The NFL has once again shaken up the betting world.
We’re still only a few weeks removed from the controversial Touchception Game involving the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers that completely turned the league and the gambling industry upside their heads, and like deja vu rearing its ugly head again, another decision during an NFL game involving those same Seahawks swung bets in a major, major way.
This time, it’s not the fault of the replacement refs; they were booted out weeks ago in large part for their role in the Clueless in Seattle Game. It’s not even the league that made the call. It was a decision made by San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh late in their game against, oh yeah, those damn Seahawks that caused another ripple effect in the gambling world.
With less than two minutes left and the Niners ahead 13-6 on a game where they were favored by 7.5 to 8 points, the Seahawks committed a penalty on their own end zone, giving up a safety in the process and tacking two points to the 49ers score, giving the latter a 15-6 lead and an unexpected cover of the game.
But hold on.
When the Seahawks committed the penalty, they were facing 4th down and the ensuing incomplete pass meant that the ball would be turned over to the 49ers. The refs then gave Harbaugh the option of declining the penalty and taking away the safety from the score and instead, take the ball over on downs where they could just take the knee and let the game finish.
Harbaugh opted for the latter.
The final score: 13-6. More importantly, the Seattle Seahawks covered on yet another game they had no business covering.
Shortly after the game, LVH Sportsbook Director Jay Kornegay replied to a tweet asking if he’d ever seen anything like it before, saying “I have never seen that”, before adding, “Crazy to see that with the cover on the line.”
The two extra points that came from the safety would’ve allowed the Niners to cover the game. Instead, Harbaugh’s decision swung bets on another Seahawks game yet again. John Avello, head of the race and sports book for the Wynn in Las Vegas, told ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell that the fallout from this game was even crazier than the now infamous Fail Mary Game.
“If Harbaugh took the safety, this would have been an absolute disaster for us,” Avello said. “We would have had to return all bets at 9, which were almost all Seahawks bets, and everything else from 7 to 8½ were mostly 49ers bets, so they would have won.”
Bookmakers estimate that a total of about $300 million was bet on the game with about 65% of the bets on the 49ers. 65%. That’s a lot of shocked, confused, and downright distraught bettors.
In the first seven weeks of the NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks have covered point spreads in the most unimaginable ways possible. At this point, we wouldn’t be surprised if they go to Detroit next week and cover that game after Russell Wilson somehow kicks a 98-yard field goal to win the game.
It sounds ridiculous, especially since Wilson’s the quarterback and not the kicker. But at this point, who’s going to bet against this team particularly after the ways they’ve been covering the spreads this year.