Here is hoping if you bet upon the Cleveland Browns at +3.5 or any facsimile thereof last Monday night in their 47-42 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, you have been able to gather some restful sleep by now.
If you wagered upon the Ravens, here is also hoping you have stopped dancing this week and realize you are not a special person nor blessed by the Lord. Your day to visit Bad Beat Island will come. Just not perhaps as brutal a rocket ship journey getting there.
Destined to be an NFL Classic Game
A key AFC North division game like this was destined to be great as the schedule was rolled out early last Summer. Everyone expected the Ravens to compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top, but nobody truly forecasted the Browns to have the upper hand vs. the Ravens by Week 14. As it turned out, it was the Ravens that were more in the desperate position at 7-5, needing a win to keep their wild card hopes alive, with the Steelers a runaway division champ and possible number one seed for the playoffs.
For the Browns, it was a matter of pride, having taken a backseat to the Ravens for several years and being in the unfamiliar position of riding a winning streak in route to an impressive 9-3 record.
Unfortunately, the oddsmakers did not agree and weighed the Ravens desperation and experience a major factor. A majority of all the top preferred sportsbooks provided the Ravens an opening -2.5 edge. By game time, bettors were not fazed and a consensus including top books Bovada, WagerWeb and YouWager provided Baltimore a closing -3.5 figure. Keep that number in mind as it will forever be remembered for those who bet upon those +3.5 Browns.
Just Who Was on the Right Side?
By the end of the third quarter Ravens bettors had every right to feel confident they were on the right side holding a 34-20 lead and lots of momentum. Surely, whoever held 'over' on the game total wager already had their money in the bank. That is when the mayhem was just beginning.
The Browns marched down the field to score a touchdown. Then taking a page from the Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, went for an unconventional two-point conversion. It was successful, cutting the lead to six points instead of seven and leaving the Browns down 34-28 with plenty of 4th quarter to go.
Not that long after on the Browns next possession, another 12-play drive ended with that fun QB Baker Mayfield slide into the endzone and now a Cleveland 35-34 lead. Too bad for the COVID-19 pandemic, for there would have been a roaring pandemic of dog pound crazies going nuts with excitement in the stadium.
This taught Ravens bettors and all football fans watching to not count either a win or a wagering win too early.
But wait . . . with less than five minutes left, here comes another unforgettable image. Starting Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson storming out of locker room with an "S" cape pasted on his Ravens jersey to replace severely injured back-up QB Trace McSorley. Jackson had gone off the field earlier due to severe cramps and was thought to be done for the evening.
Almost like it was written for a Hollywood script, Jackson calmly tosses a 44-yard touchdown pass to WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and then all of a sudden, Ravens fans and bettors are singing gleefully up 42-35 approaching the two-minute warning.
No problem for Mayfield and the Browns, who erased that lead in less than a minute with a skillful, quick drive down the field and a 22-yard pass to Kareem Hunt for a Browns touchdown to tie the game 42-42 and a prayer to win it in overtime.
Here is where it gets tricky and the most important lessons for those of us who bet on sports, especially football.
Holding a +3.5 Browns ticket and less than :50 left for the Ravens with no timeouts, you must feel particularly good about your chances. Baltimore simply wants enough yards for Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker to get in range to win the game, securing a 3-point win.
That is exactly what took place as Superman QB Jackson guided the Ravens into field goal position for a booming 55-yard field goal by Tucker to win the game by a final score 45-42. But wait a minute . . . did we say final score?
It what will be forever remembered as "The Three Stooges" lateral drill, the Browns desperately tossed the pigskin backwards four times attempting to go forward without being tackled.
The result: the most improbable out-of-the-end zone safety that ever ended a football game and also deciding the wagering outcome as well.
For Browns bettors, a feeling equivalent to an unscheduled colonoscopy while waiting for their surf and turf dinner to arrive. For a Ravens bettor, the dream of having Ariana Grande stroll into their neighborhood bar and ask them to take her home for the night. Something that simply cannot happen, but just did.
Final Score: Ravens 47 (-3.5) (W)
Browns 42 (+3.5) (L)
Sports Betting 101
We all should forever remember this classic football game for not only the tremendous excitement it delivered, but the most important sports betting lessons it also provided.
First and most critical, shop around!! As I have previously lectured 1,000 times, we all have ourselves to blame for only joining one sportsbook and losing out to not obtaining the difference a potential half point can make. If not for the unforgettable miracle safety in this game, it would have mattered as the Ravens were a -3 choice at some top sportsbook locations.
Next this outcome proved the advantages and disadvantaged of in-game wagering. Most top sportsbooks report increased popularity of in-game wagering. The Browns-Ravens game provided some excellent opportunity to get involved and reap rewards in the 2nd half depending on which side you were on.
In addition, DO NOT assume you have won a wager until it is officially over and completed. This game provided at least three opportunities to claim wager victory before the outcome was decided, in the last 2 minutes!! This habit is especially dangerous on NFL Sundays as many assume early victory while planning strategies to wager on late NFL Sunday games.
Last and certainly not least, if anything, the miracle safety taught us is how much LUCK is involved in betting.
If you wagered upon the Browns, going to sleep on Monday night must have felt that you have done evil things in life and this was the revenge due for those actions. In contrast, Ravens bettors figured the safety was the beginning of good things to come or a sign of their wagering IQ.
The undeniable fact is it was neither. This simply was a game that luck was going to win out either way, depending on which side you were on. The true reward will be remembering it as possibly the greatest betting game of all-time and one to tell the kids and your old friends about.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.