So the NFL did its ouroboros thing again this year. Lots of parity. Or so it would seem. But 2012 mostly just brought us a handful of excellent teams—Football Outsiders says three of the 12 best teams since 1991 (Seahawks, Broncos, and Patriots)—and some supremely terrible ones. The result is that, according to the Los Angeles Times, sportsbooks took a bath on NFL bets in 2012:
The problem for Las Vegas sports books is that many popular NFL teams beat the point spread during the regular season. And with many bettors combining their picks in parlays, $20 wagers turned into payouts of up to more than $1,000, depending on how many winning bets they combined.
The result is what one Las Vegas sports bookmaker called a "staggering" financial hit from the NFL regular season, as bettors handed Nevada sports books their worst year in memory.
"We know the general public now has tremendous sources of information, that the regular player is sharper than the guy 10 years ago, but we've never seen a streak like this before," said Jay Kornegay, a 25-year veteran who heads the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino's 30,000-square-foot Race and Sports book.
"It's like you're a passenger trapped on a train to hell," said Jay Rood, whose 12 MGM Resorts' sports books at properties including Mandalay Bay, Mirage and Bellagio took a seven-figure hit [in Week 9, when underdogs went 2-10].
Occasionally sportsbooks will shift lines based on lopsided action, but they do their damnedest to avoid it. So when the public bets favorites, as it does, the books wind up rooting for the underdogs.
And—Brian Hoyer's Sunday miracle in San Francisco aside—it's been a bad year for underdogs. The Eagles, Cardinals, Titans, Jaguars, Raiders, and Chiefs all allowed 100 more points than they scored, which, given the general quality of their opponents, explains just how un-frisky they were. But Vegas, the LAT reports, plans to review the year soon and adjust going forward. We'd expect some juicy, juicy backdoor-cover opportunities in 2013.