Here’s a look at the top stories for the week, top bets cashed and what’s next in the world of sports betting.
NFL Playoff Race Finale: The final week of the 2023 National Football League season is here. While some teams already know their seeding in the NFL playoffs and may rest their players, other teams are fighting for the final spots. Heading into Week 17, six of 14 playoff spots were clinched. As we enter Week 18, there are now nine of 14 spots secured, with the final games of the season to decide the last five spots.
Still up for grabs is the top spot of the NFC South, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8), New Orleans Saints (8-8) and Atlanta Falcons (7-9) all still fighting for the division title. The AFC South is also up for grabs, with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans all tied with 9-7 records.
Two games will air on Saturday, Jan. 6 on ESPN, ABC and ESPN+, all units of The Walt Disney Company. Those games include a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens and the divisional matchup between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts at 8:15 p.m. ET.
Sunday features 14 games, giving bettors plenty of opportunities to wager on NFL matches. The final game of the week is the Sunday Night Football showdown between the Buffalo Bills (10-6) and Miami Dolphins (11-5) that will air on NBC, a unit of Comcast Corporation. The Bills, who have not clinched a spot in the playoffs are 2.5 point favorites on DraftKings Inc DKNG. The winner of the game will win the AFC East divisional title.
NCAA Football Championship: The NCAA Football Championship takes place on Monday Jan. 8, with undefeated Michigan and Washington facing off. Michigan is the favorite in the game with odds of -4.5 and a money line of -192. A Washington win would pay out +160. The previous odds to win the championship were Michigan at +180, Alabama at +200, Texas at +260 and Washington at +700.
Pistons Streak Over: The Detroit Pistons lost 28 straight games, setting a new single-season NBA record. Benzinga previously shared that betting against the Pistons could have been quite profitable over the streak. The Pistons defeated the Toronto Raptors 129-127. The Pistons have not won since and remain 3-31 on the season. The team lost close games in overtime prior to its losing streak ending.
Big Bets: While many bettors may have won big or had big parlays pay out, this week, two particular bettors are getting recognized in the Sports Betting Weekly Wrap.
A bettor at FanDuel, which is a unit of Flutter Entertainment PDYPY, wagered 35 cents on the exact score of the NCAA Football semifinal game between Washington and Texas. The correct wager of a score of Washington 37 and Texas 31 paid out at odds of +29,000, turning the 35 cent bet into a $101.85 payday. To make things even crazier, the bet was placed because of a dream.
“Literally had 35 cents left in the account and had a dream about the game last night and that was the score,” the bettor said.
Another big bet happened, when a $5 bonus bet from Fanduel was placed on a same-game NBA parlay Thursday night. The bet included Giannis Antetokounmpo having 40 or more points, Victor Wembanyama having 25 or more points, Damian Lillard having 25 points or more and Devin Vassell making five or more three-point shots. The players ended with 44 points, 27 points, 25 points and six three-pointers respectively, making the bet a winner and turning the $5 bonus into $3,396.92.
Most Bet on Teams/Players: Year-end data shared by sportsbook Bet365 revealed the most bet-on teams in North American sports leagues and some of the most bet-on players. In MLB, the most popular bet-on teams were the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays. In NFL, the most bet-on teams were the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. In the NBA, the most bet-on teams were the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. The most bet-on NBA players were Nikola Jokic, Luca Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the NHL, the most bet-on teams were the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights. The most bet-on NHL players were Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon and David Pastrnak.
Bet365 also revealed the huge impact that Lionel Messi‘s joining of Major League Soccer team Inter Miami had on betting on soccer and MLS games.