Week 15 of the NFL season has featured some chaos, to say the least. We saw three games this weekend go to overtime, including the largest comeback in NFL history by the Minnesota Vikings. The Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills won their games on last second field goals while the New York Jets missed a game-tying field goal attempt in the final seconds. In arguably the biggest regular season game to date this season from a playoff seeding perspective, the New York Giants, aided by some questionable officiating, pulled off a goal-line stand in the final minute to defeat the Washington Commanders. The cherry on top of course was the finish in Las Vegas, where the New England Patriots made one of the biggest mistakes you will ever see to hand the Raiders a victory and put a huge crimp in their own playoff chances.
Week 15 wraps up on Monday night with Baker Mayfield and the Los Angeles Rams heading to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are 7.5-point home favorites. In the meantime, let’s take a look back at the wild weekend across the NFL from a betting perspective.
Sportsbooks needed the Buccaneers
Entering Sunday’s action, the Cincinnati Bengals were winners of five straight games. After a Baltimore loss on Saturday, Cincinnati had a chance to gain sole possession of first place in the AFC North. The Bengals were 3.5-point road favorites over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers entered the weekend in first place in the NFC South, but their 6-7 overall record was far from impressive.
Unsurprisingly, most of the betting action was on the Bengals. At BetMGM, 79% of all bets were backing Cincinnati to cover as a 3.5-point road favorite. By kick-off, the Buccaneers were the biggest need of the day for the sportsbook at BetMGM.
The game couldn’t begin any better for Buccaneers’ bettors and the sportsbook. Joe Burrow threw an interception on a tipped pass on the first drive of the game. Tampa Bay drove the ball inside the five-yard line but settled for three points. After a Bengals’ punt, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers once again drove the ball downfield. This time, on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Buccaneers went for it and Brady found Russell Gage for a touchdown.
The Buccaneers’ defense forced another three-and-out and Tampa Bay had a chance to extend their lead, but Ryan Succop missed a 50-yard field goal. However, the defense once again stood tall and forced yet another three-and-out. This time, Brady took advantage and found Chris Godwin for another touchdown to extend Tampa Bay’s lead to 17-0.
With under two minutes remaining in the first half, the Buccaneers were absolutely dominating the game. The Bengals had 36 yards of offense while the Buccaneers had 243. On the Bengals first four offensive possessions, they had three 3-and-outs and an interception. Cincinnati was lifeless and it looked like the Buccaneers were going to roll to victory.
However, just before halftime, the Bengals offense showed signs of life as Burrow led a two-minute drive to set up an Evan McPherson field-goal to cut the lead to 17-3 at halftime. While that gave the Bengals some momentum, the game really changed on the first drive of the second half when the Buccaneers failed to convert a fake punt after Giovani Bernard dropped the snap. Cincinnati turned that turnover into just three points, but it set in motion what was a pretty impressive collapse by the Buccaneers.
Still up 17-6, Brady threw an interception that set the Bengals up at Tampa Bay’s 30-yard line. On 4th-and-3, the Bengals decided to go for it. Burrow was sacked for a 26-yard loss, but he was bailed out by a holding penalty on the Buccaneers’ defense.
The drive continued and Burrow found Tee Higgins for a touchdown. The Bengals went for two and didn’t convert, so Tampa Bay still had a five point lead. On Tampa Bay’s next drive, Logan Wilson strip-sacked Tom Brady and set the Bengals up in the red zone. Burrow found Tyler Boyd for a touchdown and then successfully converted a 2-point attempt to Tee Higgins. Suddenly, the Bengals went from down 17-0 to up 20-17.
Despite the collapse, the Buccaneers were still covering the spread as a 3.5-point underdog. That didn’t last long though. On Tampa Bay’s next drive, Leonard Fournette couldn’t handle a handoff from Brady. The Bengals turned that turnover into another seven points as Burrow found Ja’Marr Chase to increase the lead to ten. On Tampa Bay’s next drive, Brady threw yet another interception, but the Bengals couldn’t turn that turnover into points. All in all, on the Buccaneers’ first five offensive possessions of the second half, they had a fake punt go wrong, fumbled twice and had two interceptions. Not great.
