Sports betting winners and losers: Chiefs keep winning for bettors, but can they cover 19.5 points?

Frank Schwab
·7-min read

You won’t feel like you’re the sharpest professional walking up to the window to bet the Kansas City Chiefs. But you’ll probably win.

The Chiefs are a machine against the spread. Despite being the NFL’s most successful team since Patrick Mahomes took over as quarterback, and spreads that reflect that, the Chiefs keep covering numbers. They are 14-2 against the spread in their last 16 games. Sportsbooks keep pushing up Chiefs lines, casual bettors keep betting Kansas City, and the defending Super Bowl champs keep blowing teams out.

In Week 8, the Chiefs were more than a touchdown favorite on the road against the Denver Broncos. They won 43-16 and the cover was never in doubt.

“Of course the Chiefs beating the Broncos, that was a big loser for us,” Jeff Stoneback, director of trading for MGM Resorts, said. “The public was all over the Chiefs, just like they are every week, even though the professionals were on the Broncos. That game went from an opening number of 9 all the way down to 7, but the public obviously all over the Chiefs.”

Sometimes the obvious plays are obvious for a reason.

Bettors’ faith in the Chiefs will be tested this weekend. Kansas City opened as 20-point favorites over the awful New York Jets at BetMGM. An NFL spread that high is rare. Since 1978 there have been 13 NFL games with a spread of 20 points or more. The underdog has covered 10 of 13 times.

The spread has ticked down some to 19.5, but it could go back up if the public decides to back the Chiefs again. Why stop now?

The Chiefs are on a great run against the spread. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The Chiefs are on a great run against the spread. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Here are the winners and losers from the sports betting world over the past week:

WINNERS

NFL bettors: The house lost to bettors over the first few weeks of the season, then in October the results started to tilt back in favor of sportsbooks. Week 7, however, was another good one for the public.

Stoneback said BetMGM won on only three sides Sunday: The Pittsburgh Steelers beating the Tennessee Titans, the San Francisco 49ers beating the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals beating the Seattle Seahawks. The rest were losers for the house.

The worst beat for the house in terms of money was the Los Angeles Chargers beating the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. Bettors were all over the Chargers. But the Atlanta Falcons loss stung even more.

By now we know what happened: Instead of taking a knee and kicking a field goal, the Falcons handed off to Todd Gurley, who couldn’t stop from scoring. That gave the Detroit Lions time to drive downfield and score the game-winning touchdown on the final play. Bettors rejoiced, and the house did not.

“That one really hurt,” Stoneback said.

It’s been that kind of NFL season for sportsbooks, not that anyone is feeling for them.

Sunday night NFL underdogs: Seven games isn’t exactly a reliable sample for a trend, but it’s still interesting that underdogs are doing so well on “Sunday Night Football.”

The Arizona Cardinals won a thriller on Sunday night as a 3.5-point underdog. Through seven games, that makes underdogs on “SNF” 6-1 against the spread. It’s not like betting underdogs in a prime-time game is a new strategy. That was especially profitable in college football Thursday night games for years. It’s interesting to see it rolling in the NFL for Sunday nights.

It’s probably a result of random variance, but just in case you want to test it out in Week 8 and are really brave, the Dallas Cowboys should be underdogs on Sunday night at the Philadelphia Eagles (BetMGM hasn’t posted a line because Andy Dalton is in the concussion protocol). Though it’s scary to bet on the Cowboys these days.

Anyone who has turned on the Cowboys: Dallas gets more attention than any other team. When the Cowboys are bad, everyone hears about it all week and bets accordingly.

The Cowboys are bad. Really bad. They aren’t quite the Jets, but they’re in the running for the second-worst team in the NFL. While the Cowboys have a huge fan base that typically bets on them, they must feel that if the season is going down the drain anyway, they might as well profit.

The books got a lot of money on the Washington Football Team last week, and bettors cruised to an easy win.

“The Cowboys used to be a public team, now people like to bet against them,” Stoneback said.

The Cowboys are the only NFL team to have not covered against the spread yet this season. There’s no line yet on their Week 8 game against the Philadelphia Eagles due to Andy Dalton’s injury. It’s safe to guess that no matter what the spread is, the books will need the Eagles to cover.

LOSERS

Relying on kickers: Hopefully the same person who had the Eagles -3 for the first half last Thursday didn’t also have the Browns on Sunday.

The heartbreak of taking a bad beat on a missed chip shot kick is real, and it happened twice in Week 7. First, a bettor had $250,000 on the Eagles to cover 3 points in the first half against the New York Giants, and the half ended with Jake Elliott trying a 29-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 6-point lead. Yeah, he missed. That’s a push and not a loss, but it must have felt like a loss.

Browns bettors probably had it worse on Sunday. There was a rush of excitement when Cleveland, who was favored by 3, 3.5 or 4 points depending when you bet them, scored with 11 seconds left to take a 30-27 lead. The Browns just needed the extra point to .... oh no.

Someone bet $120,000 on the Browns -3 at BetMGM. Another rough push. And a bad beat for those who got a bad number on the Browns.

Never trust kickers.

World Series bad beats: There were plenty of opportunities to be frustrated by baseball last week.

Like Game 3 when the Rays were down to their last strike in a 6-1 game, and Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena broke the hearts of anyone who had under 7.5.

Game 4 was its own special kind of bad beat for Los Angeles Dodgers backers. For the third time in World Series history there was a walkoff hit from a team that was trailing and down to its final out. And it happened with a comedy of errors.

That Rays win hasn’t ruined the many bettors holding tickets on the Dodgers to win the World Series. Yet. The Dodgers are a big liability for BetMGM because of the volume of bets on the Dodgers to win and some large wagers on them. Last week BetMGM took another $500,000 bet on the Dodgers to win it all. The books are rooting hard for the Rays to win the series.

Los Angeles took a 3-2 lead in the series and are now big favorites to win the title. The Dodgers are -556 favorites to win the World Series at BetMGM. But if the Rays win the final two games, that Game 4 loss will linger for a long, long time.

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