Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 11:55 AM
Time once again for another look at what sharps (professional wagerers) in Las Vegas are thinking about this week’s NFL games based on the market moves. We’ll take the games in rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule. There are no byes on the schedule this week. Oakland and San Diego played Thursday Night.
PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI: This game has been stuck on Pittsburgh -3 and 41.5 all week. Tough to see the game moving off the field goal because sharp money would bring it right back. Cincinnati has earned enough respect with its defense to earn backing at +3.5 or higher. But, Pittsburgh’s going to get respect at less than a field goal because it’s such a critical game for them. The total may come down on game day if weather is going to be any sort of factor. But, the fact that we haven’t already seen that kind of move suggests it won’t be. Perhaps the public will drive the line off three this weekend. Sharps would prefer to have the three in their pocket than to pick either side at the moment.
DENVER AT KANSAS CITY: Sharp support on Denver was driven by their very strong showing in Oakland last week. The Broncos opened at +4, but are now at +3. Kansas City laid an egg vs. Miami last Sunday. That could just have easily inspired “bounce back” money for a home favorite. That didn’t happen. In fact, it hasn’t happened yet even though the line moved down to the field goal. The fact that we didn’t seen an immediate buy back on the Chiefs at -3 tells you a lot about who the Wise Guys like here. The total has dropped from 42.5 down to 41 or 41.5 depending on your store. That’s not surprising for an important divisional game matching teams with erratic passing arms.
JACKSONVILLE AT INDIANAPOLIS: The only interest here has been on the total, with an opener of 37 moving up either a half a point or a point. The Colts defense has been shaky of late, probably driving that Over sentiment. Nobody wants to lay -3 on the road with a rookie quarterback on a sluggish team. Nobody wants a piece of the Colts at a short line. Those who took a flyer on Indianapolis as a TD underdog last week were embarrassed pretty badly. If the Colts really are trying to lose out to get the #1 draft pick, it’s very tough to invest in them unless the line is very high.
BUFFALO AT DALLAS: Some dog support for Buffalo at +6. We’re now seeing mostly +5.5 out there. The Cowboys are having trouble stringing together well-played games, which makes it hard to ask for a TD of at least a touchdown. Buffalo’s offense might have backdoor potential too. No interest yet on the total. Scoring has calmed down dramatically in recent weeks, discouraging Over money on the high totals. This one is still sitting on 48.
HOUSTON AT TAMPA BAY: We’re seeing a lot of games right on a field goal this week…and it takes a lot of money to move an NFL game off that field goal. Houston has received enough support to create -120 juice at -3, and even a minus -3.5 in some places. There are groups of Wise Guys who really like Houston this year…and groups that are down on Tampa Bay. That’s not a consensus view though…so we may actually see split action amongst the sharps here before public money even gets involved. The public doesn’t yet have Houston on its list of superpower teams. Maybe that will change soon. The total has stayed at 45.5 all week.
TENNESSEE AT CAROLINA: Another game that opened at a field goal. Carolina is getting support the same way Houston is…enough to encourage some stores to move to -3.5…but not enough to make that stick as a widely available number everywhere. Old school sharps have trouble laying points with rookie quarterbacks. That skepticism is generally pretty sound. Is Cam Newton capable of beating Tennessee when he couldn’t beat Minnesota? The total is up a tick from 45.5 to 46.
WASHINGTON AT MIAMI: Sharps are lining up to bet against Washington after two very poor showings vs. Buffalo and San Francisco…and ugly stats in their prior loss to Philadelphia. Miami opened at -3.5 because oddsmakers sensed nobody wanted the dog. The line moved up to -4! That’s a big slam against any dog…first that they’d open up at +3.5…then that the other side would get bet to -4 anyway. Three is such an important number that you must have a lot wrong with you to drive the line away against a one-win opponent. No interest on the low total yet, in what’s expected to be a defensive game.
NEW ORLEANS AT ATLANTA: New Orleans opened at -1, but the game is now pick-em. Sharps have kind of zigged and zagged with these teams so far…falling in and out of love with them. The offenses have been frustratingly inconsistent. The defenses come and go. Atlanta is at home remember, so there certainly hasn’t been sharp sentiment that the Falcons have caught the Saints in anyone’s Power Ratings. They’re still at least three points worse on a neutral field. This divisional total has dropped from 51.5 to 50.
DETROIT AT CHICAGO: Chicago opened just below a field goal because Detroit’s been getting sharp respect all season. Oddsmakers figured Detroit +3 would get pounded. They may have a chance to test that theory out because enough Chicago money has hit the board in places to create some treys. Sportsbooks absolutely HATE games like this because it creates a nighmare scenario. All the Chicago money is at -2.5. All the Detroit money is at +3. Should the Bears win by exactly three…than nobody loses and half the bettors win. Another divisional total drops, this time from an opener of 47 down to 45.5.
ST. LOUIS AT CLEVELAND: Looks like a great week to have the Direct TV package or the Red Zone channel. So many short spreads! Cleveland opened at three…but St. Louis money has created some 2.5’s out there. Once again…a potential nightmare scenario…though a horrible matchup like this will have much less exposure than a big city game like Detroit-Chicago. If you have a preference, be patient and get the right price.
ARIZONA AT PHILADELPHIA: No solid line as of press time because of injuries. Philadelphia is going to be a pricey favorite once a number goes up. You just never know what you’re going to get with the Eagles this year. They’re capable of naming the score here. They’re capable of sweating this matchup the same way Baltimore had to a few weeks ago when they didn’t take the Cards as seriously as they should have.
BALTIMORE AT SEATTLE: Sharps are looking for a letdown effort from the Ravens. Baltimore opened at -7.5…but home dog support has brought the line down to Baltimore -7 or -6.5. You don’t often seen that because a line of -7.5 means that oddsmakers are expecting favorite money and they don’t want a clean seven on the board. Sharps liked Seattle at home so much that the number blew past the seven. The Ravens will blow the edge they gained by sweeping Pittsburgh if they lose this one.
NY GIANTS AT SAN FRANCISCO: The only interest here as been on the total, with an opener of 43.5 falling to 42.5. Guys who like Unders have the courage to bet again! San Francisco is -3.5 and has been all week. This tells you sharps DON’T like the Giants or they would have acted quickly. Sharps who like the Niners are waiting to see if the public will back the big name dog.
NEW ENGLAND AT NY JETS: The Patriots have fallen out of favor quickly. This game opened at pick-em, but is now Jets -1.5. New England was so unimpressive against Pittsburgh and the NY Giants (and in a couple of other spots too), that the tax you used to have to pay to back Tom Brady isn’t there any more. Well, it’s at least smaller than it used to be. This is going to be a heavily bet game in Vegas sportsbooks all day Sunday. Sharps will fade any public moves that goes too far in one direction or another.
MINNESOTA AT GREEN BAY: The old school types who bet every double digit dog hit Minnesota at +13.5. That moved some stores to +13, but didn’t budge others. The public typically likes high octane favorites…but they have seen the Green Bay defense play soft in second halves this year. It will be interesting to see how the public handles this game on Monday. Some sharps are waiting to see if there’s a +14 for the Vikes after public money. There isn’t Green Bay sentiment from sharps or this line would have jumped to the critical number right away. An opener of -13.5 that DOESN’T go right to -14 must involve a favorite that sharps don’t want. Another divisional total drops, this time from 51.5 to 51 or 50.5.
That wraps up this week’s look at what sharps are thinking in the NFL. Back again with you next Friday afternoon for the next “Market Report” of Wise Guy betting in pro football