The Detroit Lions stunned the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday in the NFL regular-season opener, marking the second straight year that the defending Super Bowl champion lost in the opening game of the season.
With Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce sidelined by a knee injury, the Lions secondary stifled Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense in the second half. After halftime, Mahomes went just 9-of-22 for 79 yards in the 21-20 loss. A third-quarter drop by Kadarius Toney trickled into the hands of Lions defensive back Brian Branch, who ran the interception back 50 yards for a touchdown. Toney had another key drop on the Chiefs’ final drive of the game.
Kelce’s status created considerable line fluctuations throughout the week, especially on Thursday evening, when speculation mounted that he would miss the opener. The vast majority of the nation’s top sports betting sites closed with the Chiefs between -4 and -4.5, with FanDuel dropping the line to Kansas City -3.5. From Tuesday morning until kickoff, moneyline wagers on the Chiefs comprised 51% of the handle, according to a DraftKings spokesperson. When the NFL released the opening week schedule in the spring, numerous operators listed the Chiefs as 7-point favorites.
We are now less than 72 hours from the first Sunday of the NFL season. When teams release their respective injury lists on Friday, bettors will receive a stronger indication of which key players may be on the fence for their Week 1 openers. Over the course of this week, Sports Handle has been tracking all of the major football-related news surrounding the betting industry through a series of daily live blogs.
3:30 p.m.: Looking back at Marcol’s improbable TD
Two bitter rivals, the Packers and the Bears, squared off in a 1980 opener, one in which Chicago entered as a 6-point favorite. In a game dominated by defense, Green Bay held legendary Bears running back Walter Payton to 65 yards on 31 carries. The kickers supplied all the scoring, with Bears kicker Bob Thomas forcing overtime with a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Poised to end it with a game-winning field goal, Packers kicker Chester Marcol saw his attempt blocked by Alan Page, a future Minnesota State Supreme Court judge. The ball traveled directly into the arms of the Polish kicker, who alertly raced around the left end for a 25-yard touchdown. “It’s blocked! Taken by Marcol! Chester Marcol! Chester Marcol! Chester Marcol takes it in,” CBS Sports announcer Lindsey Nelson exclaimed. “Can you believe it? The Packers have won the game.”
At the time, in-game betting did not exist. Neither did props on whether a kicker would score a touchdown. Hypothetically, there may have been odds of +10000 on Marcol to complete the Lambeau Leap, yet the bespectacled kicker was swarmed by the Lambeau faithful after his improbable touchdown.
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The NFL alluded to the bizarre ending on Friday in a “This Week in NFL History” press release. The teams will renew their acquaintance on Sunday. The Bears are 1.5-point home favorites at FanDuel.
2 p.m.: Panthers WR Chark out vs. Falcons
Bryce Young will be without one of his top targets when the Heisman Trophy winner makes his NFL regular season debut on Sunday. The Panthers ruled out D.J. Chark (hamstring) on Friday. Chark, a sixth-year receiver from LSU, had 30 catches for 502 yards last season with the Lions.
Despite the absence of Chark, the line held steady at Falcons -3.5 at eight major sportsbooks on Friday afternoon. The absence of Chark will likely have a larger impact on same-game parlays, with Adam Thielen (ankle – questionable), Laviska Shenault, and rookie Jonathan Mingo all potentially becoming bigger parts of the Carolina offense. In light of Chark’s scratch, FanDuel temporarily pulled all Panthers receiving props off the board.
Young’s passing total is at 195.5 yards, with -114 on the over and under. Young has odds of -134 to finish with more passing yards this season than C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick by the Texans.
Other key injuries and absences
- Packers WR Christian Watson (hamstring)
- Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (foot)
- Dolphins OT Terron Armstead (back)
- Raiders DE Chandler Jones (non-injury related)
- Seahawks S Jamal Adams (knee)
- Giants WR Wan’dale Robinson (knee)
- Cowboys OT Tyron Smith (ankle)
- Ravens TE Mark Andrews (quad)
1 p.m: Buffs receiving more action than most NFL teams
A successful debut by Coach Prime has prompted University of Colorado backers to sprint to the windows before Saturday’s home opener against Nebraska. A 21-point underdog at reigning national runner-up TCU, Colorado defeated the Horned Frogs 45-42 in Deion Sanders’ debut coaching the program.
As of Friday afternoon, BetMGM had taken more wagering volume on the Buffaloes-Cornhuskers matchup than the remaining 15 NFL games on the week, ESPN reported. In the state of Colorado alone, PointsBet/Fanatics customers wagered more on Colorado to defeat Nebraska with the spread than on 30 NFL teams this week. Wagers on the Buffaloes (-2.5) at the Colorado book represented upward of 90% of the handle on spread markets. The line movement is staggering considering that Nebraska opened as a 9-point favorite at a number of books over the summer.
Earlier this week, DraftKings reported elevated wagering on two Buffs players to win the Heisman Trophy. As of Tuesday afternoon, Travis Hunter topped the charts on DraftKings’ futures market with 44% of the handle. Hunter, the 2022 National High School Player of the Year by Rivals.com, could be the first two-way player to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson. Hunter (+2500) ranks just ahead of Shedeur Sanders, Deion’s son. Sanders, who has odds of +2800, completed 38 of 47 passes for 510 yards and four touchdowns in the win over TCU.
11:30 a.m.: Some DraftKings customers frustrated by reported outages
A plethora of DraftKings customers took to Twitter on Thursday night to express discontent with their inability to access the company’s mobile app during the season opener between the Lions and Chiefs.