The game settled down a little bit and the backdoor was still open for the Buccaneers if they could find the endzone. However, after a Tampa Bay punt, Burrow led a time-consuming 13-play, 62-yard drive that culminated in a Mitchell Wilcox touchdown reception with 2:21 left. In the final minute, Brady found Russell Gage for a touchdown, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Cincinnati ended up winning the game by 11 points, easily covering as a 3.5-point road favorite. If you watched the first half of that game, it looked like the Bengals were lifeless. It would have been really hard to envision them even making this a game, let alone having a three-score lead in the fourth quarter.
It was an epic meltdown by the Buccaneers. Their offense gifted the ball to Cincinnati five times to open the second half. The defense couldn’t bail them out. It ended up being a solid win for Bengals’ bettors, and there was a lot of them. However, the sportsbooks, who needed Tampa Bay to cover, were probably left wondering what they just watched.
Miracle cover for Raiders’ bettors
The Las Vegas Raiders were on their way to doing Las Vegas Raiders things on Sunday. A week after blowing a 13-point lead in the final five minutes to a quarterback who was still learning his teammates’ names, the Raiders once again had a two score lead to defend. At halftime, the Raiders led the New England Patriots by a score of 17-3. Las Vegas closed as a 2.5-point home favorite.
Early in the second half, Derek Carr tried hitting Davante Adams with a swing pass. However, Kyle Dugger read the play and it resulted in an easy pick-six touchdown for the Patriots to cut the lead to seven. The Patriots then kicked two field goals to cut Las Vegas’ lead to one. With 3:43 left in the game, Rhamondre Stevenson scampered for a 34-yard rushing touchdown. After a successful two-point conversion to Jakobi Meyers, the Patriots had a seven point lead. Unfortunately for Patriots’ bettors, that wasn’t the last we’d hear from Stevenson and Meyers.
The Patriots’ defense forced a 3-and-out on Las Vegas’ next possession. With 3:12 left, the Patriots had a chance to run out the clock and never give the ball back to the Raiders. A false start penalty put a damper on those plans, and with just over two minutes left, the Patriots sent the ball back to Las Vegas.
It looked like the Patriots’ defense was up to the task. They quickly forced a 4th-and-10 and were one stop away from sealing the game. However, Carr found Mack Hollins for a 12-yard gain to keep the game going. A few plays later, Carr found Keelan Cole for a 30-yard touchdown. On replay, it certainly looked like Cole’s foot was out of bounds. You can judge for yourself.
However, the call on the field was touchdown and the replay officials determined there wasn’t enough evidence for the call to be overturned. While most of the world disagreed, the call stood. Suddenly, the game was tied. Even after the Patriots had a chance to get off the field and win the game on fourth down, and then the highly questionable touchdown call, the game was still tied. New England would have a chance to win the game in overtime, right?
With three seconds left on the clock, the Patriots decided to play for overtime, calling a draw play for Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson picked up about 25 yards as the Raiders were guarding against the Hail Mary pass. Just as he was about to be tackled and/or go out of bounds, he decided to lateral the ball to Jakobi Meyers. Meyers then decided to try to throw the ball across the field and backwards about 15 yards to his quarterback, Mac Jones. Chandler Jones intercepted the lateral and then stiff-armed Mac Jones en route to the end zone. It was a walk-off touchdown for the Raiders.
Obviously, with the game tied, there was absolutely zero reason for the Patriots to be lateraling the ball all over the yard. Patriots bettors felt good late in regulation before the Raiders’ last drive. Despite the late score, they were gearing up for overtime. Instead, they got handed an epic loss they won’t forget for a while.
Underdogs dominate early slate
Right after the World Cup final ended, we quickly had to turn our attention to the six early NFL games on Sunday. If you were in a rush to place your bets, hopefully you landed on some underdogs.
