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Top-10 2014 NFL bets gone bad

27 October 2014

By Aaron Todd
There's nothing worse than a sports bet that looks like it's a cinch to win, but then something happens in the last minute or two of the game that changes everything and turns your winning ticket into a loser.

New Jersey residents — and those in neighboring states — probably felt that way this weekend, when U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp granted a temporary restraining order that blocked Monmouth Park's plans to offer sports betting for the first time in the Garden State.

In honor of those who felt like their first chance to bet on sports in New Jersey was yanked out from right under their feet, here are the top-10 NFL bets this season that felt like winners, right up until they weren't.

10. Week 1: New Orleans (-3) at Atlanta
If you had New Orleans in this game, you thought you were going to get a push when Mark Ingram scored a touchdown to give the Saints a 34-31 lead with just 1:20 left to play. And while a tie might be like kissing your sister in sports, it is most definitively not at all like kissing your sister in sports betting. A push means you get your money back, and while you'd rather win, it's much, much better than losing.

Then, the Falcons drove down the field and Matt Bryant tied the game with a 51-yard field goal as time expired.

Okay, whatever. The Saints would still push with an overtime field goal, and since they won the toss, you were certain they'd go for a touchdown to clinch the win on their first possession, right? Then Marques Colston fumbled the ball on New Orleans' second play from scrimmage. Bryant clinched the game for the Falcons four plays later with a 52-yard field goal, and you set your money on fire.

9. Week 8: Baltimore (pick) at Cincinnati
It's not often you get a pick'em game in the NFL. But the oddsmakers were certainly correct when they set this game as a tossup.

If you bet on Baltimore, you must have cringed when the Bengals took a 27-24 lead with just 1:01 left on an Andy Dalton quarterback sneak. But that cringe was nothing compared to how incensed you were when Steve Smith's touchdown reception on the Ravens' next possession was called back on an offensive pass interference penalty. The Ravens couldn't rally, the Bengals held on for the win, and you shredded your Ravens to win ticket while cursing the officials for calling a penalty on what looked like a dive.

8. Week 8: Philadelphia (+2.5) at Arizona
If you bet on the Eagles, you were pretty psyched about Cody Parkey's 20-yard chip shot with two minutes left to give Philadelphia a 20-17 lead. Sure, you'd rather have had a touchdown, but leading by three with two minutes left, and knowing the Cardinals have to get at least 45 yards to give their kicker a chance to tie the game is better than trailing. Plus, if the game goes into overtime, the Eagles still have a shot to win (and cover). Heck, the game could end in a tie for all you care.

Then Carson Palmer hit John Brown for a 75-yard touchdown pass with 1:33 to play to give the Cardinals the lead with enough room to cover, and you banged your head against the wall wondering what happened to the dynamic Eagles offense.

7. Week 3: Baltimore at Cleveland (+1.5)
The Browns led 21-20 when Baltimore got the ball at their own 40 with less than two minutes left in the game. But when Joe Flacco hit Steve Smith for a 32-yard pass to get into the red zone, you had to know your fate was sealed. God doesn't often answer bettors who pray for an NFL kicker to miss a 32-yard field goal to win the game, and those prayers went unanswered for those who backed the Browns in Week 3. You were left cursing your bad luck and wishing you hadn't skipped church.

6. Week 8: Minnesota at Tampa Bay (-2.5)
The Bucs trailed 10-0 entering the fourth quarter of this game, so it's not as if their bettors felt like they had a lock for the whole game. But when Tampa Bay kicker Blair Walsh hit a 38-yard field goal tying the game 13-13 to send the game into overtime, they had to feel like they had a good shot to win.

Those bettors probably felt even better when the Bucs won the toss and got the first possession in overtime, but that didn't last long. On their first play from scrimmage, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass, but Anthony Barr stripped the ball and returned the fumble 27 yards for a game-winning touchdown. Game over, Vikings win (and cover), and not only did you lose the bet, but now you have to buy a new TV because your remote control went flying through the 50-inch LCD screen you bought just last year.

5. Week 5: Cleveland at Tennessee (-2)
When you've got a 15-point lead going into the fourth quarter, you usually feel pretty good. Sure, you'd like it to be 17 points, especially if you've got the favorite and the spread is two points, but when you're betting on the Titans, you can't be too picky.

Cleveland's unlikely comeback started with a blocked punt that went out of the back of the end zone for a safety with just over 11 minutes left. Then, on the ensuing possession, Brian Hoyer hit Travis Benjamin for a touchdown with 6:57 remaining.

Not ideal if you've got money riding on the Titans, but hey, you've still got a six-point lead on a two-point spread, and you're getting the ball back and can run some clock.

