Hundreds of like-minded NFL bets hit multiple sportsbooks Saturday night.
Most were small in stature and emanated from Michigan, New York and Virginia. But they weren't on the Detroit Lions, New York Giants, New York Jets or Washington Commanders. No, the flood of bets that began Saturday night and continued into Sunday were on, of all things, a kicker.
Caesars Sportsbook and BetMGM each reported taking around 500 bets on over/under 1.5 field goals made by Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. All of the bets were on the over at around even money. The largest of the bets at Caesars was $520. No other kicker prop attracted more than 26 bets.
The Carlson bets can be traced, in part, to a 30-year-old New Jersey sports bettor who prefers to go by Ducky and specializes in obscure player prop bets. He hosts a show on the Bearded Bettors podcast and writes a blog on Patreon called Duck Pond. He says he has around 1,900 subscribers and enjoys handicapping kickers, among other niche prop markets.
"You know the bets that everyone kind of scrolls through on DraftKings or Caesars and says, 'Who the hell bets that?'" Ducky said with a chuckle during a phone interview Sunday. "That's what I bet. I do kicking props. If there was a punting prop, I would do it."
Around 7 p.m. Saturday, Ducky posted a recommendation to bet over 1.5 field goals on Carlson, noting that the Broncos have the No. 1 red zone defense and that the Raiders has attempted at least two field goals in each of their first three games. Ducky's post helped ignite the rush of bets.
Johnny Avello, sportsbook director for DraftKings, told ESPN that it received a "plethora" of over bets on the Carlson prop and "only a handful on the under."
"When the logic exists, the masses chase and follow," Avello said.
Caesars Sportsbook managers said while there were many more bets on a kicker prop than normal, the liability wasn't large enough to catch their attention. Player props, however, are becoming a much bigger part of the action, they said.
"Props are almost the whole job anymore," said Eric Fenstermaker, senior trading manager for Caesars Sportsbook. "Sometimes a group will release a prop on Twitter or Reddit or wherever they post, and you'll get bombarded with people betting limit bets. So you're immediately moving those numbers, but something like the [Carlson prop], where the tickets are so small, it just doesn't hit our radar."
"You'd be surprised to see what the tickers look like on game day," added Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook. "It's a ton of props."
Carlson, who entered Sunday having made 32 consecutive field goals, hit four in the Raiders' 32-23 win over the Broncos, contributing, albeit mildly, to what several sportsbooks said was their first losing Sunday of the NFL season.
• After taking it on the chin in the first three weeks of the NFL season, bettors battled back in Week 4, handing multiple sportsbooks their first loss of the season.
"This was our worst Sunday of the season to date, one day after our best Saturday," John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN. "Win some, lose some."
Caesars and WynnBet also were among the sportsbooks reporting losing Sunday afternoons. The Raiders covering the spread in their win over the Broncos, the Cowboys covering in a win over the Commanders and the Arizona Cardinals covering in a win over the Carolina Panthers were among the best games for the betting public.
The New England Patriots covering the spread in an overtime loss to the Packers was the best game for multiple sportsbooks, but it still wasn't enough to dig them out of a hole entering the Sunday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's definitely a change from the first three weeks, when the results were pretty solid," Pullen of Caesars Sportsbook said.
• With Hurricane Ian closing in on Florida, the Chiefs were as high as 3.5-point road favorites over the Buccaneers during the week. The line dropped late in the week as the storm passed, and Tampa Bay ended up closing as 2-point favorites.
As of Wednesday, 77% of the money bet on the game's point spread was on the Chiefs at PointsBet. By Sunday morning, the action had flipped, with 53% of the money on the Buccaneers.
"Sharp money came in all week on Tampa," Murray of the SuperBook said. "We had a bad opener [line], posting Chiefs -3, and got hit early and often. And there was a final run of sharp play on Tampa when they ruled out all those receivers."
• At PointsBet, bettors piled on Aaron Rodgers to throw more than 1.5 touchdowns against the Patriots. Out of the hundreds of bets placed on Rodgers' passing touchdowns, only one was on the under. Rodgers threw two touchdowns as the Packers held off the Patriots 27-24 in overtime.
• Bettors at Caesars Sportsbook took the under on Josh Allen's passing touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens. Under 1.5 Allen passing TDs attracted the most bets and most money of any other under prop. Allen finished with one touchdown pass in the Buffalo Bills' 23-20 comeback win over the Ravens.
• While the NFL is by far the most popular American sport at sportsbooks in the United Kingdom, it is still dwarfed by soccer. At William Hill U.K. sportsbooks, the amount bet on the New Orleans Saints-Minnesota Vikings money line was only "1-2%" of the amount bet on the Manchester City-Manchester United winner, according to William Hill's head of U.S. sports, Chris Randall. Both games were played Sunday in London. The money line is the most popular way to bet on the NFL at U.K. sportsbooks.
On the other hand, Murray said he doubted that the handle on the Man City-Man United match in Las Vegas equaled even 5% of the action on the Saints-Vikings game.
• Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett saw his first action of the regular season in the Pittsburgh Steelers' loss to the New York Jets. On Mojo, a New Jersey platform that allows customers to buy and sell shares of stocks based on NFL player's career performance, Pickett's stock price increased 17% from $18.46 to $21.75. At the same time, the player Pickett replaced, Mitch Trubisky, saw his stock price tumble by over 13% from $27.03 to $23.36.
College football notables
• A bettor at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas placed a $545,000 money-line bet on USC to beat Arizona State at -4,500 odds. The bettor won a net $12,777.80 when the Trojans topped the Sun Devils 42-25.
BetMGM also reported taking a large money-line bet on heavily favored BYU to beat Utah State: $85,000 at -2,500 odds. BYU trailed early but prevailed 38-26, and the bettor won a net $3,400.
These type of giant money-line bets on heavy favorites are not common but happen more than most people would believe.
"It can be a sharp bettor or a general public bettor with a lot of money," Pullen said. "A lot of people feel safe betting a team just to win and not have to cover a huge spread. But history shows doing that in college sports is not the best angle. Upsets happen."
• A bettor with Caesars Sportsbook in New York placed a $10,000 two-leg money-line parlay on underdogs Florida International (+500) and Georgia Tech (+1,050). FIU beat New Mexico State and Georgia Tech upset Pittsburgh, and the bettor won $680,000.
• Notable college football opening lines (via Circa Sports):
Auburn at Georgia (-28, 47.5)
Texas (-5, 60.5) vs. Oklahoma
Tennessee (-4, 66.5) at LSU
TCU (-5, 50.5) at Kansas
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State (-11, 68.5)
Utah (-3, 65.5) at UCLA
Ohio State (-23, 61.5) at Michigan State
BYU at Notre Dame (-3, 51.5)
Texas A&M at Alabama (-20, 47.5)
• Air Force beat Navy 13-10 Saturday, staying under the 37.5 total. Since 2001, unders are now 50-11-3 in Commander-in--Chief's Trophy games involving Navy, Air Force and Army and 22-2-1 since 2014, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
• The four games that attracted the most lopsided point spread action at Caesars Sportsbook entering Saturday were: Georgia over Missouri, Minnesota over Purdue, Penn State over Northwestern and Baylor over Oklahoma State. All four teams failed to cover the spread, and three of the four lost outright.