2022 will certainly go down in history as one of the stranger years. In February, a flawed Russian invasion of Ukraine lead to massive destruction in Ukraine and Russian sports teams being banned in international including the World Cup. The FBI searched for Donald Trump’s estate and confiscated classified documents and ultimately the former president was referred to the DoJ for prosecution. The Queen died and the richest man in the world bought Twitter for $44 billion and then made crucial business decisions, including firing himself as CEO, based on impromptu public opinion polls! One of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, FTX, was nothing more than a giant ponzi scheme and Bill Belichick apparently lost his mind, went for the craziest of crazy plays to end a game, and the Patriots lost with no time left on the clock. So, it seems only fitting that the week before Christmas would see one of the craziest sports weekends, one that has left not only fans but also bettors and sportsbooks wondering what in the world just happened.
Crazy football finishes all weekend
The first crazy outcome occurred Saturday evening during a college football bowl game, the New Mexico Bowl. SMU seemed to be in control in a tie game until a 76-yard interception return for a TD gave BYU the lead. It took the wind out of SMU’s sails, who gave up another quick touchdown, but the team marched down the field for 2 scores making the score 24-23 BYU, with 12 seconds left. It almost certainly delighted SMU bettors realizing they still had a chance to tie or cover the 3 to 4 point spread in OT but despite having all the momentum and the better defense, coach Lashlee decided to go for a 2-point conversion, which ensured SMU couldn’t cover and also killed any chance for Over bettors. They failed on the 2 point try, which cost moneyline wagers as well. Books, however, which saw almost 2 to 1 action on SMU were mostly thrilled.
Next was the Saturday night NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The total for the game was only 43.5 points, since all weather forecasts called for a “major snow event”, but it snowed before game time and then stopped. Consequently, the field was dry, and the total quickly rose at books and as expected on a dry field it turned into a shootout. The teams traded leads a couple of times, all mixed in with fans throwing snowballs on the field and at Miami players, leading the stadium announcer to tell fans that if they continued to throw snowballs the Bills would get a penalty. The snow finally decided to fall with about 2 minutes left and the Bills in possession. Josh Allen led them down the field as snow started falling heavier, and after Bass connected with a short field goal, the kicker did snow angels on the field as Buffalo clinched the division with the win.
But as crazy as Saturday was, three NFL events on Sunday have people still talking.
Indianapolis vs. Minnesota
Indianapolis dominated the first half and led 33-0 heading into the locker room. PointsBet had Minnesota at 90/1 odds at halftime to come back and win the game while other books had the Vikings between 15 to 1 and 40/1. Minnesota scored five times in the second half, including three third quarter touchdowns and a 2-point conversion to send the game to OT. Greg Joseph kicked a 40-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in OT to give the Vikings the biggest comeback win in NFL history.
New England vs. Las Vegas
The next game that had everyone scratching their heads was the Las Vegas Raiders vs. New England Patriots game. New England seemed to have the game in hand after taking a 7-point lead with just over 3 minutes left. But Derek Carr led the Raiders downfield and with no time outs left and connected with Keelan Cole on the sideline of the endzone for a called touchdown. The play was under review for several minutes and though it appeared Cole’s right foot was out of bounds, the ref ruled there was not enough evidence to overturn the call, the suggestion being that maybe somehow he tapped his foot on the sideline even, though there was no evidence of that.
At around the 50-yard line with just a few seconds left in a now tie game, New England QB Mac Jones handed the ball to Stevenson who ran to the Las Vegas 23-yard line with the expectations he would go down and the game would go to OT. Instead, Stevenson lateralled the ball to Jacobi Meyers who in turn for no explicable reason threw the ball 20 yards backwards to Mac Jones. The ball was intercepted by Chandler Jones for Las Vegas and Mac Jones was unable to tackle him. Chandler Jones then ran it the 48 yards into the New England end zone for the win. This was a completely devastating loss for sportsbooks, who, almost to a tee, said all the money was on the Raiders.
Washington vs New York Giants
This was a good back and forth, close game. Washington had the ball at the 1-yard line with less than a minute left, down 8. RB Brian Robinson scored up-the-middle, which would have made it a 2-point game. The play, however, was called back as Terry McLaurin was called for illegal formation. What made the call so strange is that video showed McLaurin ask the sideline ref if he was in good formation and the ref gave him the thumbs up indicating he was ok. Yet as soon as the play went off, the ref threw the flag, and the touchdown was nullified. On the next play, 4th down, QB Taylor Heinicke threw in the end zone to Curtis Samuel, who was absolutely mauled by Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes. No pass interference call was made, however, despite it appearing Holmes was expecting the flag to be thrown. After the fans booed mercilessly, the Giants ran out the clock for the win.
To add to all the strange game proceedings, Jacksonville, who was 3-7 after a five game losing streak, is currently only a game back of Tennessee and a playoff spot thanks to a weak AFC South division and the NFC West is completely up for grabs as Tampa Bay leads with a 6-8 record and the other 3 teams are 5-9. It’s unbelievable that a team may qualify for the playoffs with a less than .400 winning percentage, but maybe not in 2022.
This weekend could offer up more holiday madness with the return of the ‘Mississippi Mustache’, Gardner Minshew, perhaps, for the 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles; the Jets and Lions are favored and somehow, are still in the playoff race, along with the Raiders; Tampa Bay, after collapsing vs the Forty Niners, still leads the NFC South and has a 73% chance of making the playoffs and the most unbelievable thing of all for Week 16, Jeff Saturday will still be on the sideline for the Colts vs. the Chargers . . . with Nick Foles at his QB1 . . . on MNF! Buckle Up!
As crazy as the past weekend was, it makes us realize why we love betting on sports and what makes the industry so interesting. No game is ever over until it’s over and no future bet is a loss despite how badly the team starts. Let the festivities begin!