You might have been groaning after the Titans gave up the ball after a four-and-out, but then the defense got the ball right back, intercepting Hoyer on a deep ball at their own 22. They got one first down on the ensuing drive, and Cleveland was down to their final timeout with 3:12 to play. The Titans faced a fourth-and-one and tried to essentially put the game away by going for it on their own 42-yard line, but Charlie Whitehurts's run came up short and the Titans gave the Browns the ball back on downs.

Hoyer hit Benjamin for another touchdown with just 1:15 to play, and that was all she wrote. The Titans managed to cross midfield on the final play of the game, but didn't get out of bounds to give their kicker a chance to win it, or more importantly for those who bet on the Titans, a chance for a push. You sat stunned, but really, you understood that you got what you deserved for betting on the Titans.

4. Week 3: Denver (+4.5) at Seattle
Seattle led this game 17-3 going into the fourth quarter, but Peyton Manning's touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme got the Broncos within two with 24 seconds left, and Denver bettors were put in the unusual position of rooting against the Broncos' two-point conversion attempt; if they didn't convert, Denver would almost certainly lose the game, but would also be virtually guaranteed to cover.

When the Broncos did indeed convert to tie the game, it meant Seattle wouldn't be able to run out the clock to win the game, but the Broncos were still safely covering the 4.5-point spread.

An overtime game with a spread of more than three points where you have the underdog used to be safe in the NFL, as teams would only need a field goal to win. But now, under the new rules, the team that gets the first overtime possession must score a touchdown in order to end the game.

So when the Seahawks won the toss, Denver's bettors needed the defense to hold Seattle to a field goal to be virtually assured a cover. But the Seahawks marched down the field on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a Marshawn Lynch six-yard touchdown run to end the hopes of the Broncos and their backers. Serves you right for rooting for the two-point conversion.

3. Week 1: Oakland at New York Jets (-5.5)
With a 12-point lead with less than two minutes to play, even the Jets would have a hard time losing this game. But they did manage to find a way to lose against the spread.

James Jones made an incredible one-handed touchdown catch to get the Raiders within five. The play was challenged, making bettors everywhere sweat, but was eventually upheld. The Raiders didn't get the onsides kick, and the Jets sat on the ball to run out clock. The touchdown was meaningless, unless you bet on the spread. And to add insult to injury, Jets quarterback Geno Smith fumbled the ball inside the Raiders' five-yard line earlier in the game. Just one field goal would have been enough to cover. After the game, you vowed never to bet on Geno Smith again.

2. Week 1: Jacksonville (+11) at Philadelphia
At halftime, the Jaguars had an unlikely 17-0 lead. Even diehard Jaguar fans probably didn't think that the lead would last for the whole second half, but the ones that bet on Jacksonville to cover had to be feeling good. A double-digit underdog with a three-score lead at halftime? That's almost unheard of.

The Eagles tied the score early in the fourth quarter, and while the Jaguars weren't able to put any points on the board in their next possession, they took 3:45 off the clock before punting the ball and pinning the Eagles inside their own 20-yard line. But a chop block penalty gave the Eagles some additional room, and Nick Foles found Jeremy Maclin without a defender within 10 yards for a 68-yard touchdown on the very next play.

Uh oh.

Then the Eagles took a 27-17 lead when Cody Parkey hit a 28-yard field goal at the two-minute warning. But the spread is 11 points, right? Even if the Jaguars went four-and-out and gave the ball right back to Philadelphia, they didn't have any timeouts, so the Eagles would simply run out the clock. This still felt like a safe cover.

But it's the Jaguars. Chad Henne fumbled and Fletcher Cox picked up the loose ball and rumbled into the end zone to put the Eagles up 17 and send Jaguar bettors into the depths of despair.

1. Week 6: Denver at New York Jets (+10)
Leave it to the Jets to nab two spots of the top three spots on this list.

It's tough to beat a 10-point spread, even on the road. So you can't blame people who picked the Jets and the points in Week 6. Actually, yes you can.

But they still managed to make things interesting. Even though they were trailing by two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter, the Jets managed to get within seven when Geno Smith found Eric Decker for a two-yard touchdown pass with less than eight minutes to play.

You obviously didn't feel all that great about your chances to win this bet, though, as Peyton Manning still had plenty of time to put more points on the board and put the game out of reach, but how would you feel if I told you that the Jets defense would keep Manning off the board for the rest of the game and the offense would have the ball with less than a minute to play?

Well, don't forget that Bronco defense. Pinned inside their own five-yard line with less than a minute to play, Smith was sacked at his own one (a safety would have still given the Jets a cover), then threw a pick-six to Aqib Talib, giving the Broncos a 14-point lead and an unlikely cover.

You were left looking into an empty wallet, wondering why you bet on the NFL and didn't opt for a Powerball ticket instead.
Top-10 2014 NFL bets gone bad is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
 

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Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.