Early Week 3 NFL betting trends  

September, 20, 2011

Every Tuesday during the NFL regular season, Dave Tuley of ViewfromVegas.com will provide an update on the Hilton SuperContest.

LAS VEGAS -- A lot of sisters got kissed in Week 2 of the Hilton SuperContest.

The two most popular plays last week by the 517 entrants were the Dallas Cowboys minus-3 versus the San Francisco 49ers and the Buffalo Bills minus-3 versus the Oakland Raiders. A whopping 208 (40.2 percent of the field) were riding the Cowboys with only 41 liking the prospects of the 49ers, while 164 took the Bills to only 25 for the Raiders in what was the highest-percentage play of the week.

In the early games Sunday, the invading Raiders jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead before the Bills circled the wagons (no one does that like them, or so I've heard) and escaped with a 38-35 victory for a push on the 3-point spread, or the proverbial tie that is like kissing your sister.

But that was nothing compared to the swing of fortune in the Cowboys-49ers game. The 49ers led 24-14 more than midway through the fourth quarter before Tony Romo, who was seemingly out of the game with a fractured rib, rallied the Cowboys into overtime. SuperContestants with the Cowboys minus-3 were hoping for the unlikely TD in overtime to actually pull out the cover, and it looked like they were going to get it when Romo hit wide receiver Jesse Holley deep over the middle, and he was in the clear. Unfortunately, he was dragged down at the 1-yard line.

I was in the Hilton Theater when it happened and there were still close to 1,000 people watching the last game of the afternoon with a lot of their tickets tied to the Cowboys. Those bettors were going nuts, yelling for Dallas to punch it in, but Dan Bailey kicked the winning 19-yard field goal for yet another push.

When the dust had settled, there were 438 pushes to be divvied up among the SuperContestants, or an average of 0.847 apiece. The rest of the top consensus plays didn't fare much better. The No. 3 choice was the Baltimore Ravens minus-5.5 versus the Tennessee Titans (chosen by a 148-49 margin by SuperContestants but with the Titans pulling the 26-13 outright upset). The Atlanta Falcons did come through as the fourth choice of 145 players, but the Washington Redskins minus-3.5 versus the Arizona Cardinals; the San Diego Chargers plus-7 versus the New England Patriots; and the Green Bay Packers minus-9.5 versus the Carolina Panthers were also big losers.

The consensus only went 7-7-2 against the spread, which was actually better than the 6-9-1 posted in Week 1, though we've seen more of the top plays go down in flames. If the Buccaneers, plus-3 versus the Vikings, hadn't rallied from their 17-0 halftime deficit to win and cover 24-20, the carnage would have been even worse.

Usually after two weeks of the season, someone has put together a 10-0 start or at least a few people are 9-1, but this year, with the combined record of all contestants having a second straight losing week (1,036-1,101, or 48.5 percent, against the spread after tossing out the pushes), the leaders are Sans Souci and Pagermager with records of 8-1-1 for 8.5 points (wins are worth one point and pushes worth a half). Mister P. and Treasure Hunter are the only other players with 8 points. The leaderboard is going to be very clustered when the updated standings are posted here.

Where is the money going in Week 3?

Even though the official contest lines don't come out until Wednesday, the Hilton posts its openers around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, so we can usually see what the wise guys have been betting early and project what the popular trends will be for the coming weekend.

Dave Tuley

ESPN Staff Writer
Dave Tuley has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website, ViewFromVegas.com.