(Note: Sean O'Neill has taken us behind the scenes of the Las Vegas sports books all year at CHFF Insider. He'll be reporting at CHFF Insider right through the Super Bowl, helping you understand the mindset of the wise guys. In the meantime, he takes an entertaining look at some of the most painful bets of the 2013 NFL gambling season.)
By Sean O'Neill
Cold, Hard Football Facts Vegas Insider (@sean_oneill)
The football season is one game away from ending. Which means all the gut wrenching, head scratching, finger pointing, larynx-abusing woes from another season of betting on pigskin can be bottled up until September.
But in the meantime, let's take a trip down the boulevard of broken dreams and give credit to the games that made our heart rates rise and our hairs grey as we take a look at the Top Ten Bad Beats of the 2013 NFL season.
10. Week 3: Raiders at Broncos (-16.5 or -17)
If there is any lesson to be taken from this game -- other than ignore watching the Raiders -- is that when you place your bet is as important as who you wager on.
If you are to bet on Denver next year, if Peyton Manning returns, do it as early in the week as possible. The biggest public team opened at -14.5 against Oakland on Monday Night in Week 3, and the money piled up on the orange side of the game faster than a Demariyus Thomas go-route.
The number went up to -17 on the Broncos before the sharps got in and took Oakland, knocking it down a peg. But this didn't cure the public's Mile High disease as the squares went back to the well at -16.5 before the game began.
The public was looking like they were gonna win, before Montae Ball fumbled on his 35-yard line with 2:31 to go.
Oakland recovered and Matt Flynn -- remember him as a Raider? -- completed one 19-yard pass to Marcel Reece, followed by a one-yard punch in from Darren McFadden to make the score 37-21 and screw the Broncos backers. But the early birds did get their worm.
9. Week 15: Cardinals (-3) at Titans
Also from the "Bet Early in the Week" category, Arizona opened as 2.5-point favorites at Tennessee. The sharps that grabbed them early were happy when the game hit the key field goal number.
Those who laid the full field goal on Arizona on Sunday also were heading for an easy win too after Antoine Cason took Ryan Fitzpatrick to the house.
As the Cards started thinking about the flight back to Arizona, the Titans decided to come back, scoring 17 points in the final 3:17, and recovering an onside kick to force the game into overtime as the majority of the crowd in Nashville was on the highway.
Fitzpatrick reverted back to form in overtime as he gave the ball back to Cason and the Cardinals finished the game with a field goal to take the win 37-34.
While Arizona backers did get their money back, it would've been doubled if they visited the sports book on Monday.
8. Week 9: Colts at Texans (+1)
We could put the Texans entire season on this list.
The team that was statistically winning and scoreboard losing all year wins the inaugural Golden Trashed Ticket award for the worst spread record, 4-12 ATS, this season.
They destroyed every parlay and three-team tease in it's path this season, and lost both games straight up against Jacksonville as favorites.
But the worst loss, at least until you go further down this list, happened when the Colts came to town.
In a game that will be mostly remembered for when head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the field, first-time starter Case Keenum outperformed Andrew Luck.
Houston outgained Indianapolis 483-314, outrushed the Colts 143-69, and won the first down battle 22-17.
The Texans led 21-3 at half, which is when Kubiak fell to the ground and didn't return. Kicker Randy Bullock turned out to be the goat in this one, missing three field goals that would've put the game out of reach.
But down 24-12 in the fourth, Luck made the most of his first two possessions, throwing two touchdowns to T.Y. Hilton, and hitting Coby Fleener for a two-pointer.
Bullock missed the third field goal with five seconds left and the Texans blew another one, losing 27-24.
7. Week 16: Saints (+3.5) at Panthers
As documented all season, the Saints traveling road show was one of the worst bets you could make.
But if you wanted to ignore the trend, hopping on the Saints in a must-win game for the NFC South against the Panthers -- a team it destroyed in the Superdome only two weeks earlier -- and getting the half-point hook on a field goal, it didn't seem all that dumb.
The Saints, similarly to Houston in many games, dominated the box score.
They outgained the Panthers 365-222, won the time of possession battle 38:48-21:12 and first downs 20-10.
But Cam Newton made his only play of the game with 28 seconds left as Carolina won 17-13. A bitter pill to swallow because the extra half-point didn't help.
6. Divisional round: Saints at Seahawks (-8.5)
In another case of needing the right number on the right side, Seattle opened at -8 in most shops against a Saints team that was destroyed 34-7 on Monday Night on December 2.
But the previous week, the Saints won and covered for the first time on the road since October 6.
If you looked for 7.5 with the Seahawks, it came up at only a few places in Vegas during the lead up to the game. It turned out to be the only number that cashed for Seattle.