A Twitter user from Michigan aired his grievances at 8:59 p.m. ET during the first half of the game. The user, who goes by the nickname “Captain Mike Dzikowski,” posts often on DraftKings’ product innovations, tech updates, and stock movement, among other topics. Over the last 24 hours, several others have addressed the issue on social media.
Can’t log into the app here. https://t.co/w2WIaNoybG pic.twitter.com/nutzHbV6j8
— Dustin Gouker (@DustinGouker) September 8, 2023
Cash app & DraftKings crashed on same day last night
If we move to a cashless society,all it’ll take is 1 evil genius to shut down the entire country
— BetLabAnalytics (@BetLabAnalytics) September 8, 2023
— They call me: FISH (@RckyFshr) September 8, 2023
The @DraftKings app is having issues during Game 1….not ideal
— Jason Sullivan (@JSulli2121) September 8, 2023
Since the Supreme Court’s PASPA decision, several leading sportsbooks have been plagued by intermittent outages during major events on the sports calendar. The most glaring case transpired in the hours leading up to Super Bowl LV in 2021, when a number of the industry’s leading operators — DraftKings, FanDuel, PENN Interactive, and BetMGM — experienced outages just before kickoff. For some operators, the outages persisted during the game itself.
In many cases, excessive demand is the primary cause for the disruptions to the apps, as they occasionally have trouble handling larger than expected volume.
When reached by Sports Handle on Friday morning, DraftKings did not formally comment on the Chiefs-Lions matter. The outages, however, were not major and did not last for an extended amount of time, according to an industry source.
9:30 a.m.: Goodell addresses sports betting
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attended Thursday’s season opener from a seat at Arrowhead Stadium next to Lloyd Howell, executive director of the NFL Players Association. In June, the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives elected Howell to succeed longtime NFLPA executive DeMaurice Smith.
Before the game, Goodell addressed the league’s sports betting policy in an interview with NBC broadcaster Mike Tirico. The NFL is coming off an offseason in which 10 current or former players received suspensions for violating the league’s policy on sports wagering. Sports Handle broke an exclusive story in June, detailing allegations that former Colts defensive back Isaiah Rodgers Sr. placed hundreds of wagers on a sports betting app, including many from his Colts locker. ESPN later reported that Rodgers placed a $1,000 bet on a teammate to hit the over on a rushing yardage prop during a 2022 game.
Weeks later, Rodgers was one of a handful of players the NFL suspended for violating the policy. Following the season-long suspension, the Colts released Rodgers, who had been expected to start at cornerback. (The Eagles signed Rodgers in late August, then subsequently placed him on the team’s reserve/suspended list.)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, live on CNBC, says “all our policies will evolve” related to sports betting after several players violated league gambling policy.
— A.J. Perez (@byajperez) July 13, 2023
On the same day that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear placed the state’s first legal sports wager, Tirico asked Goodell if the NFL can reconcile gambling as a commercial entity given the rash of suspensions. Earlier this summer, the NFL extended a partnership with Genius Sports, the league’s official gatekeeper for sports betting data. The multi-year deal with Genius is worth more than $1 billon.
Goodell stressed that ensuring the integrity of the game is the league’s top priority when it comes to sports betting. As with the NFL, a host of other major sports leagues restrict their players from placing wagers on the sport they participate in. The NFL’s policy differs in that players are restricted from placing bets on any sport from inside a league facility.
“This isn’t just about players. It affects every league employee, every club employee,” Goodell told NBC. “It’s pretty simple. If you bet on the NFL and you’re a part of the NFL, you’ve got a problem.”
8:30 a.m.: Chiefs, Eagles now co-favorites
Following their breakthrough win, the Lions had odds of +800 at DraftKings to win the NFC, fourth-best among all teams in the conference. Earlier this week, the Lions had the highest percentage of handle — 22% — on the NFC market. The Lions opened the week around +1100 to make their first Super Bowl appearance.
One DraftKings customer placed a $5,000 wager on the Lions to win the conference (+1000) that would pay $50,000. Another has a Lions Super Bowl ticket that carries a $70,000 payout on a bet of $2,000.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff downplayed the victory, telling NBC sideline reporter Melissa Stark that his team is only 1-0 and simply focused on their next game. Detroit will face the Seahawks on Sept. 17 at Ford Field in the team’s home opener.
Meanwhile, Detroit coach Dan Campbell told reporters in his postgame press conference that he had expected to knock off the Chiefs, a win that made the Lions 1-0 for the first time since 2017.
“I didn’t learn anything. I got verification on what I already knew: This is a resilient team,” Campbell said.
Asked what he learned about his team after its Thursday night win in Kansas City, Lions’ HC Dan Campbell said: “I didn’t learn anything. I got verification on what I already knew. This is a resilient team. It already was a resilient team….We are built to handle some stuff.” pic.twitter.com/Sh12oRc7M6
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 8, 2023
Detroit has not won a playoff game since 1991, the longest drought of any team in the league. The Chiefs, who opened the season as Super Bowl favorites, now share the top spot with the Eagles at DraftKings.
As of Friday morning, the two participants from Super Bowl LVII are the co-favorites at +650. Here are some other line movements following Thursday’s upset by the Lions:
- The Lions entered the season as high as +145 at FanDuel to win the NFC North. After last night, they’re down to -106 at BetRivers.
- Detroit opened at +2500 to win the Super Bowl at BetRivers. Today, BetRivers has them at +1600. At DraftKings, the Lions are the eighth choice to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at +1700. The team is sandwiched between the Jets and the Ravens, who have odds of +1600 and +1800, respectively.
- As for Campbell, who entered the season as the favorite to win Coach of the Year with +1200 odds, he’s still the favorite — at +600 at BetMGM.
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