20 away from Las Vegas. I repeat: 0-20. And they’re favored this week. Seriously?
Best of the Rest: Fresno State -3 at Nevada ($55); Iowa State +10½ at Texas ($55); Texans +1 at Bears ($55).