Sportsbooks Profit Off NFL Week 1 Upsets

Posted on: September 14, 2020, 10:14h. 

Last updated on: September 14, 2020, 10:57h.

With the addition of six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the hot bet to win this year’s NFL championship. Interestingly, though, the bettors went with the New Orleans Saints over the Buccaneers in Sunday’s season-opening showdown.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates a fourth-quarter touchdown pass vs. Tampa Bay on Sunday. (Image: Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports)

The bettors were right. In a quarterback matchup for the ages, Drew Brees and the Saints beat Brady’s Bucs 34-23.

That was the worst loss we suffered this week,” Andrew Mannino, the senior sports content analyst at PointsBet, told

“Bettors liked the Saints in this game, which was something of a surprise after all the futures action we took on Tampa Bay all year. I think people want to actually see them in action before anybody was willing to bet on them in the game, so that ended up being a loss for us. People still believed in Brees and the Saints.”

Before Sunday, New Orleans was +1,200 to win the Super Bowl at PointsBet while Tampa Bay was +1,400. After Sunday’s verdict, the Saints moved to +800 and the Bucs to +1,800.

They’re Not Upset

While the bettors got that game right, they missed on a few others. That includes the Los Angeles Rams knocking off the Dallas Cowboys as a two-point underdog on Sunday night. The Cowboys – aka America’s Team – are popular with bettors under most circumstances, and hopes were especially high entering this season.

From our seat, it was a great weekend,” Mannino told “Two big upsets in Jacksonville and Washington helped the book a bunch. ‘Sunday Night Football’ also was a big win for the book. By game time, that had become our highest bet handle and bet count for the week, and most of that was on the Cowboys.”

Jacksonville, which recently unloaded standout running back Leonard Fournette and ace pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, seemed doomed to a miserable season, and was the favorite to gain the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Instead, the Jaguars stunned the Indianapolis Colts 27-20. Gardner Minshew completed 19 of 20 pass attempts, his 95.0 percent completion rate being the fourth-best in NFL history.

The Colts, who not only lost the game but star running back Marlon Mack for the season, opened the schedule at +2,500 to win the Super Bowl, but has tumbled to +3,300 at PointsBet. The Tennessee Titans have surpassed Indy as the AFC South favorite, as well.

Meanwhile, the Washington Football Team stunned the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17. Washington, the consensus last-place pick in the NFC East, will emerge from Week 1 either alone in first place or tied at the top.

The Eagles’ championship odds were hit about as hard as quarterback Carson Wentz, who was sacked eight times. They’ve gone from +2,200 to +3,000 at PointsBet.

Packers Make Statement

The Green Bay Packers, a slight underdog to the Minnesota Vikings for the game as well as in the NFC North, scored a resounding 43-34 victory. Two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes.

Just like that, the Packers went from +3,000 to win the Super Bowl to +2,000 at PointsBet.

“It puts them on a more solid footing,” Mannino said. “We currently have them as the favorite at +110 to win the division. Anytime you can get an opening-week division win in the books, it’s going to increase your odds all around.”

At William Hill, a Nevada bettor put $30,000 on the Packers at +125 to beat Minnesota. That bet meant a payout of $67,500.

The other big move, not in terms of price, belonged to the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore (+450) has supplanted the Kansas City Chiefs (+500) as the championship favorite at PointsBet. The teams are both +550 at FanDuel. Both teams scored impressive Week 1 victories, with the Chiefs beating the Houston Texans 34-20, and the Ravens smashing the Cleveland Browns 38-6.