On Friday afternoon, just after 2 p.m. ET, the point spread on the Jaguars-Chargers game began to crash. The betting market was convinced that Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was unlikely to play.
Sharp money showed up at sportsbooks at 2:17 p.m., Friday, causing the line to move. Within 90 minutes, the line dropped from Chargers -7 to -3, causing some sportsbooks to pull the game off the board. A New York-based sports bettor on Friday told ESPN that "an extremely good source" said that Herbert wouldn't play, prompting them to place multiple four-figure bets on the Jaguars.
Some bookmakers believed the move was based on Herbert missing practice Friday. Others thought it was all speculation. The guessing game would continue into Sunday, as bettors and bookmakers struggled to read the tea leaves.
Two hours before kickoff, a beat writer for The Athletic tweeted that Chargers backup quarterback Chase Daniel was announced as the starting quarterback on the video board at SoFi Stadium "during game presentation dress rehearsal."
"We felt confident that [Herbert] wasn't going to play and that was seemingly confirmed by the pregame video board showing Daniel as the starter," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN. "We got an alert from a trusted source that Daniel was in and Herbert was out."
"If a scoreboard operator is putting up a picture of Chase Daniel, that influences things," Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said. "It's pretty crazy. There are not many secrets anymore."
An hour later, however, the Chargers tweeted out their inactive list. Herbert wasn't on it. Soon after, ESPN's Adam Schefter said that Herbert would start, and the line shot back up, closing at Chargers -6.5.
"As the news leaked that Herbert was starting, the money came flowing back the opposite way with wise guys laying Chargers -3.5, -4, even -6," Murray said.
Herbert started, but the Jaguars won in a 38-10 rout.
"We really thought he wasn't going to play," Andy Morrissey, sports trader for WynnBET, said. "But he did, and it didn't matter in the end. "The Jags winning wasn't the best decision for us, but we had bigger games on the day."
• The Indianapolis Colts' upset of the Kansas City Chiefs produced the biggest win for sportsbooks on another tough Sunday for the betting public to start the NFL season. On Sunday morning, PointsBet reported that there were more bets and more staked on the Chiefs to cover the spread and win the game outright than there was on any other team to start the day.
The Miami Dolphins' upset of the Buffalo Bills also was a big win for sportsbooks.
"When two of the biggest teams, the Chiefs and Bills, go down, obviously that is always going to be good for the books," Pullen of Caesars said.
"It was a great day for us going into the night game. We will need the Broncos tonight for an ever bigger day," Morrissey of WynnBET said.
The Broncos covered the spread in an 11-10 come-from-behind win over the favored 49ers in the Sunday primetime game.
• The Eagles and Dolphins-and their hot-shot young quarterbacks-are soaring up oddsboards.
Philadelphia is now the co-favorites to win the NFC, along with the Buccaneers, at +375 at Caesars Sportsbook. The Eagles have moved from 25-1 at the start of the season to 9-1 to win the Super Bowl, tied for the fourth-best odds.
"The Eagles are going to be a problem for us all year," Tom Gable, sportsbook director at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, said. "The bettors in this area were already charged up for this season before it began. With the start that they have had, there aren't many non-believers right now."
The Dolphins' odds to win the Super Bowl have improved from 35-1 to 16-1 in the first three weeks of the season. Miami is the only team to have won and covered the spread in each of its first three games.
"I think [the Dolphins] are legit, if they're in a shootout," Craig Mucklow, director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook and Dolphins fan, said. "What the Bills did today, where they controlled the time of possession, will be a template for lot of teams this year [against Miami]."
In addition, the stock of both teams' quarterbacks -- the Eagles' Jalen Hurts and the Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa -- are rising, literally at New Jersey online sports betting site Mojo. Mojo, which launched this month, allows customers to buy and sell shares of NFL players, based on them reaching career statistical performances.
Hurts' stock price has increased 37% this month, up to $45.22. It's the biggest increase in price for any starting quarterback. Tagovailoa is second.
• Week 4 opening lines [via Westgate Sportsbook]
Dolphins at Bengals -2, 48.5
Vikings -2.5, 44.5 vs. Saints (in London)
Titans at Colts -3.5, 44.5
Bears at Giants -2.5, 39.5
Bills -3, 54.5 at Ravens
Chargers -6.5, 54.5 at Texans
Seahawks at Lions -6.5, 48
Jets at Steelers -3.5, 42
Jaguars at Eagles -7, 47.5
Commanders at Cowboys -3, 42.5
Browns -3, 46.5 at Falcons
Cardinals at Panthers pick 'em, 45
Broncos at Raiders -1.5, 46
Patriots at Packers -7.5, 42.5
Chiefs -3, 47.5 at Buccaneers
College football notables
• Notable opening lines: [via Circa Sports]
Wake Forest at Florida State -4, 64.5
North Carolina State at Clemson -6, 44.5
Oklahoma State at Baylor -1, 50.5
Kentucky at Mississippi -4, 55.5
Michigan -9, 41.5 at Iowa
Alabama -17, 60.5 at Arkansas
Caesars Sportsbook opened USC as a 13.5-point favorite over Oregon State last week, while other sportsbooks made the Trojans only around 5-point favorites.
Caesars quickly dropped its line as the market on the Pac-12 game took shape, but still took big bets on the underdog Beavers at the bigger spread, including a $110,000 on Oregon State at +7. Entering Saturday, roughly 85% of the money bet on the game's point spread was on the Beavers at Caesars Sportsbook, but that would change. USC won 17-14, but did not cover the spread.
"We actually won money to that game," Pullen said. "You're going to get plenty of USC money late, because there's a lot of buzz behind them. So you know that money is going to come in. We could've won more, but, look, our guys took a position on that game. There's nothing wrong with that."
• The Rutgers-Iowa total closed at 34, tied for the lowest in an FBS vs. FBS game in the last 20 seasons (2004 Ohio State-Penn State).
• Middle Tennessee State was as high as a 23-1 underdog to beat Miami, Florida, on Saturday. The Blue Raiders never trailed and rolled to a 45-31 win over the Hurricanes.
• A bettor in Louisiana placed a $10,600 money-line bet on LSU to beat New Mexico at -20,000 odds. The bettor won a net $53 when the Tigers handled the Lobos 38-0.