This past weekend, the NFL Divisional Playoffs were held. The results of the games show, once again, that the betting lines don’t always get it right. The sportsbooks aren’t complaining, though, as they kept a lot of the sports betting money that had been placed on the favorites to win.
Sportsbooks, Bettors Surprised by NFL Results
The first three Divisional Playoffs games were won by underdogs. Not only that, but they were also the visiting teams. In an NFL rarity, all three of these games were decided by a field goal as the clock was winding down, producing a final score separated by only three points.
However, the dramatic endings were just warm-ups for Sunday’s main event between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. The lead was exchanged three times after the final two-minute warning before Kansas City tied the game off a 49-yard Harrison Butker field goal. That put the game into overtime.
The Chiefs went on to win after a strong offensive drive, but it was a win that almost wasn’t. Still, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are advancing to the AFC championship battle once again.
Red Rock Resort’s sportsbook director Chuck Esposito was quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) as stating, “It was one of the most exciting divisional rounds ever. The last two minutes of the Chiefs-Bills was arguably one of the best games and best finishes in the history of the league. From the booking side of it, there were dramatic swings. Our blood pressure was really high.”
Underdogs Become Overachievers
Kansas City’s victory was a huge plus for the sportsbooks. It denied many bettors a four-team moneyline parlay bet that would have paid around 40-1.
Las Vegas sportsbooks enjoyed one of the biggest wins ever Saturday in the NFL playoffs. Both number-1 seeds lost. The Cincinnati Bengals closed as 4-point underdogs with +180 on the moneyline. They beat the favorited Tennessee Titans, 19-16. The 49ers, at +6 on the spread and +220 on the moneyline before the game, took down the Packers, 13-10.
Jeff Stoneback, MGM Resorts’ director of trading, told the LVRJ that Saturday was “probably the most we’ve ever won in a playoff round. The public was all over the Packers and Titans. We had big wins on both games.”
One BetMGM bettor lost a $550,000 bet on the Titans. Westgate SuperBook won big on the Bengals after Evan McPherson’s 52-yard kick.
SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay added, “It’s hard to believe that the Bengals and Titans were one of the biggest decisions. But they really loaded up on Tennessee. The outright win by the Bengals was one of the bigger wins of the year for us.”
Sportsbooks Continue Their Run
Sportsbooks closed out 2021 on a high note, scoring big in November and December. They’re now getting the new year off on the right foot as record betting takes place. Last year was a great year overall, with over $52.7 billion wagered, according to Morning Consult.
That was twice the amount spent a year earlier. At that rate, and with new sportsbook states coming online, the money will flow even more freely.
Despite the strong finish at the end of the year, sportsbooks weren’t the big winners in 2021. The data from Morning Consult indicates that they pocketed around $4 billion. That’s a significant amount but, with most sportsbooks having spent millions on startup costs, licenses, and promotions to attract customers, the net take would have been significantly lower.