The outcome was already decided, and Al Michaels knew it. He likes to slide in a gambling reference during his Sunday Night Football telecasts on NBC whenever possible. When the graphic of Odell Beckham Jr. popped up that showed the Giants had scored under 20 points in each of their last seven regular season or postseason games, Michaels took his shot. There were two minutes left in a 19-3 sleeper and Dallas had all but finished off a convincing season-opening triumph in Arlington, Texas, that would end with the same score.
“UNDER being key word,” Michaels quipped, while once-oblivious Cris Collinsworth tried to steer the conversation back to the final kickoff of the night following Dan Bailey’s fourth field goal.
For the Cowboys, it was a triumphant start to the season in a double-revenge game against one of just two teams that handed them regular season defeats in 2016. But for Michaels, it was an exclamation point on a weekend that saw nine of the 13 NFL games played through Sunday end up with an UNDER result. For a full recap of every NFL game, click here.
The favorite/underdog and home/visitor swings weren’t nearly as pronounced. The favorites struggled to win just two of the eight early games on Sunday, and coupled with Kansas City winning outright at New England Thursday, the puppies were poised to have a big weekend. Green Bay, the Rams, Carolina and Dallas all covered as favorites in the late games on Sunday and made the chalk a respectable 6-7 with two Monday night games (Minnesota laying a field goal to New Orleans and Denver laying the same to the Chargers) to get the faves to eight weekly wins.
Five of the seven underdog winners won outright, including Oakland, Jacksonville, Baltimore and Detroit (KC’s win was Thursday). Of the four Sunday dog winners, each of the favorites were represented in the top five of consensus Westgate SuperContest plays. Atlanta was the fifth, and the Falcons didn’t cover, either. Just goes to show that a $1,500 entry fee doesn’t make those people any smarter than those who bet $10 per game.
Miami’s game at home against Tampa Bay was postponed to Week 11 because of Hurricane Irma; both teams were originally on a bye that week. The home teams sit at 7-6 through Sunday’s games as well, with no discernable point spread edges showing in Week 1.
In college, that wasn’t the case. The squares did quite well, not because of how the favorites performed, but because of how the visiting teams did. Generally speaking, football oddsmakers try to entice bets on the visitors by jacking up the home field advantage a little higher than it might be worth. In Week 2 of college play, the guests racked up an impressive 30-15 record against the spread, with Iowa’s three-point win at Iowa State falling on the closing line for a push.
Favorites went 21-24 against the number in the 46 games, with Iowa’s push being included. There were 15 underdog outright winners in addition to the nine others who covered. But UNDERS were also prevalent in college, with 28 of the 46 games staying UNDER the closing total, with one push.
With one week of NFL games in the book and a little larger college sample size, it will be interesting to see what next week brings for both the players and the bookmakers.