• Among the five most excruciating betting losses in this week's SI Backdoor Cover Jinx are brutal beats from the MAC on Thursday night to a possible NFL playoff preview on Sunday night.
By Max Meyer
October 29, 2018

“Man, forget fantasy and forget Vegas today. We got the win, so that’s all that matters.”

It’s easy to blame Todd Gurley after the Rams star tailback passed up a touchdown in favor of icing the game, which cost bettors who backed the Rams as 7.5-point favorites.

But let’s be honest: It simply wasn’t the right side. The Rams were on the right side of the number for a minuscule 97 seconds the entire game. The Packers failing to cover +7.5 when Ty Montgomery made the ill-advised decision to return a kickoff instead of taking the touchback and placing the ball in Aaron Rodgers’s hands down two points—now that would have been a brutal betting loss.

Good for Gurley for wisely slowing up before the end zone. Why give Rodgers a chance, albeit an extremely small one, to pull off a comeback for the ages rather than end the game right then and there?

If you want to blame someone for losing Rams -7.5, blame yourself. Laying over a touchdown against arguably the most talented quarterback in NFL history is a risky proposition. The Packers under Mike McCarthy have historically been excellent after a bye week.

So let’s not be angry at any player for costing us a bet. Instead, let’s just appreciate that we can bet on football on each of the next 22 days.

Before we dive into the five most excruciating betting losses from this past week of football, as always, here’s our mood music to accompany this SI Backdoor Cover Jinx. 

And no, Rams -7.5 didn’t make the cut. Onward!

5. Broncos/Chiefs Under 27 First Half

If you’ve been betting the over on Chiefs games this year, you’d be up a significant amount of money. That didn’t appear to be the case here if you took the over in the first half, as the two teams scored a combined 17 points in the game’s first 29 minutes.

The Chiefs can score at a moment’s notice, but the over appeared grim when they started off their possession from their own eight-yard line with 5:18 left in the half. It only took eight plays for this high-powered machine to put up points, though, as it was capped by Sammy Watkins being on the receiving end of another Patrick Mahomes touchdown throw, this one being from 13 yards out.

The good news? With the Chiefs leading 16-7 (thanks to a Harrison Butker missed extra point after that TD), only a touchdown would result in a loss. And there were only 54 seconds left until the break.

The bad news? You had to trust the Chiefs defense to make a stop.

The latter reared its ugly head, as a Case Keenum nine-yard scramble and a 42-yard completion to Courtland Sutton put the under in jeopardy. Two incompletions brought the clock down to 12 seconds.

The Chiefs just needed possibly one stop before the Broncos would have to kick a field goal, yet the defense couldn’t come through, as it surrendered a 24-yard touchdown catch to Tim Patrick with five seconds left.

The full-game under won by half a point, but those that bet it in just the first half weren’t as fortunate.

4. Appalachian State/Georgia Southern Under 47.5

This was a bummer to start the betting week, as this Sun Belt showdown took place on Thursday night.

Appalachian State lost quarterback Zac Thomas to injury early on, and its offense looked putrid without him on the field. Those who bet on the Mountaineers in their first ranked game in program history were burned, as Georgia Southern built a 27-7 lead after three quarters.

Backup quarterback Peyton Derrick was ineffective, and after Derrick threw his second interception of the game, Appalachian State went with third-string QB Jacob Huesman under center. His first drive? Interception. His second drive? Interception. The second turnover was especially costly, as Georgia State returned it to the Mountaineers 33-yard line with six minutes to go.

An 18-yard touchdown run by Wesley Fields put the exclamation point on the upset, as the Eagles padded their lead to 34-7.

Still, another touchdown needed to be scored for this game to go over. And it seemed like the collegiate version of Nathan Peterman wasn’t going to get it done.

Until, of course, he started moving the ball down the field. Huesman led Appalachian State in the red zone after converting two third downs, and they were inside the 10-yard line with 31 seconds left.  

Two incompletions and a Huesman four-yard run put it at fourth-and-goal with 10 seconds left. Huesman found Malik Williams in the end zone for an improbable over, a Thursday loss that sends a shiver of doubt when placing any bet for the upcoming weekend.

3. Browns/Steelers Under 50.5

This number opened at 50.5, closed at 47.5 and yours truly got the under at 49.

Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown from one-yard out with 10 seconds left in the first half, but under bettors were surely content with a 14-6 score at the break.

Things got weird in the third quarter. Browns offensive lineman Desmond Harrison was flagged for holding in the end zone, giving the Steelers two points on the safety. On the ensuing free kick, Ryan Switzer let the free kick go over his head, thinking the Steelers would start their next possession where the Browns touched the ball.

