A Sunday that featured a mix of favorites and underdogs winning — and covering the spread — came down to what some bookmakers called a "classic sharps versus squares game."
Last Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs opened as 2.5-point road favorites over the Baltimore Ravens in the Sunday prime-time finale of Week 2.
Patrick Mahomes had just rallied the Chiefs to another comeback win over the Cleveland Browns , and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were getting ready to take on the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. Shortly after Jackson and the Ravens blew a big lead in a disappointing loss to the Raiders, the line on the Kansas City-Baltimore game would begin to grow across the betting market.
It reached Chiefs -4 by Tuesday, before settling back at -3.5. Money poured in on the Chiefs all week. An hour before kickoff, sportsbooks began to report on the lopsided action that had been placed on the game: 89% of the money on the point spread was on the Chiefs at PointsBet, and 94% of dollars bet on the money line were on the Chiefs at BetRivers sportsbooks.
Multiple sportsbooks were able to attract money on the Ravens from larger bettors by moving the line to +4, so they somewhat could control the size of their decision. Parlays, though, were another story.
"We’ve got a decent amount of parlay and teaser liability tied to the Chiefs, along with the straight bets," Chris Bennett, sportsbook director for Circa Sports in Las Vegas, told ESPN. "So we need the Ravens for quite a bit. We did get several sharp bets on the Ravens, which will make the losing less painful [if the Chiefs cover]."
On Thursday, there were 35 times more bets on the Chiefs than the Ravens at the SuperBook in Las Vegas. The margin tightened to 28 times more bets on the Chiefs on Friday and was down to 3-1 at kickoff. But the SuperBook still needed the Ravens to cover the spread to avoid a rare losing Sunday.
"Sunday wasn’t our best day. [It’s] shaping up to be a break-even or small winning day if we get the Ravens or a fairly big loser if we don’t," John Murray, executive director at the SuperBook in Las Vegas, told ESPN ahead of the Sunday night contest that would come down to the wire.
The Ravens capitalized on a late Chiefs fumble to secure a 36-35 win, saving sportsbooks from a losing day at the squares’ expense.
NFL notable bets
In its biggest decisions of the early slate, BetRivers needed the Dolphins and Bengals. The Dolphins did not cover the spread as 3-point underdogs in a 35-0 loss to the Bills, and the Bengals lost to the Bears 20-17, failing to cover a spread that dropped from -3 to -1.5 late in the week when the majority of bets were placed.
Somewhat oddly, at BetRivers’ Illinois sportsbook, 66% of the money bet on the game at Soldier Field was on […]