Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 4, 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. Please be aware that four teams have byes this wee. They are: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, and Minnesota.
ATLANTA AT INDIANPOLIS: An opener of Atlanta -8 fell down quickly to Atlanta -7. We’re hearing that a few factors were in play. Some sharp Power Ratings don’t have Atlanta as THAT much better than Indianapolis. Plus, a line of -8 would make Atlanta -2 a very popular choice in two-team teasers…and sportsbooks don’t want to ask any of the “Suck for Luck” teams to have to win outright for them. If we do have a case of teams losing on purpose, teasers that move the line near even could become very dangerous for sportsbooks. The total has dropped from 45 to 44 because the math guys don’t see the Colts playing many shootouts.
TAMPA BAY AT NEW ORLEANS: An opener of New Orleans by 7.5 is up to 8.5 or even 9 in some outlier places as we write this. Sharps believe that the public will want to bet the Saints in what is both a bounce-back spot (off the St. Louis loss) and a revenge spot (off an earlier loss to the Bucs). There’s no way the line was going to go down to the critical number with those factors in play. So, sharps took early position to try and lock up 8 and 9 in middles should the game move all the way to Saints by -10. If the line doesn’t got to nine everywhere, New Orleans will be one of the most popular two-team teaser choices we’ve seen in quite a while. The total has dropped from 52 to 50, which is odd for indoor games, but not as odd for divisional grudge battles.
CLEVELAND AT HOUSTON: Not much interest here. We can say that the sharps DON’T like Cleveland…because an opener of +10.5 didn’t come down to the key number of ten right away. The little money that’s come in has been on the favorite, creating Cleveland +11 in some spots. Tough road trip for the Browns. Sharps don’t have any faith in them at the moment. Sharps do generally like Houston, but not at tall numbers given their offensive inconsistency this season.
NY JETS AT BUFFALO: Not much interest here. Some Buffalo money hit at -1.5, to move the line to -2 most places. But, there wasn’t enough passion to reach -2.5 or get anywhere near the full field goal. The Jets money is going to wait to see what they can get because one and two are such rare victory margins relatively speaking. Jets money might as well wait to see if the public bets the home favorite. Note likely here because Buffalo hasn’t won over the squares yet. The total is down a point from 45 to 44 in another big divisional game.
MIAMI AT KANSAS CITY: Miami got some “defensive dog” support at an opener of +5. The line is down to +4 most places. San Diego is in a short week after a big Monday Night divisional win. But, Miami is playing a second road game after a trip to New York last week. Neither team is in a great schedule spot. The total is up from 39 to 40, suggesting good weather or tired defenses. Kansas City doesn’t fit the classic teaser window. But, if Miami isn’t interested in winning games, the Chiefs become a possible consideration for two-teamers.
SAN FRANCISCO AT WASHINGTON: San Francisco sure is making a lot of trips East this year! That may be why sharps liked the home underdog at the opener of +4.5. Washington is down to +3.5. Not enough support yet to move down to the key number of three. Were that to happen, San Francisco money would start coming in. Many sharps are now believers in coach Jim Harbaugh’s team. They’d prefer to find better value spots than “road favorite in a bad body clock game.” The total has dropped from 39 to 37.5, which is VERY low for what’s been a high scoring 2011 season in the NFL. That suggests a lot of respect for these defenses…and an expectation for conservative offenses.
SEATTLE AT DALLAS: Seattle got early support at +12.5. We’re now seeing +12 or +11.5 everywhere. Some of that is old school money that bets every double digit dog because of long term percentage value. But, Tavaris Jackson is starting to move the ball when he’s on the field for Seattle. Remember, this team beat the Giants in New York. That may offer up some backdoor value. Dallas money is likely to hit over the weekend because the public likes betting big name teams in bounce back spots. Not many position-takers this week though, which may suggest Seattle is getting more respect than the short line move was hinting at. The total is up from 42.5 to 44…the result, we think, of Seattle’s more wide open play when Jackson is playing.
DENVER AT OAKLAND: Serious support for Oakland off an opener of -7. It’s tougher to move off key numbers like three and seven than other numbers. This game flew off the opener to -8 or -8.5, and even -9 in some places. Tim Tebow really did look that bad last week! And, Carson Palmer has now had several days to get used to his teammates and a system he was already pretty familiar with. We would expect to see sharp money come in at +10 should the line move that high. If the line settles at Oakland -8.5, then the Raiders are going to be a popular teaser team against Tebow.
CINCINNATI AT TENNESSEE: Not much interest here because Tennessee -3 seems like a solid number. The Titans would likely get market support at -2.5. Cincinnati would be very popular at +3.5 because their defense has performed well and Tennessee has been inconsistent. To this point, the support has been for the dog at +3. Some sharp money may try to drive that down to +2.5 just so they can get the Bengals in teasers at +8.5. The total is up from 40 to 41.5, which is odd for these two teams. Must signal a good weather forecast, and maybe an expectation for softer defense from Cincinnati in a tough second road spot.
ST. LOUIS AT ARIZONA: Money has come in on St. Louis and the Under pretty hard since Arizona announced that Kevin Kolb probably wouldn’t play this weekend. Everyone remembers how bad the other options are. St. Louis won respect with an upset of New Orleans last week. It would still take a miracle for the Rams to catch San Francisco at the top of the division. But, some respectable outings could surely be in the offing. Note that the Ram and Under money stopped at +2 and 41.5. Look for the Rams to be in sharp teasers if the number doesn’t scoot down to +1.
NY GIANTS AT NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots opened at -8.5, but scooted quickly to -9. No way sportsbooks want the whole world on New England -2.5 in teasers. There may have also bee some position-taking just in case the public comes in strong on Tom Brady in a bounce back spot. There is Giant money out there…but it’s waiting to see if they can get at least +10 on game day. Frankly, a move of half a point to New England at that number suggests the sharps aren’t impressed at all with the Pats, and they’re looking to really step in on the Giants when they can. True passion for the Pats would have seen a move to -10 with no buyback. The total is down from 52.5 to 51 or even 50.5. That may be weather related because the Giants are prone to playing shootouts this year…which is right up New England’s alley. Yet, sharps were betting the Under rather than the Over.
GREEN BAY AT SAN DIEGO: The only interest here has been on the total, with an opener of 52 dropping to 51. The lack of support for home dog San Diego at +5.5 tells you how much the sharps have fallen out of love with Philip Rivers. Remember when they bet him like crazy on the road against the Jets? Now, he’s at home against a much more vulnerable pass defense, but they won’t touch him with a 10-foot pole getting +5.5 points! A bet on the Under is also a vote against Rivers.
BALTIMORE AT PITTSBURGH: The market wants to move from Pittsburgh -3 to -3.5. And, it’s done so in some places. We’re likely to see flip flops between -3 and -3.5 with a juice penalty on the favorite at three and the dog at +3.5 if history is any guide for a defensive grudge match like this. But, Pittsburgh has impressed a few sharps recently, while Baltimore as lost its mojo in recent outings. The line solidifying at Pittsburgh -3.5 would be a big indictment of the Ravens from Vegas sharps.
CHICAGO AT PHILADELPHIA: Philadelphia impressed last Sunday Night against Dallas, causing an opening line of Eagles -7 to move up to -7.5. It will be interesting to see of sportsbooks try to move that all the way to -9 to get the game out of the basic strategy teaser window. They would be exposed on Philly at -7, and probably Chicago at +9. Do they want the whole world on the Eagles -1.5 to -2.5 in teasers that could finish off one week and then carry over to the next week? Awkward position. Total support on the Under so far, as an opener of 42.5 is down to 41.5.
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