A quartet of Carolina Panthers fans gathered Sunday afternoon in a packed sportsbook at the Aria. They were looking over some betting sheets, making conversation while waiting for the early NFL games to end, hoping they could then get a seat for the kickoff of Carolina’s regular-season finale against visiting Tampa Bay.
Two thoughts came to mind: First, these guys, all in Carolina jerseys, must be putting some money on the Panthers.
“I never bet on them,” said Taylor Ivey, a Charlotte, North Carolina native who now lives in Washington, D.C. “In fantasy football, I’ll always start Panthers players, no matter the matchup, but I’ll never bet them, even against Tampa Bay. It’s bad luck.”
So, onto the second thought: They must be disappointed that, a week earlier, Atlanta ruined Carolina’s perfect season.
Wrong again, but with far better commentary.
“If you were to tell me at the beginning of the season that we’d be 14-1 going into the last week of the season, I’d have shat a brick,” Ivey said. “It’s been an amazing season. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. I’ll take the Super Bowl over a perfect regular season.”
So what bets were Ivey and buddies Eric Wemlinger, Tyler Ingram and Kyle Case looking at?
“Arizona-Seattle,” Ivey said, noting the matchup of two teams guaranteed a playoff spot, but with the Seahawks locked into the No. 6 seed, while the Cardinals still had a chance at the No. 1 seed – if the Panthers lost again. “I guess you’ve gotta go with Arizona. The Cardinals have something to play for, Seattle doesn’t.”
Wemlinger agreed and was preparing to take it a step further by pulling the trigger on a two-team parlay: the Cards laying six points at home, and San Diego catching eight points at Denver.
“The Cardinals are probably the best or second-best team in the NFC, and Seattle’s not really playing for anything,” said Wemlinger, also in from D.C. “The Chargers, for one, it’s a division game. And Philip Rivers usually does well against the Broncos. Even if the Broncos dominate on defense, it could still be a close game, just because their offense doesn’t score that much.”
Although Denver did actually get some offense, with Peyton Manning coming off the bench to rescue the team, Wemlinger correctly called a close game. Denver won 27-20, so the Chargers did indeed cover.
But that Arizona-Seattle game both Ivey and Wemlinger liked? The Seahawks looked like the two-time defending NFC champions, with a shocking 36-6, ticket-killing victory.
And what of those Panthers, who were 10-point home favorites? Cam Newton and Co. battered the Buccaneers 38-10, finishing the regular season 15-1 SU and a more than respectable 11-5 ATS.
Still, the foursome was spending a Sunday afternoon at a prime Las Vegas sportsbook. There are worse ways to spend a day.
“We came here to see the UFC fight actually,” said Ivey, alluding to Robbie Lawler’s victory over Carlos Condit on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden. “But this is awesome. You can see every single game and bet on it. We heard this place is good, that’s why we came here.”
Added Wemlinger: “Yeah, this is sick.”
Colin Kelly is a Las Vegas-based contributor for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @ColinPKelly29.