If you looked at the NFL's prime-time schedule ahead of Week 1, Week 8's Sunday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers is one you might have had circled. The Packers were viewed as one of the contenders in the NFC, while the Bills were the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl. You could have easily talked yourself into viewing it as a potential Super Bowl preview.
However, that hype was muted even before kickoff. The Bills were 10.5-point favorites on their home field over the Packers. It was the first time in Aaron Rodgers' career he was a double-digit underdog. As kickoff approached, bettors weren't even confident that Green Bay could keep the game somewhat close. At BetMGM, 68% of the money was on the Bills to cover as a 10.5-point favorite.
The game started off as many expected. The Bills opened a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter thanks to touchdowns from Dawson Knox and Stefon Diggs. By halftime, the Bills were out to a 24-7 lead. Bettors who had the Bills were feeling pretty confident. Additionally, 62% of bets and 70% of the money was on the game to go over 47 points. After a high-scoring first half, those bettors felt good as well.
Quickly, the feelings for both Bills and over bettors changed in what could best be described as a weird second half. Despite the Packers being down three scores and having a back-to-back MVP as their quarterback in Rodgers, they were content in establishing the run. It didn't feel like they actually thought they could come back and win the game and instead were focused on establishing something on offense they could build off of moving forward.
The teams exchanged field goals in the third quarter, as both teams saw drives fizzle out just inside the red zone. While it wasn't a great development for over bettors, they still had a very solid chance of cashing their bets. However, what happened on the next four drives could best be described as pain for bettors on many sides of the aisle.
The Packers drove the ball into field-goal range on their ensuing possession but were faced with a fourth-and-1 decision on Buffalo's 26-yard line. Green Bay needed a field goal at some point as they were down 17 points, but instead decided to go for it. Aaron Jones was stuffed and the Packers turned the ball over on downs. No points for over bettors, but at least Bills bettors were feeling good.
Josh Allen and Rodgers then both threw interceptions on their ensuing drives. After Rodgers' interception, the Bills drove the ball to the Packers' 3-yard line. With the chance to get some much needed points for over bettors and the opportunity to all but cement a Bills cover, Allen threw an interception on third-and-goal from the 3-yard line. This continued to leave the backdoor wide open for the Packers, and finally they barged through.
The Packers moved the ball down field into Buffalo territory. On first-and-10 from the 37, Samori Toure, a depth receiver forced into action due to injuries to Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Christian Watson, dropped a catchable 20-yard gain from Rodgers. However, in a rare display of forgiveness from Rodgers, he targeted Toure on his very next throw and found him wide open in the end zone for a Packers touchdown. Suddenly, the Packers were down just 10 points and covering the spread. Over bettors needed three more points for a push and a touchdown for a win.
After a second half filled with turnovers and field goals, over bettors had a chance to at least get their money back and settle for a push when Mason Crosby lined up for a 55-yard field goal with 40 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for them, Crosby's kick wasn't particularly close. The Bills regained possession and took a knee. It was a slow burning death for those that had the over and Buffalo. We all felt it coming and those bets that felt so good at halftime went up in smoke.
Heartbreak for Panthers moneyline bettors
Of course, when the 3-4 Atlanta Falcons played host to the 2-5 Carolina Panthers in Week 8, we all knew that first place in the NFC South would be on the line. We were also well aware that these two teams would give us arguably one of the best games of the season to date.
Oddsmakers weren't expecting much in terms of fireworks in this one. The total was just 41 points. Leading into the game, it appeared that Arthur Smith didn't trust Marcus Mariota to throw the ball and the Panthers were starting P.J. Walker. It was an ugly game on paper.
It was a pretty slow start in the first half as the Falcons entered the locker room with a 14-10 lead thanks to a pick-six touchdown from Lorenzo Carter. However, in the fourth quarter, things got wild.
Carolina tied the game at 21 thanks to a touchdown and two-point conversion from D'Onta Foreman. Younghoe Koe put Atlanta back in front with a 30-yard field goal. However, on the ensuing Panthers possession, Foreman put Carolina back in front with a 12-yard rushing touchdown to make it 28-24. On Atlanta's next possession, Mariota found Damiere Byrd for a 47-yard catch and run that put the Falcons up three with just over two minutes remaining.
The Panthers got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead, but instead, they went 4-and-out and handed the ball back to Atlanta with tremendous field position. However, the Panthers' defense held strong and they used some timeouts. An Atlanta field goal made it 34-28 with just 36 seconds remaining.
However, 36 seconds and no timeouts proved to be too much time for P.J. Walker. Walker found D.J. Moore in the end zone for a 62-yard score to tie the game at 34, with an extra point having the potential to give the Panthers the lead and the win. Understandably, Moore was hyped.
PJ WALKER JUST DID THAT. HAIL MARY TO DJ MOORE. pic.twitter.com/dDYwoZhaGG
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2022
However, by removing his helmet in celebration, Moore was penalized 15 yards. The Falcons chose to enforce that penalty on the extra point, which turned Eddy Pineiro's point-after-attempt into a 48-yard boot. Pineiro missed the kick and we were headed to overtime.
The Falcons won the toss and elected to receive. However, Mariota was intercepted by C.J. Henderson, who then returned the ball all the way to the Falcons 20. Carolina needed only a field goal to walk off a winner. Unfortunately for them, Pineiro was not able to shake off his previous miss and compounded the issue by missing a 32-yard field goal.
Atlanta had new life and drove the ball into Carolina territory. The big play was a 30-yard scramble from Mariota. Younghoe Koo booted a 41-yard field goal to give the Falcons the win and sole possession of first place in the NFC South. The Panthers were a 32-yard field goal away from being on top of the division. Instead, they dropped to 2-6 and are now tied for the third-worst record in the league.
It's one of those games where both sides feel like they were on the wrong side of a bad beat. The Falcons had a six-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining. As long as they don't allow P.J. Walker to throw a Hail Mary, they cover the four-point spread. While Panthers bettors got the cover, anyone who had them at +165 on the moneyline must feel sick this morning.
Kyle Shanahan continues to dominate Sean McVay
Ahead of the NFC championship game last January, there was a lot of talk about how Kyle Shanahan has dominated Sean McVay. However, McVay and the Rams pulled off the victory to advance to the Super Bowl (and ultimately win it), though Shanahan's 49ers covered the spread as a 3.5-point underdog.
If perhaps you thought that playoff victory would change McVay's fortunes against Shanahan, think again. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday by a score of 31-14, winning outright as a 1.5-point road underdog.
In the regular season, Shanahan is now 9-3 against McVay both straight up and against the spread. The Rams have not beaten the 49ers in the regular season since 2018. If we include last year's playoff matchup, Shanahan is 10-3 against the number vs. McVay, though his straight-up record drops to 9-4. The 49ers went 2-0 against the Rams this season, outscoring them 55-23 in the process. Against the rest of the league, San Francisco is 2-4 and has been outscored 124-121.
Shanahan is 9-3 against McVay and 34-43 against every other coach. On the flipside, McVay is 3-9 against Shanahan and 55-21 against everyone else.