Bills Pull Off Biggest Upset In 25 Years

Bills Pull Off Biggest Upset In 25 Years

This past weekend, with sports betting now legal in more states than ever before, the Bills finally got off the schneid in epic fashion, pulling off the biggest NFL upset in nearly a quarter century by beating the undefeated Vikings at home in Buffalo. Entering Sunday’s game against Minnesota, the major sportsbooks all settled on a 17-point margin on the point spread, with the Vikings looking to steamroll their way into a convincing lead atop the NFC North after a hard-fought tie against the rival Packers a week prior. The Bills, it seemed, would be easy pickings. As it turned out, of course, Buffalo was anything but.

Before their game on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills hadn’t won an NFL tilt since losing their 2017 wild card matchup against the Jaguars. That game, of course, led to a number of changes within the club, not the least of which was the jettisoning of their erstwhile “quarterback of the future,” Tyrod Taylor. With Taylor now playing for the Cleveland Browns, the Bills turned to rookie signal-caller Josh Allen, who the team picked at the 7th spot in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Ironically, Taylor has now lost his job to two separate rookie quarterbacks from the 2018 draft class, as OU’s Baker Mayfield has just been named Cleveland’s starter going forward.)

Allen was quick to make waves in just his third career start, hurdling a would-be Vikings tackler while on a first-quarter drive. The leap – which quickly went viral on social media – is likely something that Bills management will put a stop to in the future, but it served to put a giant punctuation mark on the complete dismantling of the vaunted Vikings defense. Whether this is an aberration on both sides or a sign of things to come, nobody knows for sure. But the history books don’t lie, and the Bills probably won’t be 17-point dogs again any time soon.

Fortunately for bookmakers, this upset hasn’t put them in the red, as most folks betting on the Bills took the spread odds instead of the moneyline odds on this matchup. The same, of course, can’t be said for all the bettors, some of whom lost a fair chunk of change thanks to Buffalo’s improbable victory. The WestGate SuperBook claims that one unlucky bettor put up $9000 on the Vikings to win outright. At -2000 odds, the bettor – likely a professional – would only win $450 with a Vikes victory. (Pros, after all, often put up large amounts to win comparative pittances, which is a long-haul proposition, and one that is usually profitable over time.) Another bettor, this time at the William Hill sportsbook in Las Vegas, put up $18,000 on the Vikings moneyline (-1800). Instead of winning a cool $1000, this gambler lost 18 times that. Still, that’s the name of the game, and this should be a concrete reminder that there are no sure things in sports. Ever.

Indeed, while you shouldn’t expect this kind of thing to happen very often, it’s not as rare as most outlets are making it out to be. Yes, at 17-point (or greater) underdog winning a game in the NFL hadn’t been done in 23 years until this past Sunday, but in reality, it’s not all that uncommon. Since the Washington Redskins unexpectedly defeated the Dallas Cowboys as 17.5-point underdogs in 1995, there have been 24 favorites of 17 or more points that have taken the field, and each of them had won. (They didn’t all cover, of course, but all had at least emerged victorious). That’s quite a streak, but it’s the streak that is the aberration here. Consider: In the Super Bowl era, teams favored by 17 or more points were 145-14 in such matchups before the Bill’s victory on Sunday. That’s an upset rate of 8.8%, which, in the grand scheme, is not something statisticians would peg as being remotely rare. It happens, folks.

To be sure, USA online sportsbooks knows the Bills’ performance on Sunday – a complete dismantling of a top-5 power-ranked team – is impressive. For fans, it’s a strong sign of life for a perpetually-beleaguered franchise, a sign of a real fight in the AFC East, and an indication of welcome parity atop the NFC North. For bettors, it simply serves as a reminder and a lesson: If you lean on foregone conclusions, the only foregone conclusion is your bankroll.