The New Orleans Saints were a 5.5-point road favorite against the Atlanta Falcons to open the NFL season. It became obvious rather early on that they weren't going to cover the spread. The Falcons entered halftime with a 16-7 lead. Not only were the Falcons looking good for bettors who took them to cover 5.5-points as an underdog, they looked like a real threat to win the game outright.
Thankfully for one BetMGM bettor, that ultimately didn't happen. A bettor risked $100,000 on New Orleans to win the game outright as a -225 favorite on the moneyline. The bet ended up paying out $44,000 but it wasn't without some agita and an increased heart rate.
Will Lutz knocked home a field goal early in the third quarter for the Saints to cut Atlanta's lead down to one possession. However, Marcus Mariota scored a rushing touchdown and then Younghoe Koo kicked his fourth field goal of the game for Atlanta. Atlanta was up 26-10 in the fourth quarter and the bettor was probably tempted to rip up their ticket.
However, Jameis Winston and the Saints answered quickly. Winston found Michael Thomas in the end zone for his first regular season touchdown since 2019. A two-point conversion attempt was successful, as Winston found rookie Chris Olave. Suddenly, it was a one possession game.
The Saints' defense held and forced a Falcons punt. Winston moved the ball down the field with chunk plays to Thomas, Olave and Jarvis Landry. On first-and-goal at the nine, Winston once again found Thomas in the end zone, who made a beautiful one-handed catch against A.J. Terrell for the touchdown. However, a two-point conversion attempt from Mark Ingram was unsuccessful, and the Saints still trailed by two with under four minutes remaining.
Things got dicey for New Orleans as the Falcons' moved the chains on the ground with Mariota and Cordarrelle Patterson. Atlanta got another first down via penalty right after the two-minute warning. Facing a third-and-one, Atlanta was just one yard away from icing the game and starting this bettor's season off with a $100,000 loss. However, Marcus Mariota fumbled the snap on third down and then the Falcons decided to punt rather than go for it on fourth-and-one from New Orleans' 42.
The Saints got the ball back at their own 20 yard line with 48 seconds left and no timeouts. Winston found Landry for a massive 40-yard gain to get the ball to Atlanta's 40. However, Winston was called for intentional grounding on a spike pushing the Saints back. On the next play, he found Juwan Johnson for 17 yards to set up a Will Lutz 51-yard field goal. Lutz drilled the kick, the Falcons didn't have enough time to do anything offensively and New Orleans survived. It was a thrilling comeback, but not nearly enough for bettors who laid the points with the Saints. However, for one bettor, it was enough to make them $44,000 richer. It probably didn't come as easy as they expected though. If the Saints lost, it would have been pain. Pain everywhere.
Big favorites struggled
New Orleans wasn't the only team laying a big number in Week 1 that struggled mightily. While the Saints ended up getting the win, other big favorites weren't as lucky. Overall, teams laying 5 points or more on Sunday went just 2-6 against the spread and only 4-3-1 straight up.
Kansas City and Baltimore took care of their bettors, as they had no issues with Arizona and the New York Jets, respectively. For those wondering what to make of Arizona this season, Week 1 lended credence to the idea that the second half of last season was more representative. As for the Jets, there was hope they would at least be competitive this season. Week 1 with Joe Flacco at quarterback against a very good team probably isn't worth an overreaction, but it wasn't an ideal performance for Gang Green.
One of the bigger upsets of the day came in Chicago, where the Bears beat the 49ers 19-10 as a 6.5-point home underdog. The weather was disgusting, which makes it tough to react too strongly, but it wasn't a good start for the Trey Lance era. It's hard to criticize Lance for not being able to overcome 12 penalties in a monsoon, but the Bears winning this game and cashing at +240 on the moneyline was certainly a surprise. It certainly ruined a lot of survivor pool entries and moneyline parlays.
The Cincinnati Bengals closed as 7-point home favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they ended up losing outright as well. Joe Burrow had five turnovers for Cincinnati, but that isn't getting as much attention due to the kicking failures of the Bengals in the final few minutes. Evan McPherson, the Bengals' kicker, became a household name in the playoffs last season. However, he wasn't able to overcome an injury to long-snapper Clark Harris which impacted the operation. McPherson missed a game winning extra point as regulation expired and then missed a 29-yard field goal in overtime. Chris Boswell hit the upright on a 55-yard field goal in overtime before he redeemed himself with a 53-yarder later in the extra session to secure the win for Pittsburgh as a +240 moneyline underdog.
