Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 1:07 PM
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, once again this week, six teams have byes. They are: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, the NY Giants, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
CHICAGO VS. TAMPA BAY (in London): Remember that this game is overseas rather than at Tampa Bay. Some prominent news publications didn’t notice that! We’ve flip-flopped favorites, with Tampa Bay opening at -1.5, but not Chicago becoming the betting favorite at either -1 or -1.5. Sharps did like the Bears a bit…but the passion isn’t so great that it moved the line anywhere near a critical number. It’s safe to say that most sharps had the Bears as about 1-2 points better in their Power Ratings, and bet for value. The total has gone up from 42 to 43.5, which is odd for a London game because the turf always seems to be a problem there. Everyone’s betting Overs this year though, particularly in non-divisional games.
WASHINGTON AT CAROLINA: Strong support for Washington drove the line off the key number of Carolina -3. We’ve mentioned often in the past that oddsmakers won’t move off the three unless there’s a lot of motivation. That’s particularly true when it’s the dog bringing in the money. Moving from -3 to -2.5 just invites a lot of basic strategy teaser plays on a popular dog at +8.5 in two-teamers. Plus, the public usually bets favorites over the weekend and sportsbooks know they can wait for that. Here they didn’t wait! Sharps don’t believe Carolina’s ready to be favored yet with a rookie quarterback…and there’s a feeling that Washington’s switch to John Beck isn’t going to make the Redskins any worse. The total is down two points from 45 to 43. We haven’t seen many Under plays this year…so that tells you sharps respect the Washington defense (justifiably so if you look at their opponents this year), and they expect Beck to manage the game rather than light up the scoreboard.
SAN DIEGO AT NY JETS: This was one of the most high profile moves of the week because the New York media couldn’t believe there was so much support for San Diego. The Jets opened at -1.5 as favorites, but the line moved all the way to San Diego -1.5 or -2. The media is wondering how Norv Turner can be a road favorite over Rex Ryan! Well, sharps like the QB edge of Rivers over Sanchez. Plus, a bye week for one team and a Monday Nighter for the other gives the biggest rest advantage possible. The total is down from 45.5 to 43.5…suggesting weather, or at least swirling winds might be an issue. Plus, there’s respect for San Diego’s defense this year. If you take the non-offensive scores out of each team’s games…you get a math projection in the high 30’s. Sharps liked San Diego at +1, pick-em, and -1…but they’ll also be rooting for the Jets at +7.5 of +8 in teasers in what they are projecting as a defensive battle.
SEATTLE AT CLEVELAND: Not much interest here. The total is up from 40 to 41. Sharps generally prefer the dog in non-descript games like this in a league of parity. We may see Seattle money come in on game day from the Wise Guys. They’re waiting to see if the public hits Cleveland at all. Not likely given the invisibility of that team so far.
HOUSTON AT TENNESSEE: This is one of those games that might hop between -3 and -3.5 between now and kickoff. The general move is toward Tennessee at the field goal. But, Houston gets support when the game moves off a field goal because three is such a critical number and this has a chance to be a playoff style game. The total is up a point from 43 to 44.
DENVER AT MIAMI: Sharps have liked Tim Tebow here, as an opener of Miami -3 is down to Miami -1. There was even a pick-em out there as we went to press. Miami looked awful on Monday Night. And, they may be one of these teams that isn’t interested in winning any games at the moment because they want great draft position. Tebow is going to try to win. And, he’ll have a home state crowd because of his time at Florida. We’re hearing that combination of factors led to the Tebow money. The sharps say they won’t invest in him yet vs. good teams. He offers value vs. bad teams.
ATLANTA AT DETROIT: Odd to see the sharps come in against Detroit, because they’ve been on that bandwagon all year. The Lions opened at -4.5, but are down to -3.5 right now. We’re hearing that’s not so much anti-Detroit sentiment…but the thought that Atlanta deserves more respect as a dog than the opener was giving them. This is still a playoff team from last year. And, they got things rolling last week vs. Carolina. Detroit money might come in very hard were this line to move all the way down to -3. The total has dropped from 48.5 to 47.5.
KANSAS CITY AT OAKLAND: Big move on Oakland once they settled their quarterback situation with Carson Palmer. Even though he’s struggled the past couple of seasons in terms of throwing downfield…he’s still seen as a big upgrade over Kyle Boller…who became the starter by default when Jason Campbell went down. Early postings of Oakland by 3.5 are all the way up to -6 now. I’m hearing the Kansas City money is waiting to see what they can get. Some has already stepped in at +6, driving the line in spots back to +5.5. The Chiefs have been competitive after their first two debacles, and are coming off a bye week.
PITTSBURGH AT ARIZONA: The focus here has been on the total, with an opener of 41 moving up to 43. Sharps have noticed that Arizona plays very high scoring home games. It’s like what you see in Colorado in Baseball, or maybe Golden State in the NBA. Maybe field conditions are great. Maybe Arizona’s defense gets tired in shootouts. Clear sentiment for the Over here. To the limited degree there was interest on the team side from sharps, it was on Arizona +4. We’re seeing some +3.5 spots out there now.
ST. LOUIS AT DALLAS: Dallas opened at -10.5, and is all the way up to -13 because of the St. Louis quarterback situation. The Rams have been horrible this year, and now they’re getting hit hard by injuries. Dallas is overdue to play four good quarters against somebody…so sharps went against their normal history and bet a double digit favorite. This isn’t common. But, it’s worth paying attention to when it happens. The old-school guys who did that last week with the Rams were down 24-3 at halftime…so they may have lost their motivation to come back and do it again.
GREEN BAY AT MINNESOTA: Interesting lack of support here for Green Bay at -9.5. A number like that often brings out instant favorite money from position takers who want to shoot at the ten in middles once the public comes in to bet. But, we didn’t see that. In fact, we’re seeing -9 now in a lot of places. That tells you sharps like Minnesota here even with the change to Christian Ponder at quarterback. There’s still respect for the defense and running game even after last Sunday’s loss in Chicago. We do know a lot of sharps have Minnesota ranked better in their Power Ratings than the mainstream media might expect for a 1-5 team.
INDIANAPOLIS AT NEW ORLEANS: Very little betting interest here. Even the old school guys have been tentative about taking the 14-point underdog because it’s tough to bet on Curtis Painter against Drew Brees. We may see some line movement on game day.
BALTIMORE AT JACKSONVILLE: The Jaguars are getting some Monday Night Home Dog respect, with an opener of Baltimore -8.5 dropping down to -8 or -7.5. If that line stays in the teaser window, Baltimore -1.5 or -2 is going to be in A LOT of teasers this week…and then will also be the first half of a lot of teasers for next week too. It will be interesting to see if some places bring the line all the way down to -7 just to avoid that possibility. Sportsbooks don’t want to ask Jacksonville to win this game straight up. The total has moved up from 38 to 39.5.
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.