Notable bets is a regular Monday roundup of wagers — some sharper than others — made recently at sportsbooks across the nation.
The bulk of the early action was on the underdog Chiefs, who were getting 3 or 3.5 points, depending on the book.
Ed Salmons, head football oddsmaker at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, called Kansas City a “square dog,” a term referring to when the betting public flocks toward an underdog.
The public flocked the wrong way on Saturday and Sunday, as sportsbooks chalked up another winning weekend, their second in a row after a rough start to November.
Here are the notable bets from the week:
• As of Sunday night at the SuperBook, there were six times as many bets on the Chiefs as there were on the Rams, and three times as much money had been wagered on Kansas City as had been bet on L.A.
• The largest bet MGM sportsbooks had taken on the game as of Sunday night was $90,000 on the Chiefs +3.5 (-120). “We’ll probably draw some more [big bets] tomorrow,” Jay Rood, vice president of MGM race and sports, said.
• “Really, really good handle,” Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at the South Point, said of the Chiefs-Rams action. “I’m not sure who I’ll need at this point, but business is very good.”
• The over/under on the Monday night game had ticked down to 63 at several books (opened 64), but was still the highest for an NFL game since at least 1986, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
• “We had some pretty decent-sized under bets,” Andrews of the South Point said. “But, of course, the public is always going to bet over.”
• The SuperBook was holding its total at 63.5 as of Sunday night. “The wiseguys are trying to push [the total] down, as they always do,” Salmons said. “So far, the public play’s been all on the over, and we know we’re going to get more of that tomorrow. So, we’re willing to gamble against the wiseguys at the higher number, just because we know what the public is going to come in with tomorrow.”
“That was a terrible result for us,” Salmons said. “But that’s how it goes. He bet over 52, and we move to 52.5, when the market was 51.5 and no one wanted it. And then the next time we looked it was 54.”
• “Solid day with most of the early games working in our favor,” Bill Sattler, director of specialty games for Caesars Entertainment, said. “Lions covering and winning was best decision, and Eagles not showing up was worst decision.”
• The SuperBook took a “decent-size” bet on the Saints to win the Super Bowl at 5-2 odds. The book moved the New Orleans’ odds to +180, making the Saints the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
• Station Casinos in Nevada reported a solid winning Sunday, with big wins on the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, a pair of underdogs who pulled out victories against the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
• The SuperBook took a $40,000 bet on the Falcons -3, and another player bet $20,000 on the Falcons -3.5. Dallas won 22-19 on a last-second field goal.
• After the Green Bay Packers‘ 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, teams from the Central and Eastern Time Zones are 0-9 straight-up and 0-7-2 against the spread when traveling to the Pacific Time Zone for a Thursday game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Seahawks were 2.5- or 3-point favorites at most sportsbooks.
• “No complaints here,” Andrews said of the South Point’s results on Sunday.
• “[It] was our best Saturday of the season,” John Murray, sportsbook director for the SuperBook, said.
• Alabama failed to cover the first-half spread for the first time this season Saturday against The Citadel. On Friday, the South Point sportsbook opened the Crimson Tide as 33-point favorites in the first half. The line closed at 40. Alabama and The Citadel were tied 10-10 at halftime.
“All the money was on Bama,” the South Point’s Andrews said. “That was one of our best games of the day. I don’t know that we got 100 bucks on Citadel in the first half.”
• At William Hill’s sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey, 92 percent of the money bet on the first-half line was on the Crimson Tide.
• With the game tied 10-10 at halftime, the SuperBook made Alabama a 28.5-point favorite in the second half. The Crimson Tide quickly pulled away, covering the 28.5-point second half line and finishing off Citadel 50-17. “Everyone was betting The Citadel +28.5 in the second half,” Murray said. “We did well on that.”
• A bettor at the SuperBook placed a $20,000 bet on the over (48.5) in the Michigan State-Nebraska game and then bet another $20,000 on the over in the second half. Nebraska won 9-6.
• A bettor at the SuperBook also placed a $30,000 bet on the Syracuse-Notre Dame over (65). The Fighting Irish won 36-3.
• Notable Week 13 opening lines at Caesars Palace:
Michigan -3.5 at Ohio State
Auburn at Alabama -24
Notre Dame -10 at USC
Oklahoma -2.5 at West Virginia
Florida -4.5 at Florida State
South Carolina at Clemson -25.5
Georgia Tech at Georgia -17
Washington at Washington State -3
Odds and ends
• New Jersey sports betting: $260.7 million was wagered at New Jersey sportsbooks in October, with $174.3 of it being bet online. New Jersey books won $34.2 million in October.
• Pennsylvania sports betting: The first legal sportsbook in Pennsylvania opened last week at the Hollywood Casino outside of Harrisburg. Pennsylvania is the sixth state to open a sportsbook since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal statute that had restricted sports betting to primarily Nevada. Rhode Island is expecting to open sports betting in the coming weeks.
• Tennis: A bettor at the SuperBook placed a $30,000 wager on Sabine Lisicki in the final of the Taipei Open. Lisicki lost to No. 2 seed Luksika Kumkhum on Sunday.
Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin believes he’s hit ‘rock bottom’ this season
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Having caught only 20 passes for 302 yards through 10 games, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin believes he has reached “rock bottom” this season as he prepares for unrestricted free agency in March.