Just as they had done against Carolina a few games prior, the Saints won the yards battle (409-277), first downs (25-13) and passing yards (309-103). But trailed 23-8 with no hope of winning the game late in the fourth after Marshawn Lynch's game-clinching 31-yard touchdown run.
But Drew Brees played as if his father had money on his son, taking the team down the field to secure the 23-15 loss with a strike to Marques Colston, much to the delight of a certain columnist.
Bettors didn't need Colston to lateral the ball across the field properly, just catch the ball when the game is out of reach.
5. Week 15: Redskins at Falcons (-5.5)
Washington looked like a team that was falling quicker than a tent in a tornado. With the RGIII-Shanahan-Snyder soap opera in full bloom, the sharps pounced Atlanta when the line opened at Falcons -4.
Couple this with the public's tendency to bet against backup quarterbacks, as Kirk Cousins was tabbed to start in place of Robert Griffin III, the books would be needing Team Turmoil in this one.
Atlanta led 27-20 after a field goal with 3:31 left in the game. Kirk Cousins playing like anything but a backup, took the team 80 yards, converting three third-down plays, and hit Santana Moss in the end zone with 22 seconds left.
Falcons fans were saying, "OK, we can still win overtime." But then Shanahan decided, with the only thing on the line being draft positions, to go for two to win the game. The attempt failed, the Falcons won 27-26, and the two chances to cover the spread were erased.
4. Week 14: Lions at Eagles (Under 51)
All you had to do was look at the weather report.
When the blizzard arrived in Philadelphia, anybody with common sense figured that the Lions and Eagles wouldn't be able to throw the ball. The game would be mired in muck, and the players would have no traction to run.
This, theoretically, equals no scoring. And all the action came in on the under, knocking the total from 54 all the way to 51 at kickoff.
The game played to plan. Philly led 8-0 at half and 14-6 after the third. But as the fourth began, LeSean McCoy ran 40 yards to the house.
Then Jeremy Ross took the kickoff back 98 yards for a score.
Then Shady scored another 57-yard TD, and the Eagles kept coming. At 28-20, Chris Polk decided to be Slim to McCoy's Shady and rush for a 38-yard TD himself, pushing the total over, and leaving under bettors with frostbite.
3. Week 14: Browns (+450 money line) at Patriots
If you made the conservative choice, taking the Browns and the points in this game, you would have made the typical $1.10 for every dollar bet.
But if you thought Cleveland actually had a hope of beating the Patriots in Foxborough, the odds were longer than the name of washed-up quarterbacks on this Browns fan's jersey.
A greasy $10 bet would have pocketed $45 in profit. So the money that looked as good as won after Josh Gordon's 80-yard touchdown run which made the score 19-3 with less than two minutes left in the third.
Cue Tom Brady leading the comeback, and throwing the game-winning touchdown to Danny Amendola with 35 seconds left, winning 27-26. Cue another heartbreaking down for Cleveland fans.
And cue a small group of people that went on a flyer saying, "damn, I wish I just took the 9.5 points."
2. Week 4: Seahawks at Texans (+1.5)
Before Richard Sherman was known as the man that trashed Michael Crabtree and flustered Erin Andrews, he was the man that was the beneficiary of the worst throw of the season by a quarterback not named Brandon Weeden.
Notice that the Texans were getting points at home in Week 4, long before they collapsed and gathered the No. 1 pick in the draft.
But this was the respect paid to Seattle from the start of the season.
At the time, because Seattle had gotten so much preseason love, it fluctuated the number because money was always coming in on the Seahawks.
The value was all on Houston, and they didn't disappoint, outgaining Seattle 476-270, averaging 5.4 yards per play, and winning the first down battle 29-15.
That was until Matt Schaub rolled to his right -- when he and coach Gary Kubiak could have run the clock -- and threw a duck to Sherman who took it to the house to tie the game at 20 with 2:51 left.
The Seahawks kicked a field goal in overtime and won a game 23-20 they had no business winning, and the Texans had no business losing.
1. Week 14: Vikings at Ravens (Under 41.5)
Those who bet the under in this game were already budgeting that cash for some early Holiday shopping as the snow came down in Baltimore. And who can blame them?
The total opened at 43 in most places and was bet down to 41.5 at close.
The game was 7-6 Ravens after three quarters and even Matt Cassel's touchdown pass to Jerome Simpson to make it 12-7 after a failed two-pointconversion, wouldn't have dampened anybody's mood.
The only thing that happened during the next 12 minutes of action was the snow falling. But then the touchdowns came like an avalanche. After the snow settled, 36 points were scored in the final 2:07 -- breaking the NFL record with six lead changes in the fourth -- and the hearts of those with the under on their ticket looked similarly to the win probability chart of the game.
The game finished 29-26, smashing the total when it seemed impossible.
Which is why having the under in the Vikings-Ravens game is the worst beat of 2013.