Upsets Fuel Sportsbook Success in First Weekend of NFL


The Green Bay Packers were among the teams to suffer defeat in the first games of the new NFL season over the weekend, with underdog victories leading to big wins for sportsbooks across the US. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

NFL makes its triumphant return

The NFL finally returned last week with the first game of the new season between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. The previous Super Bowl champions predictably claimed victory in their first game, but plenty of other unexpected results over the weekend meant big wins for US sportsbooks.

3.5-point favorites the Packers took a fierce beating

Star Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has returned for what could be his last season with the team this year, but he might want to forget his game against New Orleans over the weekend. Sportsbooks won big as 3.5-point favorites Packers took a fierce beating from the Saints.

The majority of bettors lost out again as 6.5-point underdogs the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Buffalo Bills in a shocking 23-16 result. Many also underestimated Arizona and the LA Chargers, who claimed victory in their games against the Tennessee Titans and Washington.

Added to this, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers cut it closer than expected against their respective opponents, with gamblers paying the price.

A bad day at the office for Rodgers

Before the season began, US sportsbooks had the Green Bay Packers at around +1200 to win this year’s Super Bowl. That made them fourth favorites to take the title, just behind the Chiefs, Bucs, and Bills. However, any bettors who took that price may be regretting their decision after Sunday’s performance.

They lost 38-3 to the New Orleans Saints in the first game of their season, with the team’s poor performance personified by Rodgers. The reigning MVP failed to make an impact on the game, throwing 133 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

that entire team looked like they just got off the beach”

As 3.5-point favorites, Green Bay’s poor performance played into the hands of sportsbooks. Speaking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ), Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay expressed surprise over the level of Packers support. “The Saints aren’t that bad,” he commented. “A lot of people were talking about Rodgers being back. But that entire team looked like they just got off the beach.”

Despite them taking a thumping over the weekend, sportsbooks are still fairly confident the Packers can give it a good go this season. DraftKings and FanDuel are both offering odds of +1400 for the team to win this season’s Super Bowl.

Upsets bump sportsbook profits

The Green Bay Packers were not the only favorites to suffer defeat over the weekend. As 6.5-point underdogs against the Buffalo Bills, the Pittsburgh Steelers caused the biggest upset by ultimately winning 23-16. They managed to overcome a 10-0 halftime deficit to take victory, costing some bettors highly.

According to Kornegay, this upset provided Las Vegas’s largest sportsbook with one of its biggest wins in years. “There was so much support for the Bills across the board, including money lines, teasers, and laying points,” the Westgate SuperBook exec told LVRJ over the weekend.

Similarly, the Arizona Cardinals and LA Chargers added more fuel to the fire by winning their respective games. Arizona (+3) beat Tennessee 38-13, while the Chargers (+2) defeated the Washington Football Team 20-16. Thomas Gable, sportsbook director at The Borgata in New Jersey, labeled the Saints and Chargers wins as two of the weekend’s best results for the casino.

Sportsbooks have priced the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals at odds of around +3500 to win the Super Bowl this year. Meanwhile, the LA Chargers are at +2800 with DraftKings and FanDuel.

Close shaves for the Chiefs and 49ers

The Kansas City Chiefs may be favorites to lift the Lombardi Trophy this season, but they certainly had a close call in the first game. The team was losing 22-10 to the Cleveland Browns at halftime on Sunday, before turning it around in the second half to secure a 33-29 victory.

The Chiefs not covering again worked out well.”

The Chiefs were 5.5-point favorites to take the win at the beginning of the game, meaning sportsbooks lucked out on the final score. Speaking with LVRJ, MGM resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said: “The Chiefs not covering again worked out well. Hopefully that trend continues.”

In a similar fashion, the Detroit Lions paid sportsbooks a favor over the weekend in a late comeback charge against the San Francisco 49ers. Despite ultimately losing, they scored two touchdowns and two two-point conversions in the game’s final minutes to bring the score to 41-33.

The 49ers closed as 9.5-point favorites, meaning the late Detroit charge was bad news for any bettors who locked in wagers at the last minute. BetRivers sportsbook manager Zach Slouch told VSiN that the 49ers took 80% of the tickets, with 83% of bettors laying the points. “[The] Lions backdoor push was a pretty brutal push for the public,” he said.



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