“It’s just a bad season,” Benjamin said Monday as the Bills, with a 3-7 record, returned from their bye week. “It is what it is. Just football, man. You have good seasons, you have bad seasons. I’ve had successful seasons in this league. I’ll have plenty more. For some reason, it’s just not the year.”
Some fans in Buffalo have criticized Benjamin on social media for his performance this season, as well as for a perceived lack of effort that Benjamin has previously disputed. Benjamin said Monday he feels “bombarded” and has avoided social media.
“I can’t really get on there and really have fun with it no more because they (have) kind of taken the fun out of that,” he said. “(I’ve been) just bombarded by the fans and bombarded by the people. The way of our life, I guess, right now.”
Benjamin, a former first-round pick selected No. 28 overall by the Carolina Panthers in 2014, is on pace for a career-low 32 catches for 483 yards this season.
“This is as low as my low (has been),” he said.
Playing a season-low 50 percent of snaps in the Bills’ win Nov. 11 over the New York Jets, Benjamin was held without a catch on three targets. One incompletion came on a pass from quarterback Matt Barkley when Benjamin appeared to make a leaping catch in the end zone but could not keep the ball secure before he hit the ground.
“You think about the people (who are) already sending you messages, before you even look at them,” Benjamin said of the missed opportunity at a touchdown. “You feel like you let your hometown down. You feel like you’re letting your family down because I need those balls.
“Every ball, I pride myself on catching it, bringing it down. Even those balls, I want to come down with it. I’m tougher on myself than anybody. I’m the first guy to criticize myself and the first guy to get on myself about anything. Unfortunately I didn’t come down with them, the balls that we needed, the balls that I needed. It’s football, and you just got to move on from it.”
The Panthers traded Benjamin to the Bills in October 2017 for third- and seventh-round picks in the 2018 draft. The Bills are paying Benjamin a fully guaranteed $8.5 million salary this season as part of the fifth-year option in his rookie contract exercised by Carolina.
Benjamin will become a free agent next offseason after several other receivers in the 2014 draft — including Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry — have already received long-term deals.
“It’s definitely going to be a fresh start,” Benjamin said of the upcoming offseason. “Once I find a team, or if I’m still in here in Buffalo, whatever, I’m just going to keep pushing. I learned a lot about myself. Just keep going. That mentality, just keep pushing. Once you hit rock bottom, I guess, it’s only up from there, right?”
Benjamin admitted Monday he dwelled earlier this season on not yet having received a similar contract to his 2014 draft counterparts.
“I think coming into the season that was hard,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie. It was always on my mind. I was trying to block it out and just have fun with the game. But at times, I was dropping balls and I was even more critical of myself. Kind of like that domino effect.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott said Monday that rookie first-round quarterback Josh Allen is expected to return Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars after not playing since an Oct. 14 elbow injury. Allen, one of four starting quarterbacks for Buffalo this season, threw Benjamin his only touchdown catch this season during the closing minute of a Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Benjamin said he wants to “put his body on the line” during the remaining six games of the season.
“Stop trying to worry about stats,” he said. “Stop trying to worry about pleasing everybody. Just play for myself. Let the chips fall where they fall.”
Redskins to sign Mark Sanchez to be backup QB
Redskins starting quarterback Alex Smith broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg in Sunday’s 23-21 loss to the Houston Texans. McCoy, in his fifth season with Washington, will start in place of Smith. But the Redskins had no other quarterback on the roster or even on the practice squad. They opted for Sanchez from a group that included E.J. Manuel, Kellen Clemens, Josh Johnson and T.J. Yates.
Sanchez does have several ties to the Redskins from his four seasons with the New York Jets. Redskins passing game coordinator Kevin O’Connell was a backup quarterback for parts of three seasons with the Jets during Sanchez’s time there. Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh served in the same role with the Jets from 2009-12. And Redskins offensive line coach and assistant head coach Bill Callahan held the same title for three seasons during Sanchez’s tenure.
Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft, offers the Redskins veteran experience. He has started 72 games and six more in the postseason. He has thrown 86 touchdown passes and 86 interceptions in his career and owns a career 73.9 passer rating and a 40.2 QBR.
The Redskins have been one of the NFL’s best at taking care of the ball this season, with only nine turnovers. In 2011-12 — his last two seasons with New York — Sanchez threw a combined 36 interceptions and fumbled 16 times. One of those became known as the “Butt Fumble”, which occurred in a Thanksgiving Day game vs. the New England Patriots on Nov. 22, 2012 — six years to the day when he’ll suit up for Washington for the first time when the Redskins play at Dallas.
Sanchez has also played for the Eagles and Cowboys and spent time on the rosters of the Bears and Broncos.
Sanchez is 4-2 in the postseason with a 71.5 total QBR a 95.5 passer rating with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He helped the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game twice.
Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson week-to-week with sprained knee
The rookie, who has been one of the Lions’ most dynamic players this season, injured the knee on a run where he started heading right, saw defenders and cut all the way back to the left side of the field before being tackled near the sideline for a 3-yard gain.
Johnson got up, went to the sideline and was immediately looked at by Lions staff, first on the bench and then on the medical table behind the bench before heading to the locker room for further examination.
Johnson entered Sunday’s game with 103 carries for 554 yards and two touchdowns along with 30 catches for 203 yards and a touchdown. Prior to the injury, Johnson had 15 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown along with two catches for 10 yards against the Panthers.
ESPN’s Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.