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2022
The Indianapolis Colts didn't lose as a 7-point favorite, but they didn't win either. Houston had a 20-3 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Indianapolis stormed back to tie the game thanks to touchdowns from Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr in the final eight minutes. Rodrigo Blankenship missed a 42-yard field goal in overtime and the game ended in a tie. Houston was always the right side spread wise, but anyone who had the Texans at +260 on the moneyline is probably a little miffed they blew the lead. At least they got their money back.
Last year's No. 1 seed in the AFC was the Tennessee Titans. While a lot of people were projecting a down year for the Titans, they still had them beating the Giants in Week 1. Tennessee was a 5.5-point favorite. The Titans started strong, entering halftime with a 13-0 lead. However, New York tied the game thanks to touchdowns from Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard in the third quarter. Tennessee took a 20-13 lead late in the third quarter and that score held until the final 1:09. Daniel Jones found fullback Chris Myarick for a touchdown and then in his coaching debut, Brian Daboll flashed his cojones as he decided to go for two. A tremendous effort from Barkley converted the attempt and the Giants took a 21-20 lead. However, the Titans worked the ball into field goal range. Unfortunately for them and anyone who had the Titans on the moneyline, Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard attempt as time expired. New York was +200 on the moneyline.
A $100 parlay on the Giants, Bears and Steelers all to win would have paid out $3,368. However, Titans, 49ers and Bengals parlays were probably a lot more popular.
Late spread drama
If you had Philadelphia -5.5, Jacksonville +3, or Carolina on the moneyline you're probably a little annoyed this morning.
The Eagles opened up a 38-21 lead in the third quarter and looked well on their way to covering as a 5.5-point favorite against the Lions. However, Detroit scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to cut the deficit to three points. D.J. Chark's touchdown with under four minutes remaining put Detroit within the number and the Eagles then ran out the clock to secure a 3-point victory, but no cover. A bettor at BetMGM wagered $125,000 to win $113,750 on the Lions as a 5.5-point underdog. The late touchdowns from Detroit made them a happy person.
Bettors who had the Jaguars at +3 were probably feeling good when James Robinson scored to put Jacksonville up by eight points in the fourth quarter. Carson Wentz found Terry McLaurin for a 49-yard score to cut the deficit to two, but the Commanders failed on the two-point conversion. Washington got the ball back late, but rather than being conservative and attempting a field goal, Wentz found rookie Jahan Dotson for a 24-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion to J.D. McKissic was successful, and Washington ended up winning by six points and covering the spread.
Elsewhere, it looked like Baker Mayfield was going to get his revenge on the Cleveland Browns in storybook fashion. Mayfield was dreadful in the first half but led three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to erase a 13-point Cleveland lead. The Panthers kicked a field goal with 1:17 left to take their first lead of the game. However, a questionable roughing the passer call and then a potentially missed fake-spike turned spike intentional grounding call was enough for Cleveland to attempt a game winning kick. Rookie Cade York kicked a game-winner from 58-yards in his first NFL game. While the spread wasn't in question, anytime a game has a spread under 3 points, a lot of people bet the moneyline instead. At BetMGM, 79% of the money was on Carolina to win the game outright at -125.
This was good from like 85. Cade York legend pic.twitter.com/xAbBfnbRFn
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 11, 2022
If you had the Raiders at +3.5, you were a 2-point conversion attempt away from covering. Instead, the Chargers got the stop and won by five points. It was certainly a play bettors were watching intently, but as Derek Carr's pass to Hunter Renfrow fell incomplete, Chargers bettors smiled.
Unders rule the day
If you include the Thursday night game between the Rams and Bills, unders are 10-5 so far in Week 1 of the NFL season.
Four games had totals in the 50s, but only one of those went over the total. Oddsmakers projected shootouts in LA-Buffalo, LA-Las Vegas and Tampa Bay-Dallas, but none of them delivered as all three went under the total. The only projected shootout to go over was Kansas City-Arizona, as the teams combined for 65 points, pushing the game well over the total of 54.
In terms of totals, the closest calls came in Cincinnati and Tennessee. If either the Steelers or Bengals scored a touchdown in overtime, the game would have went over the total of 44.5-points. Instead, it was decided by a field goal and the game fell on 43 points. In Tennessee, if Randy Bullock converted his game-winning field goal attempt, bettors would have pushed on the total of 44. Instead, under bettors got the win.
Primetime unders are 2-0 so far this season. The total for Monday night's game between Denver and Seattle is set at 44-points.