Sports gambling column: Week 15

My chances to win my open bets were severely damaged by two games in the NFL this past week, both of which were decided by a single point.

First, the Chiefs battled the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. This was a high-profile matchup for three reasons: the two quarterbacks featured (Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs and Philip Rivers of the Chargers) are both top candidates for the NFL Most Valuable Player Award, this game featured the AFC’s top two contenders, and its result will go a long way in deciding which of these teams will win the AFC West. The Chiefs looked dominant at first, jumping out to a 14-0 lead while playing some of the best defense we’ve seen out of them this season. But Rivers and the Chargers were able to stick around even without star receiver Keenan Allen, who left the game early with a hip injury. In the second half, the Chargers’ pass rushers were able to bother Mahomes, causing multiple defensive stops that allowed the Chargers to get the ball twice between the eight and three-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Down by seven and needing a score to tie the game, the Chargers faced a third-and-goal on the ten-yard-line with 13 seconds left. The referees must have known that I have money on the Chiefs to win the division because they gifted the Chargers with a horrible pass interference call on Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller. In the moment, the commentators could tell the call was a bad one, because Fuller barely touched Chargers receiver Mike Williams. But, the call stood, and the Chargers got the ball on the one-yard-line. I was further infuriated on the next play when Williams pushed off of Fuller before bobbling the ball as he went out of bounds. The play was ruled a touchdown, and other than when former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant’s infamous “Dez caught it” play happened, it’s starting to feel like the NFL’s confusing catch rules never seem to go my way. Instead of opting to tie the game by kicking the extra point, the Chargers decided to go for the win via a two-point conversion, and the Chiefs defense showed its true colors by leaving Williams wide-open in the end zone for the winning score. There were only four seconds left in the game after that play, so the Chiefs didn’t even get a chance to run a play after that. The Chargers walked off the field with a 29-28 win after losing the previous nine games they played against the Chiefs.

That game was probably the worst “bad beat” I’ve ever had, and it is appalling that the Chiefs were able to lose a game in regulation in which they led by 14 with under four minutes left. To win the division, the Chiefs will have to end up with an equal or better record than the Chargers, as the Chiefs have the tiebreaker (better record in AFC West games). It won’t be easy for the Chiefs to win the division, as they have to play the Seahawks on the road before hosting the Raiders while the Chargers have two very winnable games against the Ravens and Broncos to end the regular season. Financially, I’m counting on the Chiefs to come through.

As for the other one-point game, it was the nail in the coffin for my bet on the Broncos to make the playoffs. I thought the home altitude would help the Broncos stave off a pesky Browns team, but the Browns’ rookies, quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb, were able to make enough plays against a Broncos defense that lost one of its best players in cornerback Chris Harris Jr. to a season-ending injury two weeks ago. The Broncos still had a chance to win the game with a field goal, as they were at the 50-yard-line with only 52 seconds left. But three straight incomplete passes from quarterback Case Keenum and a fourth-down sack of Keenum by Browns defensive back Jabrill Peppers sealed the game for the Browns, and sealed this bet as a loss for me.

So, not much is looking good for me at the moment. I bet on the Rams and Patriots to win their respective divisions, and both teams looked like non-contenders in losses this week. Looking towards next week, I like the Raiders at +125 at home on Monday Night Football against the aforementioned Broncos, who are one of the most banged-up teams in the NFL and may give up as they have nothing to play for anymore. See you next week.


Money spent to date: $120

Winnings to date: $45.59