Thursday night’s showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks was not the most interesting of games.
You essentially had two really strong defenses, two really legitimate running attacks, and two very unimpressive quarterbacks trying to outdo one another for midseason NFC West glory. That’s it. At the end of the day, that’s all this game was about. And so, with that in mind, it probably shouldn’t come as much of a shock that the most intriguing aspect of this outing didn’t pertain to its lasting impact on either team; rather, the most intriguing aspect of this outing pertained directly to its impact on gamblers.
The Niners came into Thursday night as seven to eight point favorites. (They were playing at home.) In the fourth quarter with less than a minute remaining, they were up 13-6 and preparing to defend against a fourth-and-17 that the Seahawks were trying to convert from inside their own five-yard line. Russell Wilson was ultimately able to make a lengthy pass to Ben Obamanu. However, the officials called a chop block on Seattle – which nullified the pass completion and gave San Francisco a 15-6 lead by virtue of a 2-point safety. (Chop blocks result in 15-yard penalties and the Seahawks were on their own four-yard line.)
Or so we thought.
Fearing an onside kick recovery by the Seahawks, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh turned down the safety. The end result? A seven point win for San Fran – and a very bad night for everyone who had Niners -7.5 and -8.
The fallout wasn’t pretty.
Via Huffington Post:
“Although it was at San Francisco -7 for a good portion of the week, most bets we took were at -7.5 and -8,” Dave Mason of offshore sportsbook BetOnline.com told the National Football Post Thursday night. “So Harbaugh was definitely looking out for the house by taking points off the board, considering about 65% of the action we booked was on the 49ers.”
R.J. Bell of Pregame.com breaks down who got hosed, and for how much:
49ers -7 had money refunded (but would have won with the safety)
49ers -7.5 or -8 lost (but would have won with the safety)
Seahawks +7 had money refunded (but would have lost with the safety)
Seahawks +7.5 or +8 won (but would have lost with the safety)
Overall, it's safe to say that coach Harbaugh's unconventional decision resulted in a $75 million dollar swing worldwide with the bettors overall losing that amount (due to 65% of the action being on the 49ers) and the bookies overall winning that amount.
Still, gamblers should probably count their blessings. The last time a Seahawks game screwed over bettors, it caused anywhere from $100 million to $1 billion in worldwide bets to shift.