ESPN | Notable Bets: Jets spoil biggest win of season for bookmakers

Dec 7, 2020

The next time you start to point your finger at “Vegas” for being behind a wacky NFL ending, remember this: An outright victory by the Jets on Sunday would’ve produced the biggest win of the season for some bookmakers.

With the Raiders trailing 28-24 in the final seconds, rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III somehow got Jets rookie defensive back Lamar Jackson to bite on a stop-and-go route and then hauled in a game-winning, 46-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr. Las Vegas’ “Miracle at the Meadowlands” gifted the favored Raiders a 31-28 victory. It also improved the winless Jets’ chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

“That was some strategy by the Jets,” John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said Sunday night, with just a tiny bit of sarcasm. “It would’ve been our biggest winner of the season to date if the Jets had won outright.”

“Strategy” is one way to put it. The Jets — again, leading by four points in the final seconds and needing only a tackle to secure their first win — sent an all-out blitz, leaving Jackson on an island to handle the speedy Ruggs. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Jets are the only team to send eight-plus pass-rushers on a play in the final 30 seconds of a game this season.

• A bettor with BetMGM, who staked $12,394 on the Raiders to beat the Jets straight up at -400, winning a net $3,099.

• A bettor with William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, who risked $11,400 on the Raiders to beat the Jets straight up at -380, winning $3,000.

Others were not pleased, including:

• A bettor with FanDuel who, way back on Sept. 8, placed a $25 bet on the Jets’ first win of the season coming against the Raiders at 250-1. It would’ve paid $6,250.

• A bettor with William Hill U.S., who had $500 riding on the Jets to pull the outright upset at +320. That would’ve paid a net $1,600.

Overall, though, money-line bets on the Jets were scarce at most shops. Raiders-Jets was the most heavily bet game of the week at BetRivers sportsbooks, where a whopping 92% of the money-line handle backed Las Vegas. The story was the same at sportsbooks around the nation. Although there was money on the Jets to cover the 7.5-point spread, only a few were willing to take them to win outright on the money line.

“I don’t know if we had but one or two bets on the Jets money line at all,” said Johnny Avello, sportsbook director for DraftKings. “Ninety-something percent [of the bets] was on the Raiders money line.”

The Jets entered Sunday as +125 to finish the regular season 0-16. With their remaining games against the Seahawks, Rams, Browns and Patriots, they seem like favorites now to become the third team to finish the regular season without a win and earn the No. 1 overall pick.

Here is this week’s edition of Notable Bets, our weekly recap of the betting story lines from around the sports world.

• In case you were concerned about the sportsbooks losing on what would’ve been a giant payday on the Jets, bookmakers still managed to come out ahead Sunday. The books won big again in what, after an uneven start, is turning out to be a lucrative NFL season for the house.

“We had a good day,” the SuperBook’s Murray said. “[It] could’ve been very good if the Jaguars or Jets had won outright, but definitely no complaints.”