On Sunday, September 23rd, the Buffalo Bills shocked America by pulling off the biggest surprise win of the 2018 NFL season so far. In fact, it was the biggest upset in over two decades. Not since a 1995 encounter between Washington and Dallas, has an underdog pulled off such a huge upset. Since that game, all 24 of the teams favored by 17 or more points had won their games. Minnesota was the 25th team to be favored by that much, but they ended up losing 27-6.
Since the AFL/NFL merger, according to ESPN, teams that were favored by at least 17 points had a record of 145-14. The Vikings became the 15th time a 17+ point favorite has lost during the Super Bowl era. Furthermore, the Bills are the second team to ever be an underdog of more than 14 points and end up winning the game by 14 points. According to Sports Illustrated, the only other team to do this was the St. Louis Rams against the Kansas City Chiefs in 1994.
The 6 points that Minnesota scored on Sunday against the Bills, was the fewest amount of points scored by a team favored by 17 points or more in the last 50+ years. The previous team to hold this dubious honor was the Baltimore Colts who were favored by 18 over the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. Joe Namath led the Jets to a stunning 16-7 upset victory over the Colts after making his famous guarantee that New York would win. In 1967, the Green Bay Packers were a 20 point favorite over the Vikings and ended up losing 10 to 7.
Both the Packers and the Colts only lost by single digits. That’s what makes Minnesota’s output historically bad. They not only lost by 21 points, but they were only able to score 6 total points against a team that had given up 78 points in the first two games.
How Did the Bills Upset the Vikings?
In reality, this was a total team effort. Buffalo caused three turnovers on defense, which killed multiple drives where the Vikings were trying to get back into the game. Buffalo hounded Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins all game long by sacking him 4 times, causing numerous quarterback hurries, and forcing the quarterback to turn the ball over on three different occasions. Additionally, Buffalo’s defense held the Vikings to just 14 yards rushing and didn’t allow Minnesota to score until a few minutes left in the game.
Offensively, rookie QB Josh Allen seemed to have Minnesota’s number as he threw for 1 TD and ran for 2 more touchdowns. Allen finished the game with a 111.2 passer rating. He made several highlight reel plays that will forever cement him in Buffalo Bills lore.
Overall, Buffalo played the best game that fans and critics have seen in a long time. It’s hard to recall the last time the Bills played this great. With that said, this could turn the entire season around for the Bills.
The Bills were Predicted to go 0-16
Prior to the game against the Vikings, the national media and sportsbooks were of the opinion that the Bills were going to be winless in 2018. They also thought Buffalo was going to be one of the worst teams in the history of the NFL.
One online sports betting site, MyBookie, listed the Bills at +450 to go 0-16. Do you realize how absurdly low those odds are for a team to not win a single game this season? Only two times in NFL history has a team gone 0-16: 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns.
There are a few other modern occasions where teams went winless in the NFL (just not 0-16):
- 1982 Baltimore Colts went 0-8-1 in a season that was cut short by a strike.
- 1976 went 0-14 in their NFL debut season. This was the all-time mark for losses in a season until the 2008 Lions.
- 1960 Dallas Cowboys went 0-11-1 in their NFL debut season.
Prior to 1960, there are dozens of winless seasons dating back to the early 1920’s. These seasons were anywhere from 1 to 7 games long.
As for any team to go 0-16 in a season, it’s just a very difficult thing to do and one where the odds should certainly be higher than +450 after just two weeks of a new season.
Losing Money on the Vikings
The majority of survival pools were crushed with the loss of the Vikings. Furthermore, especially in the survival league that I’m in, this loss comes two weeks after the Buccaneers upset the Saints in Week 1 of the season which also wrecked survival leagues. Bottom line, if you bought back in after being eliminated with the Saints loss, and just lost again with Vikings, you can blame NFL parity for that.
In addition to seeing tons of people admit that they lost in their survival pools via social media, there were also some big losses in Vegas with those bettors who took the Vikings’ moneyline. According to ESPN, the following notable wagers were placed on Minnesota:
- William Hill reported that one bettor wagered $18,000 on the Vikings moneyline at -1800. This individual would’ve won $1000 if Minnesota had won.
- The SuperBook reported that another bettor wagered $9,000 on the Vikings moneyline, which was -2000 just before kickoff. The bettor would’ve won $450 if Minnesota had won the game.
In addition to betting on the Vikings, South Point sportsbook took two separate moneyline wagers on the Bills, which paid out $12,000 and $11,000 respectively. William Hill reported that they took over 250 moneyline bets on the Bills with the largest being a $1,000 wager. At 10-to-1 odds, that wager netted the bettor $10K.
From the look of these numbers, it appears that sportsbooks most likely took a loss on the day with the Bills upsetting the Vikings.
What’s Next for Buffalo?
As you can see, the Bills pulled off a historic upset victory that not only shook up the NFL and killed survival pools, but they also rocked sportsbooks as well.
However, despite pulling off this massive upset, sportsbooks are still not giving the Bills any respect. Currently, “>online betting sites have the Bills listed as a -10 underdog on the road against the Green Bay Packers. Additionally, Buffalo has a +330 moneyline and the Packers have a -400 moneyline.
What are the odds that Buffalo can pull off two double digit upsets in consecutive weeks?