Except that’s not the rule. The Browns recovered the kick (and didn’t even think to return it for a touchdown, making the play a perfect microcosm of the Hue Jackson era), and took advantage with an Antonio Callaway receiving touchdown to make it 16-12.

The Steelers responded with James Conner galloping to the end zone to make it 23-12 late in the third, and now the under was starting to look dicey. A Chris Bowell 42-yard field with 13:33 left didn’t help matters either.

The two AFC North foes, however, went the next 10-plus minutes without scoring. The Steelers had the ball up 26-12, and just needed a first down on third-and-three to essentially ice the game. But James Conner didn’t pull a Gurley by stopping short of the end zone, as he took it 22 yards to the house with 2:04 remaining to make it 33-12.

In the final Browns drive under Jackson, Cleveland went 75 yards in nine plays. Baker Mayfield threaded a 24-yard scoring dart to Seth DeValve on fourth-and-six with six seconds left to provide the devastating blow to every under bettor, no matter what the number was. Even a pointless missed two-point conversion didn’t matter, the damage was done with the 33-18 score.

2. Nebraska -41

It’s been a rough season for Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers took out their frustrations on Bethune-Cookman. Bethune-Cookman was down 45-3 when the Wildcats got an interception and started with the ball at its own 18-yard line with 7:08 remaining.

The subsequent drive was an art of how to kill clock.

Except … it was Bethune-Cookman, yes the team trailing by 42 points, that was letting the time tick away.

After the first play of its drive, a six-yard run, here’s how much time was left on the play clock when Bethune-Cookman snapped the ball over the next six plays: nine seconds, delay of game, six, six, three, zero (should have been another delay of game), three.

With the clock still running after the delay of game, Bethune-Cookman was about to wipe out over a minute on just one play!

Let me emphasize this further: After starting at its own 18-yard line with 7:08 left, Bethune-Cookman snapped the ball at its own 45-yard line with 2:12 remaining.

Then the sweats began to accumulate after Alfred Adams scampered 30 yards to the Nebraska 25-yard line. On the next play, Jabari Dunham connected with Tyrese Spain for 18 more yards, which was the only throw of the drive.

Bethune-Cookman was finally in business after not scoring a touchdown all day. A two-yard run by Adams put the ball at the Nebraska five-yard line.

Now, Adams was tackled with 43 seconds left and Bethune-Cookman had two timeouts. The Wildcats let the clock go all the way down to two seconds (!!!) before snapping it again, and Adams found the end zone with only zeroes showing on the scoreboard.

So Nebraska won 45-9, with Bethune-Cookman pulling off one of the more remarkably inefficient backdoor cover drives in football history.

1. Vikings +0.5 First Half

The Saints struck first with a touchdown on their first drive, but after that, the Vikings dominated the first half. Minnesota reached the end zone on its first two possessions, with Stefon Diggs and Latavius Murray each scoring from one yard out. Dan Bailey missed his second extra-point try, though, leaving the possibility open for a 14-13 Saints cover in the first half if New Orleans scored a touchdown.

Instead the Saints cut the deficit to 13-10 after Wil Lutz drilled a 52-yard field goal with 7:27 left in the half. New Orleans got the ball back after a punt, however, Drew Brees threw his first interception of the year just past midfield to give Minnesota bettors a huge sigh of relief.

Minnesota once again drove the ball down the field, and made it to the red zone following a 12-yard catch by Murray to put it at the 18-yard line.

So here’s the scene: Vikings are up 13-10, are in the red zone and the clock is showing 1:11 left in the second quarter. Minnesota bettors had to be counting their winnings by now, right?

Then, catastrophe struck.

Adam Thielen, who has been the unquestioned best receiver in the NFL this season, put the ball on the ground after gaining four yards. Marshon Lattimore picked up the loose pigskin and was off to the races. The star cornerback was tackled at the Minnesota 33-yard line after a 54-yard return, which completely swung the game.

To add insult to injury, Vikings wideout Laquon Treadwell was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after taking off his helmet on the field, which gave the Saints an additional 15 yards.

Minnesota bettors still were clinging onto hope. All the Vikings had to do was limit the Saints to a field goal, since a 13-13 tie at half would still be good for a cash. Those hopes vanished two plays later, as Alvin Kamara followed up his 17-yard catch with a one-yard touchdown run.

At least the Vikings still had 30 seconds left and two timeouts along with one of the best receiver duos in the league and a quarterback who can sling it. Instead, Mike Zimmer opted for a seven-yard Mike Boone run to end the half trailing 17-13.

Yet, this finish still pales in comparison to the one that occurred the previous time these two teams faced off.

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