UPDATE: The Vikings lost on Monday night, so the record was not broken.
Sportsbooks do not generally like it when the favorites win. Yes, their goal is to set a line so that the action is split on both sides, but the public still tends to like the favorites. Why? It’s just easier for casual bettors to identify who they think is going to win and then bet on that team, even if the line makes it make more sense to go with the underdog. This past weekend, then, was not one that the books loved, as it was a historic one for the favorites in the NFL.
Favorites have covered in 12 out of the 15 games so far in Week 12, which ties the Super Bowl-era record for the most 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 the customers,” Craig Mucklow, vice president of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN.com.
It didn’t look like it would be a record-setting week at the outset. The first Thanksgiving game was the Green Bay Packers at the Detroit Lions. An improving, yet below-average team against the one of the best teams in the league, and on the road, no less. Yet, the Packers, 8.5-point underdogs, dominated the game from the start and won outright. So the sportsbooks got off to a great start, especially because it was one of the most heavily bet games of the season.
But then the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers romped as favorites and it kept going from there. The Miami Dolphins whipped the New York Jets in the Black Friday game and the Sunday favorites went 8-2 against the spread. The only underdogs to beat the spread – and they both won outright – were the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons.
If anyone was aware of the historic nature of the NFL Week 12, they were probably sweating the late afternoon game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills. Philly was a 2.5-point favorite at home, but were losing for most of the game. They took they lead briefly in the 4th quarter before the Bills came roaring back and needed a last-minute 59-yard field goal in terrible conditions to send the game to overtime.
Buffalo scored first in OT, so not only did the Eagles need a touchdown on their next possession to win it, but to also cover the spread. And they did just that, scoring a touchdown with just a couple minutes left to win by three.