Sports betting winners and losers: A 10-team parlay worth $35,000 came down to 4 backdoor NFL covers

It was a week full of backdoor covers in the NFL. One bettor didn’t mind at all.

Over the weekend, a bettor placed $50 on a 10-team parlay at BetMGM. The parlay would win $35,392.50, or about 700-to-1 odds. It was a mix of college basketball and NFL games, and the bettor won all the college basketball games. He mostly took large underdogs:

  • UMass +28.5

  • Arkansas Pine Bluff +33

  • Florida A&M +20.5

  • Houston Baptist +34.5

  • North Dakota State +23.5

  • Houston U. +2.5

He needed to go 4-0 on NFL to win the parlay, and that’s not easy. It’s especially not easy when you are in danger of losing each of the four and somehow pull each one out in the final minutes.

Bills -4.5: Not technically a “backdoor cover” but close enough. The Bills led 27-17 in the final minute but Justin Herbert somehow completed a 55-yard desperation pass down to the Bills’ 2. For some reason the Chargers, with no timeouts, ran on their first play after the long pass. That cost them about 17 seconds and gained only a yard. Then from the 1-yard line with just a few seconds left the Chargers threw incomplete twice and Herbert was stopped on fourth down as time expired. If any of those four plays got in the end zone, the parlay loses.

Jaguars +7: The Browns led 27-19 for most of the fourth quarter. With 5:29 left the Browns failed on a fourth-and-1 at Jacksonville’s 22. The Jaguars went on a long drive. It seemed the Browns got off the field on a fourth-and-10 incompletion, but defensive end Olivier Vernon was called for a questionable penalty for initiating contact with his helmet. On third-and-2 with a little more than two minutes left, the Jaguars scored. They lost 27-25, covering the spread. Parlay still alive.

Bengals +6: The Giants took a 19-10 lead with less than four minutes left. The Bengals’ offense had not scored a touchdown all day. But a 72-yard drive that included two Giants penalties, including a roughing the passer, led to a 1-yard touchdown with a little more than two minutes to go. The Bengals lost 19-17, and the parlay was still going.

Buccaneers +3.5: The Buccaneers, playing in the late set of games, looked like the team that would ruin the 10-teamer. They trailed 17-0 in the first quarter and 20-7 at the half to the powerful Kansas City Chiefs. It was 27-10 going into the fourth quarter.

The Buccaneers got a 31-yard touchdown to Mike Evans on fourth-and-3. Still, Tampa Bay needed to keep Kansas City from scoring and get another touchdown itself. They forced a punt and a roughing the passer penalty kept their next drive going. With more than four minutes left Evans scored again and somehow Tampa Bay trailed by just 3 points. The Chiefs got some first downs but never threatened to score, and they ran out the clock on a 27-24 win and a half-point cover.

And with that fourth late NFL cover, any of which could have easily gone the other way, one bettor turned $50 into a $35,392.50 win.

That bettor can’t complain about any of his bad beats for a long, long time.

Mike Evans' two fourth-quarter touchdowns were a big deal in the gambling world. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Mike Evans' two fourth-quarter touchdowns were a big deal in the gambling world. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Here are the winners and losers from the past week in the sports betting world:


Gonzaga: There shouldn’t be much doubt after just one week of college basketball who the favorite is.

Gonzaga looks fantastic. They beat a good Kansas team 102-90 and then blew out Auburn 90-67. The Bulldogs look very good.

"We feel we can score on anybody," Gonzaga forward Drew Timme said, via AP. "We've got great coaching. If we execute our offense and move the ball and not get stymied, we feel we can score on every team."

Of course, this being 2020, Gonzaga is dealing with positive COVID-19 tests among players and coaches, which puts their games this week against West Virginia and Baylor in some peril.

Despite looking great in the first week, Gonzaga is still +800 at BetMGM to win the title. That’s not bad for the best team in college basketball.

NFL favorites: Once again, it was a good week for underdogs. And the sportsbooks.

Most NFL bettors prefer favorites, and there wasn’t good news on Sunday and Monday. Underdogs covered eight of the 12 games during the day Sunday, then we had Seahawks-Eagles on Monday night (more on that in a moment).

“It’s been a rough stretch here for the bettors,” Jeff Stoneback, the director of trading for MGM Resorts, told Yahoo Sports.

Underdogs are a pretty amazing 100-76 against the spread in the NFL this season, according to You can turn a very nice profit just betting underdogs each week in the NFL, which makes some sense in this crazy season.


Anyone who had the Seahawks +6.5: It was a tough week for a lot of NFL bettors, and Monday night didn’t help.

BetMGM said about 90 percent of the tickets and money bet on “Monday Night Football” was on the Seahawks. The line moved from -5 to -6.5. That’s important.

If you stayed up late, you know what happened. The Eagles completed a Hail Mary on a great catch in the end zone with 12 seconds left, then instead of kicking the extra point to cut Seattle’s lead to 7 points, they went for the 2-point conversion. They got it, lost 23-17 and all of a sudden those -6.5 tickets were losers. That includes one bettor who had $500,000 on the Seahawks at -6.5.

It’s a good lesson: Always try to get the best number. Anyone who had Seattle at -5 or -5.5 isn’t sad about the result. Every half-point counts.

Virginia and Villanova hoops: Part of Gonzaga looking like the best team in college basketball already — yes, Baylor fans, we aren’t forgetting you — is that we saw two of the four consensus favorites already go down.

Virginia lost a baffling game to San Francisco as double-digit favorites. Villanova lost a strange one in overtime to a Virginia Tech team that was a 9.5-point underdog.

A week into the season, it already looks like a weird one. Hopefully the NCAA tournament happens as scheduled, because it could be more unpredictable than ever.

Back-to-back bad beats: My colleague Matt Gothard was monitoring the bad-beat scene on Saturday and he had two really rough ones.

You should never lose a bet on a 28-point favorite when a team losing by 30 fires up a 3-pointer that banks in at the buzzer. But, that’s what happened when Southern’s long heave went in against Iowa.

And then right after that, Stanford blocked an extra point that was great for the Cardinal, and terrible for anyone who had them as a 1.5-point favorite.

Sports betting can be a cruel endeavor.

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