The Autopsy: Where Football Bettors Won and Lost Most Last Week

Written By Derek Helling on September 23, 2021
biggest winning bets

After the first week of the NFL season saw legal sportsbooks around the United States clean up, the public struck back over the past week with some better results among college football and NFL games. Not everything went bettors’ way; however, we’ll share the biggest winning bets for the public below.

A missed potential game-winning field goal swung one result bettors’ way while two favorites failing to cover helped books’ causes. Overall, several teams delivered for the public in big ways.

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Public Wins: Biggest Winning Bets

BetRivers sportsbook manager Zach Schlouch laid out how the public recovered from a dismal performance in the first week of the NFL and simultaneous second week of the college football season.

Notre Dame was a big win for bettors,” Schlouch said. “Sunday was a great day for the public, with the three biggest decisions; the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Chicago Bears all cashing.”

Another result that ended up in bettors’ favor but almost didn’t was the Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals contest. Bettors at BetRivers and PlaySugarHouse sportsbooks were banking on Arizona staying undefeated according to Schlouch.

“The missed kick didn’t affect the spread but was nonetheless a big swing for the public,” Schlouch explained. “[The] ticket count on the moneyline was about five to one in favor of the Cardinals, in addition to nearly 80% of the money at significant volume. So, likely more than a few bettors [were] rejoicing following the shank.”

While Cardinals backers were celebrating that shank, those who staked Penn State against Auburn a day prior were likely sweating it out. Schlouch says that 60% of wagers and 66% of the money was on the Nittany Lions to win outright.

There were several controversial calls that all went against Penn State in the game, to the point where head coach James Franklin addressed them earlier this week. What looked like it could have been a classic bad beat never materialized though, as that moneyline still paid out with a 28-20 Nittany Lions win.

Bettors on other contests never got that sense of relief, however. In fact, one of the bigger wins for sportsbooks came in a contest that looked like another win for the public early on.

Sportsbook Wins: Biggest Winning Bets Come In Primetime

Two championship contenders delivered for sportsbooks between Saturday and Sunday. Schlouch has the details.

“Alabama was the most-bet side of the daytime slate,” Schlouch stated. “[It was a] rare instance of the Tide not coming through for the public. The primetime [Sunday] game was looking good as well, but Baltimore’s late rally helped the book get a bit back to end the day.”

Schlouch said that 82% of handle and 74% of bets took Alabama -14. For the Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens game, BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse bettors took Kansas City to win outright with 80% of the money and 79% of tickets. The public also staked the Chiefs -3.5 in 78% of bets and 69% of handle.

As Schlouch mentioned, the missed field goal in Minnesota at Arizona didn’t affect the spread. The public took the Cardinals -3.5 in 81% of wagers and with 68% of their dollars, so that put a damper on the 34-33 win for Cardinals bettors.

Honorable mention

An honorable mention for this week goes to bettors on the Michigan State spread against Miami (FL). The Spartans came in as a 7.5-point underdog to the Hurricanes but the public backed Michigan State to fall within that margin in 70% of wagers and with 52% of the money.

After a poor first week for the public, this week showed a sign of regressing to the mean. As the seasons continue, bettors hope to push that envelope even further.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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