Season win totals are usually a break-even or losing proposition for books.
But with four weeks left, 2011 is shaping up better than expected for the house.
“Looks like we may end up in the black this year,” MGM Mirage sportsbook manager Jeff Stoneback told Covers.com
. “Usually they’re bad for us. If we break even, we’re pretty happy. It’s something that professionals really jump on.
“With the lockout and the short camps, it’s been a very odd year.”
We talked to MGM Mirage and Caesars Palace to find out the biggest decisions for and against them. We also highlight the teams with major cash decisions pending.
BETTORS’ BIGGEST WIN
Indianapolis Colts –
Under 10: As speculation about Peyton Manning’s health intensified in training camp, bettors pounded the under. The book took the total down when it was announced Manning could miss the start of the season. This turned out to be the season’s biggest laugher.BETTORS’ LIKELY WINS
Detroit Lions – Over 7.5, 8: If the 7-5 Lions regroup and take care of the 2-10 Vikings on Sunday, they’ll cash for players who jumped on the opening line of 7.5 wins. Detroit then would need to win at Oakland or beat visiting San Diego to cash for latecomers. Lions backers don’t want this to come down to the regular-season finale at Green Bay.
Kansas City Chiefs – Under 8: Injuries helped bettors’ cause here, and the schedule should clinch it. K.C. (5-7) visits the Jets and hosts Green Bay before concluding against Oakland and Denver. Despite the Chiefs’ grittiness, it’s hard to see Todd Haley’s bunch winning three of four.
New England Patriots – Over 11.5: The 9-3 Pats need to win three more to cash for bettors, and the schedule isn’t too daunting: at Washington, at Denver, vs. Miami, vs. Buffalo. Stoneback assumes this one will be a loser for MGM Mirage.BOOK’S BIGGEST WINS
Cincinnati Bengals – Under 7.5, 7, 6.5, 6, 5.5: “This is by far our biggest decision,” Stoneback said, recalling how bettors would not lay off the under no matter how far the total fell. “We need them to win one more.” Rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green delivered for the book. With games left against St. Louis and Arizona, Cincy looks like a lock for 8 wins. This is also a big win for Caesars.
San Diego Chargers – Over 10, 10.5: Over bettors threw out their tickets when San Diego lost its sixth straight to fall to 4-7. Caesars also relished the Chargers’ collapse.
San Francisco 49ers – Under 7.5: Another one that ended early. Lesson: Don’t bet against Jim Harbaugh.
Green Bay Packers – Under 11.5: Not smart to get in Aaron Rodgers’ way.IN THE BALANCE
Chicago Bears – Under 8.5, 8: This opened at 9.5, but most of the money came in after the total dropped. Bettors got gifts when Jay Cutler and Matt Forte went down, but the 7-5 Bears still have three winnable games left: at Denver, vs. Seattle, at Minnesota. (Winning at Green Bay on Christmas doesn’t seem plausible). Could be a push for under bettors who acted late.CAESARS PALACE
BETTORS’ BIGGEST WIN
Denver Broncos – Over 6: Denver was 1-4 and dead in the water until Tim Tebow took over and cashed for bettors with a 6-1 run.BETTORS’ LIKELY WIN
Detroit Lions – Over 7.5: Bettors loved the Lions’ 4-0 finish last season and their draft. “Everyone came in over,” said Todd Fuhrman, senior race and sports analyst at Caesars.
BOOK’S BIGGEST WINS
Philadelphia Eagles – Over 10.5: The “Dream Team” hype turned out to be a boon for Caesars. “They kept betting over, with reckless abandon,” Fuhrman said.
Green Bay Packers – Under 12: Caesars got a lot of action on this total because it was the rare book that posted 12, not 11.5. “I was more than happy to write those tickets,” Fuhrman said. “We knew we were going to be the highest out there.”
Oakland Raiders – Under 6.5: Betting against the Raiders has proven profitable for a decade, but wins over the Jets and Houston gave this one to the house early.
BOOK’S LIKELY WIN
Cleveland Browns – Over 6.5: With two games left against Pittsburgh and one vs. Baltimore, the 4-8 Browns have little shot to surpass this total. “We need that under,” Fuhrman said. “People came in over because there was a lot of hype about Colt McCoy turning the corner.” That seems like a long time ago.IN THE BALANCE
Arizona Cardinals – Over 7: Remember when many thought Kevin Kolb would be a godsend in Arizona? Bettors liked the Cardinals to improve significantly from their 4-12 finish last season, and played the over. This one was looking good for Caesars until Dallas botched the end of regulation Sunday. Now the Cards (5-7) have a shot to cash for bettors. “Much to my chagrin, Dallas ices its own kicker,” Fuhrman said. With home games left against Cleveland and Seattle, Arizona could easily push this total.
Chicago Bears – Under 8.5: Fuhrman is cheering for the Bears to regain their footing.
All in all, season win totals “are going to be pretty balanced for us,” Fuhrman said. “It all could come down to a couple of swing games.”
A couple weeks ago, Chicago was 7-3 and one of the NFL’s hottest teams. The Bears had won five in a row straight up and against the spread, and looked like a sure bet to make the playoffs.
Injuries to their two top offensive players changed everything. When Chicago scored 3 points at home in a loss to Kansas City, the public jumped ship. Now the Bears are getting 3.5 points at Denver – a spread that would have been a Pick-‘em a couple weeks ago.
“Two weeks ago they were on the road at Oakland, people were all over the Bears and they laid an egg,” Stoneback said. “Then they come home against a K.C. team playing poorly and lay an egg again. Now Denver is the hot team.”
The Broncos have won and covered five straight behind Tim Tebow and stout defense.
Bears coach Lovie Smith gave backup QB Caleb Hanie a vote of confidence despite his six INTs and inability to throw downfield. Smith said Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell will share carries while Forte heals from a knee sprain.
Two-thirds of Covers Consensus
bettors are backing Denver.
“The luster has worn off Chicago,” Fuhrman said. “It’s amazing how fast that happens, especially when you have key injuries. The Bears offense has done nothing the last two weeks and Hanie turns it over way too much.
“If this defense doesn’t score and the special teams doesn’t deliver,” he added, “you’re talking about major issues.”