Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott wasn’t ruled out officially until roughly 90 minutes prior to kickoff for the Sunday night game against the Minnesota Vikings. However, based on the betting that had taken place earlier in the week, bookmakers had been convinced Prescott wasn’t going to play for days.
The Cowboys began last week as the favorites over the Vikings. That changed during a two-hour stretch on Thursday that saw the line move from Cowboys -1.5 to Vikings -2.5 at sportsbooks around the nation. Influential bettors had begun to bet on the Vikings. The SuperBook, a longtime, respected sportsbook in Las Vegas that has expanded into Colorado and New Jersey, moved the Cowboys-Vikings line to pick ’em just after 5 p.m. Thursday.
The SuperBook’s bookmaking team attempted to stay ahead of the growing interest on Minnesota, but still attracted a wager on the Vikings at pick ’em from a betting account in New Jersey that executive director John Murray considers sharp.
“We know that player is someone who is generally ahead of the market on injury information,” Murray said. “When we saw that bet, we decided to shade the game as if Prescott wasn’t playing or would be limited if he did play.”
Jeff Stoneback, director of BetMGM sportsbooks in Nevada, said he started seeing larger wagers on the Vikings late in the week and by Sunday afternoon he believed that Prescott would not play.
“Based upon the betting, I would say he’s out,” Stoneback told ESPN on Sunday, hours before Prescott was officially announced inactive. “We do have a decent-sized decision on that game right now. We’re needing the Cowboys. The larger money has come in on the Vikings, but it’s almost a two-to-one ticket count on the Cowboys. The public is still betting them Dak or no Dak.”
The line closed at Vikings -4.5. Dallas won 20-16, behind backup quarterback Cooper Rush, and improved to 7-0 against the spread this season. The Cowboys are the fourth team since 2000 to cover the spread in seven straight games to start the season.
• After an unheard-of three straight losing Sundays, sportsbooks got revenge this week, and in a big way. “This has been our best Sunday of the season to date,” Murray of the SuperBook said. “I’m sure your readers will be relieved to hear that this weekend will save the month of October for us and keep us in diamonds and furs. The Bengals losing outright was our best game of the day and maybe our best result of the season to date.”
• The story was the same at sportsbooks around the nation. They cleaned up, especially on the Jets’ 34-31 upset of the Bengals. Cincinnati opened as 3.5-point favorites, before Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson went down with a knee injury. The line grew to Cincinnati -11 by kickoff, making it the biggest upset of the season point-spread wise and producing a giant win for the sportsbooks.
• The Bengals’ money line also was the most popular bet at sportsbook PointsBet, where the Jets’ outright upset resulted in the second-largest win of the season, behind only the Patriots covering the spread against the Buccaneers.
• The Bengals attracted roughly five time as much money as the Jets at BetMGM books in Nevada. “The Jets winning straight-up was huge for us,” Stoneback said.
• At BetRivers sportsbooks, for every money-line bet on the Jets, there were 16 on the Bengals.
• In Las Vegas sportsbook Circa’s NFL survivor pool, 871 entries — just over 40% of the remaining contestants –picked the Bengals this week, the most of any team.
• Largest reported bets by Caesars Sportsbook:
$520,000 on Bengals -9.5 (loss)
$520,000 on Broncos -3 (win)
$520,000 on Browns -3.5 (loss)
$500,000 on 49ers -3.5 (win)
$500,000 on Colts +100 money-line (loss)
• The Bengals were the first double-digit favorite to lose straight-up this season.
• For some reason, the betting public fell for the underdog Detroit Lions against the Philadelphia Eagles. On Sunday morning at FanDuel, 80% of the money wagered was on the Lions plus the points. The Eagles won 44-6.
“The public was betting on the Lions. That was a surprise,” Stoneback of BetMGM said. “I looked today and the ticket count discrepancy was like 2-to-1 on the Lions.”
• Caesars Sportsbook began taking in-person bets at its Louisiana properties Sunday, including at Harrah’s New Orleans, where just down the street the Saints were hosting the Buccaneers. According to Caesars vice president of trading Craig Mucklow, there was nearly “30 times” as much money bet on the Saints as there was on the Buccaneers in Louisiana at his sportsbooks. New Orleans beat the Bucs 36-27.
• The Rams, who closed as 16.5-point favorites over the Texans, raced out to a 38-0 lead at the end of the third quarter, only to be outscored 22-0 in the fourth quarter and settled for a 38-22 win.
College football notables
• If you’ve bet long enough, you’ve likely experienced what happened Saturday night in the Florida State-Clemson game. But it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
Florida State, a 9.5-point underdog who trailed 24-20 with seconds left, attempted multiple desperate laterals after a completion that ended with a fumble being recovered for a touchdown by Clemson. Final score: Clemson 30, Florida 20.
The last play not only covered the spread but also pushed the game over the total of 47.5. At Caesars Sportsbook, 66% of the bets and 62% of the money wagered was on the Seminoles.
It was the first game in which Clemson covered the spread all season.
• The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday. Here are the current odds of the top contenders to win the national championship at Caesars Sportsbook:
Ohio State +550
Michigan State +4,000
• Opening lines for this week’s notable games via Las Vegas sportsbook Circa Sports:
Ohio State (-16, 68.5) at Nebraska
Wake Forest at North Carolina (-2, 78.5)
Missouri at Georgia (-39, 61.5)
Oklahoma State (-3, 57.5) at West Virginia
Michigan State (-3, 57.5) at Purdue
Auburn at Texas A&M (-6, 52.5)
LSU at Alabama (-29, 63.5)
Oregon (-7, 51.5) at Washington
What were the odds?
18-1: Crystal Palace’s odds to beat Man City on Saturday in the three-way line at DraftKings. Crystal Palace won 2-0.
35-1: The Lions’ opening odds to finish the regular season at 0-17 at Caesars Sportsbook. Detroit dropped to 0-7 with Sunday’s blowout loss to the Eagles.
14-1: The Cowboys’ odds to win the Super Bowl last week, when a bettor in Michigan with DraftKings placed a $100,000 bet on Dallas that would pay a net of $1.4 million. “We got a little liability on them now,” DraftKings sportsbook director Johnny Avello said.