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Las Vegas sportsbooks win big on upsets by Saints, Steelers

Before Green Bay lost to Tampa Bay in the 2020 NFC title game, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called his future “a beautiful mystery.”

It was certainly a mystery how the reigning NFL MVP could play so poorly in Sunday’s season-opening 38-3 beatdown by the Saints. But the result was anything but beautiful for the countless bettors who backed the Packers as 3½-point favorites.

New Orleans, which opened as a 3-point favorite in May, delivered the biggest win on a monster day for Las Vegas sportsbooks as underdogs went 10-4 ATS with eight outright upsets.

“That’s a recipe for a very successful day,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay said. “For those type of results to happen on opening day, it’s almost like a bookmaker’s dream.”

Green Bay was a favorite bettor’s nightmare as Rodgers threw for 133 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a QB rating of 13.6.

Saints QB Jameis Winston — two years removed from throwing 30 interceptions — fired five TD passes and no picks as New Orleans opened the post-Drew Brees era in dominant fashion.

“I was really surprised that Green Bay garnered that much support. The Saints aren’t that bad,” Kornegay said. “Winston certainly has the capability of lighting it up. A lot of people were talking about Rodgers being back. But that entire team looked like they just got off the beach. They were not ready to play.”

Rodgers reportedly wanted out of Green Bay in the offseason, and Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said that drama likely had a negative effect on the team.

“It wasn’t about football in the offseason. It was more of a soap opera,” he said. “It probably weighed on the entire team.”

Upset of the day

The Steelers pulled off the day’s biggest point-spread upset in their 23-16 win over the Bills as 6½-point underdogs. Pittsburgh, which collapsed down the stretch last season after an 11-0 start, erased a 10-0 halftime deficit at Buffalo.

The Steelers gave the SuperBook one of its biggest (six-figure) wins in years.

“There was just so much support for the Bills across the board, including money lines, teasers and laying the points,” Kornegay said. “We had a couple sharp bites on the Steelers, but it didn’t really make a dent into the public support that Buffalo got.

“We certainly rank it up there with one of the biggest wins we’ve had the last few years.”

San Francisco beat

The 49ers closed as 9½-point favorites over the Lions after the line opened at 7 and were the clear ticket leaders at Station Casinos at 85 percent.

Any San Francisco bettor who laid 8½ or more suffered a bad beat when Detroit — which trailed 41-17 late in the game — scored two TDs and two 2-point conversions in the final 1:53 to get a backdoor cover in a 41-33 loss.

“That was a huge swing in the day for us,” Esposito said. “If you were one of the few bettors who got the Niners at -7½, you were smiling. Pretty much everybody else got the worst bad beat of Week 1.”

The biggest decision at BetMGM was the Saints, followed by the Cardinals, Chiefs and Chargers.

Arizona (+3) whipped Tennessee 38-13, the L.A. Chargers (+2) beat Washington 20-16 and Kansas City (-5½) rallied from a 22-10 halftime deficit to beat Cleveland, 33-29.

But the Chiefs didn’t cover, extending a trend from last season when they won 16 of 19 games, including playoffs, but were only 8-11 ATS.

“The Chiefs not covering again worked out well,” MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said. “Hopefully that trend continues.”

Rocky rookie road

All three rookie starting QBs lost straight up and ATS as Trevor Lawrence threw three interceptions in the Jaguars’ (-3) 37-21 defeat at Houston; Zach Wilson was sacked six times in the Jets’ (+3½) 19-14 loss at Carolina; and the Patriots (-3½) lost 17-16 to Miami in Mac Jones’ debut.

The Panthers, Seahawks (-3, 28-16 over the Colts), Broncos (-3, 27-13 over the Giants) and Rams (-9, 34-14 over the Bears) were the only favorites to cover. Unders went 9-5.

Circa contests

The final entry count for the $6 million Circa Survivor contest was 4,080, which left Circa Sports on the hook for a $1.92 million overlay. The final entry count for the Circa Million III contest was 4,087, which surpassed the $4 million guarantee.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.