Overall, in the six early games on Sunday, underdogs went 6-0 against the straight up. Three underdogs won their games outright.
The most impressive performance of the early part of the day came from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville was a 4-point home underdog against the Dallas Cowboys. Midway through the third quarter, the Cowboys had a 27-10 lead. It looked like they were going to cruise to an easy win and cover.
However, in less than ten minutes of game time, Trevor Lawrence threw three touchdown passes to give Jacksonville a 31-27 lead. The Cowboys answered with a Noah Brown touchdown with just over three minutes left to take a three point lead. Dallas covering looked unlikely, but at least they had a chance to win the game. Jacksonville tried to answer, but Lawrence fumbled at midfield with 1:38 left. The Jaguars’ defense stepped up and forced a quick punt.
With a minute left, Lawrence completed passes to Christian Kirk and Zay Jones to get into field-goal range. Riley Patterson forced overtime with a 48-yard field goal.
Jacksonville won the overtime coin toss, but was forced to punt on their first possession. Dallas just needed a field goal to win the game. A touchdown would have been gravy, especially for bettors who laid four points with the Cowboys. Instead, Rayshawn Jenkins corralled a deflection and returned an interception for a 52-yard walk off touchdown.
Elsewhere, the Kansas City Chiefs struggled as a 14-point favorite, needing overtime to beat the Houston Texans. Kansas City never came close to covering, so at least Chiefs’ bettors didn’t need to deal with heartbreak.
The Detroit Lions closed as 2.5-point road underdogs against the New York Jets. With under five minutes left, Zach Wilson found C.J. Uzomah to give the Jets a four point lead. On Detroit’s ensuing possession, facing a 4th-and-1 near midfield, the Lions ran a play-action pass and found tight-end Brock Wright who ran 51 yards for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.
The Jets got the ball back and quickly faced a 3rd-and-19. Wilson found Garrett Wilson for 22 yards to move the chains. With 14 seconds left, New York faced a 4th-and-18. Wilson evaded pressure and threw across his body to Elijah Moore who caught the ball, inexplicably ran backwards and almost ran the clock out. Thankfully for the Jets, he was down with one second left but Greg Zuerlein could not force overtime as he missed from 58-yards out.
The Steelers defeated the Carolina Panthers by a score of 24-16 as a 2.5-point road underdog. It wasn’t a great result for the Panthers as they try and find a way to somehow sneak into the playoffs. Even with the loss, the Panthers will win the NFC South if they win out.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Bears covered as an 8.5-point underdog against the Philadelphia Eagles, losing 25-20. In Desmond Ridder’s first NFL start, he covered as a 4.5-point road underdog against the New Orleans Saints in a 21-18 loss.
Pray for Colts’ moneyline bettors
The NFL weekend got off to an incredible start. The Minnesota Vikings closed as 3.5-point home favorites against the Indianapolis Colts. The line felt low, and a lot of bettors agreed as 80% of the bets were on Minnesota.
However, if you faded the public, you must have been feeling great. The Colts came out to a 33-0 lead in the first half. If you bet the Colts, maybe you even went out at halftime and did some holiday shopping with the money you thought you have almost certainly just won.
We all know what happened, The Vikings outscored Indianapolis 36-3 in the second half, forcing overtime.
Minnesota won the overtime coin toss and they had a chance to deliver the worst beat in NFL history to anyone who had the Colts getting 3.5 points. If Minnesota scored a touchdown, they would have covered the spread as a favorite. Fortunately for Colts bettors, they punted.
After a subsequent Colts’ punt, it looked like this insane game might end in a tie. However, Greg Joseph kicked a 40-yard field goal with seven seconds left in overtime to get the Vikings a three point win.
Thankfully for Indianapolis bettors, they covered the spread. However, if you had the Colts on the moneyline, you must still be wondering how you lost your bet. It took the largest comeback in NFL history to make you a loser.
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