With apologies to Winston Churchill, halfway through the NFL season, handicapping the league remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
Bettors who have been waiting for the Raiders, Rams and Packers to bounce back are still waiting.
Gamblers who banked on the Bills to beat the Jets as 10½-point favorites Sunday were stunned when New York dealt the Super Bowl favorites a 20-17 defeat.
The Chiefs (-14) rallied from a late 17-9 deficit en route to a 20-17 overtime win over the Titans.
The Jets dealt New Jersey bettor Bob DeLuca an especially crushing blow. DeLuca, 68, entered this week as the front-runner to win the Circa Survivor contest and its $6.1 million prize.
He had six of the 123 entries that remained alive from the starting field of 6,133. But he went all-in on Buffalo and was eliminated when the Bills blew a 14-3 first-half lead. New York won it on Greg Zuerlein’s tiebreaking 28-yard field goal with 1:43 left.
It was the eighth time in nine weeks that DeLuca used the same team on all six $1,000 entries.
“Thank you to (Circa owner) Derek Stevens who gave me the opportunity to almost say I’m a millionaire,” DeLuca posted on Twitter (@CrushemSports). “I will be back with six entries and I will play it the same way I played this go round.
“Good luck to the remaining entrants.”
Every team in the AFC East has a winning record, with the Jets (6-3) and Dolphins (6-3) a half-game behind the Bills (6-2) and the Patriots (5-4) 1½ games back.
“It goes to show again, from week to week, that anything can happen in this league,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “There’s just so much parity right now.”
The Jets have as many wins as the Packers (3-6) and defending Super Bowl champion Rams (3-5) combined.
Green Bay lost 15-9 to Detroit as a 4-point favorite after Aaron Rodgers threw three interceptions, including two in the end zone, and the Packers twice turned it over on downs, including at the Lions’ 17 in the final minute.
Los Angeles lost 16-13 to Tampa Bay as a 3-point underdog after Tom Brady threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cade Otton with nine seconds left.
“Every week, I hear someone say this is the week the Buccaneers or Rams or Packers are going to turn it around. But week after week they continue to play poor football,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “Even though the Bucs won this week, they still looked horrible.”
Just don’t blow it, baby
Underdogs went 6-3-2 ATS with four outright wins, including Jacksonville’s 27-20 comeback win over the Raiders as 2½-point underdogs.
While the Jets have won three games this season that they’ve trailed by double digits, the Raiders have lost three games that they’ve led by at least 17 points.
They blew a 20-0 halftime lead in a 29-23 overtime loss to the Cardinals in Week 2, a 17-0 first-half lead in a 30-29 loss to the Chiefs in Week 5 and a 17-0 first-half lead Sunday over the Jaguars.
Bettors lost on the Raiders (2-6, 3-5 ATS) for the second straight week as they fell to 0-5 on the road in what was the biggest decision of a solid winning day for sportsbooks.
“People still believed going into (Sunday) that they’d bounce back,” Caesars Sportsbook assistant director of trading Adam Pullen said. “But Raiders fans and bettors were left again wondering what happened.
“It’s definitely not the season a lot of Raiders fans thought they’d have with big offseason acquisitions after making the playoffs last year.”
The biggest wins for bettors were the Bengals (-7), who whipped Carolina 42-21, and the Patriots (-4½), who crushed the Colts 26-3.
Dolphins bettors were tormented as they thrice went ahead by double digits over the Bears only to have Chicago answer with a TD each time.
After the Bears made it 35-32 midway through the fourth quarter, Miami (-4) drove to the Chicago 14, where a field goal would put the Dolphins in position to cover. Miami went for it on fourth-and-1, and tight end Durham Smythe was wide open in the flat. But Tua Tagovailoa’s throw was too low, and they turned it over on downs.
In painful fashion for Miami bettors, the Dolphins held on for a 35-32 win but didn’t cover.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at [email protected] Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.