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Bettors Couldn’t Pass on No-QB Denver Broncos in Sunday NFL Game

Drivers can’t help but look at a car accident. Likewise, bettors couldn’t help but wager on the New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos game on Sunday.

Emergency quarterback Kendall Hinton was 1-of-9 passing for 13 yards with two interceptions in the Denver Broncos’ ugly loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. All of Denver’s regular quarterbacks were out because of COVID-19. (Image: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

Because of a positive COVID-19 test and high-risk close contacts, the Broncos were without a true quarterback for their game against the Saints – practically a worst-case scenario. Betting interest in the game soared alongside the point spread.

Interest High in Unusual Game

All of a sudden, the unprecedented situation threw an under-the-radar game into the spotlight at sportsbooks.

If [regular starting quarterback] Drew Lock’s there, it’s not the sexiest game in the world to bet on,” said PointsBet director of communications Patrick Eichner to Casino.org.

By day’s end, the game generated the fourth-most action at PointsBet.

When news broke on Saturday night that the Broncos would be lining up with practice-squad receiver Kendall Hinton at quarterback, the spread moved from 6.5 to 14. It didn’t stay there for long. In less than an hour, the line had gone to 15.5. As Sunday afternoon’s kickoff approached, the line had shot up to 17.

At 14 and 15.5, people were all over the Saints,” Eichner said. “The interest in that game really started to pick up, and took it from what would have been probably in the bottom handful in terms of overall turnover, and definitely elevated it and made it a very popular game.”

No matter the number, bettors liked the Saints. New Orleans captured 80 percent of the spread handle, even with starting quarterback Drew Brees out of the lineup.

Backup quarterback Taysom Hill led the Saints to a 31-3 victory.

Good Day for Sportsbook

While the public won that game, it was a “pretty strong Sunday” at PointsBet. The day ended on a strong note with an unusually bet game.

While most bettors sided with the Green Bay Packers as 8-point favorites over the Chicago Bears, bets by some of PointsBet’s heavy hitters meant that 81 percent of the money was on the Bears. It was a similar story at BetMGM, with one bettor plunking $100,000 on Chicago.

Green Bay rolled to a 41-25 victory.

Earlier in the day, it was a similar betting trend. According to Eichner, 81 percent of the bets were on the Kansas City Chiefs as 3.5-point favorites at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers But. the Bucs had 72 percent of the spread handle. The Chiefs won 27-24, but the Buccaneers rallied to cover.

“The public at mass was on the Packers. So, we needed the Packers, even though the Packers had the majority of the tickets. Same deal with the Chiefs. We needed the Chiefs despite having the lion’s share of the tickets,” Eichner said.

Monday Night Football (and Wednesday, Too)

The Seattle Seahawks (7-3) are 6.5-point favorites at the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1) on Monday night. Both teams are in tight division races, with Seattle leading the hotly contested NFC West and the Eagles with an opportunity to move into first place in the woeful NFC East.

The high-flying Seahawks, with MVP candidate Russell Wilson, have attracted more than 60 percent of the bets. One bettor put $500,000 on the Seahawks to cover at BetMGM.

In the Week 12 finale, the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0) are slated to host the Baltimore Ravens (6-4) in a game originally scheduled for Thursday, but then moved to Sunday, Tuesday, and finally, Wednesday by major COVID-19 issues within the Ravens.

Among those on Baltimore’s COVID-19 list are reigning MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Without him and 11 other players, Pittsburgh is a 10.5-point favorite – a move of six points.

Bill Huber

Sports, sportsbetting----Football, from games to the draft, is Bill Huber’s passion. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a Division III powerhouse where Bill watched games from the bench for a few seasons, he's reported on the NFL’s Green Bay Packers since 2008, first for Packer Report and now for Sports Illustrated’s Packer Central. He's covered two Super Bowls, writing features so insightful that they made some players’ moms cry. When not writing about football, he loves camping with his family, coaching his kids, playing with his two golden retrievers. But his real joy is in going toe-to-toe in cribbage with his wife. Email: bill.huber@casino.org.

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