Why, why, WHY are bettors backing the Detroit Lions?

Friday, 20 August 2021 16:01 EST

Bets on Detroit Lions at BetMGMOn Wednesday ran the story from Bet MGM: “One proud bettor placed a $20 wager on the Detroit Lions to become king of the longshots this season.A bettor with BetMGM took the Lions at +150000 odds [i.e. 1500/1] to lead the NFL in wins in 2021.If the Lions beat the odds and come through, the ticket would cash for $30,000.”

Certainly this kind of bet happens every year, though typically such stories center on some wacky dude throwing $1,000 at the longest of longshots to win the Super Bowl, likesay any Cleveland Browns team between 2008 and ’18.

Instead this not-necessarily-newsworthy non-story (“Our Top Story Tonight: Fan Wastes $20 Betting On Sports!”) acted as mere lede before the heart of the matter:

“BetMGM has taken more than 80% of total bets on team win totals on the Lions to exceed five victories in 17 regular-season games in 2021. As of August 9, the Lions ‘over’ on five wins was the most bet regular-season win total at BetMGM.”

Over/under win totals are clearly a more popular – and much saner – bet than the wager made by MGM’s 20-burning “proud bettor”, and here’s Bet MGM telling us that a substantial majority of all bets in the prop are on the Lions going over 5 wins.

NFLbets admits to uncertainty about the actual numbers; would  the folks at BetMGM have us believe that, among the 32 over/under win total betting the sportsbook have taken have been on the Detroit Lions? And if so, why the need for the rejoinder? If the Lions are drawing 80% of all bets, then clearly Lions over-5 is the single most frequently bet outcome. Something is suspicious and/or poorly worded here…

No matter: MGM is apparently letting slip some valuable and potentially costly information by releasing the story/stories. With the sportsbook signaling the masses about this 80%, how many part-time degenerate gamblers were triggered into thinking “Hey, maybe there is something in this Lions getting six wins” – though continuing with the stretching of credulity further, how many NFL bettors are really lining up to bet Lions over 5 wins at -150.

Alternatively, perhaps the BetMGM folks are betting (so to speak) that such a press release will bring the bettors through the virtual doors. On the over, BetMGM and one of the DraftDuel/FanKings twosome are offering Lions over-5 wins at -149 or -150, while Lions under 5 wins will pay out at +120 to +125. Meanwhile most other online sportsbooks are posting opposite lines in the prop: You'll mostly get +100 on +120 on the over and -120 to -140 on the under.

As for NFLbets’ take on the Detroit Lions themselves in 2021, entering the season with a brand-new head coach Dan Campbell (last employed as tight ends coach in New Orleans) and potentially done quarterback Jared Goff, well, we’ve ultimately concluded these Lions are good for maybe four wins. 0-17 probably isn’t likely but 6-11 seems well out of reach.

OF course, we're sure this flood of pro-Lions bets into BetMGM (not to mention the ridiculously low payout) has nothing to do at all with the sponsorship deal the bookie and the team agreed upon going into last season...

Proud Bettor of the Bet MGM story would’ve been better advised to plunk the $20 down on the over in the “Detroit over/under total wins” prop. With three seasons of average record slightly under 5-11, about the best pro-Lions can hope for is a push, NFLbets believes…

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.