Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 1:17 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: Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle, and Tennessee.
ST. LOUIS AT GREEN BAY: Green Bay opened at -14.5…and the LACK of support for St. Louis at that price was striking. There are usually some old school guys who knee jerk to every double digit underdog (because that works over the long haul!). And, this game was sitting a half a point above a semi-critical number of -14. Nobody loved the Rams. They’re playing that badly. And, Green Bay is playing that well. A lot of sharps faded Green Bay last week with Atlanta as a Sunday Night TV home underdog…and lost badly. They didn’t want to buck the Packers again. We’re seeing -14.5 or -15 as we go to press. Maybe sharps will come in on the dog if the public drives the line to -16 on game day. The total has stood pat at 48 all week. If we don’t mention a total in a particular game, it’s because nothing of interest is happening on that proposition.
JACKSONVILLE AT PITTSBURGH: An opener of Pittsburgh -13 fell down to -12, which is more in line with what you see when a double digit number goes up. The old school guys took the dog right away. Should the public drive the line back up to -13 on game day…more sharps will come in again on the dog at that price. The total is up from 38.5 to 40 or 40.5, suggesting the weather is going to be nice in Pittsburgh this Sunday. It’s odd to see support for Jacksonville’s offense, which is the case with that combination. Some sharps think the Steelers have lost a step on defense this year.
PHILADELPHIA AT WASHINGTON: Philadelphia opened at -1.5, and is once again -1.5 as we go to press. There was Washington interest early in the week that moved the line toward pick-em…but Philadelphia money came back in after that. Washington +7.5 will be a popular choice in two-team teasers this week if that line doesn’t move any more.
SAN FRANCISCO AT DETROIT: Some interest on the road dog and Under in what might turn out to be a first round playoff preview. Detroit opened -5 and 47. We’re now seeing -4 and 46.5 in most places. Jim Harbaugh has won the respect of sharps very quickly at this level (as he did at Stanford). Many also believe the Lions could fall flat off a Monday Night divisional rivalry win.
CAROLINA AT ATLANTA: The biggest non-injury line move of the week was on this one. Atlanta opened at -6, but has fallen down to -4. A very odd opener given how poorly Atlanta’s defense has played this year…and how great Carolina has been at covering spreads. Sharps pounced quickly. They had no illusions that the public was going to drive this line from -6 to -7 (squares have lost enough with Atlanta this year), so the dog money came in right away. We’re hearing that some sharps even have this game rated as a toss-up.
INDIANAPOLIS AT CINCINNATI: The only interest here has been on the total, which opened at 38 and rose to 40.5. The Colts offense has been more productive under Curtis Painter. That and the apparent lack of a threat for any weather influences brought in some confident money on the high side. Cincinnati opened at -7, and is still a touchdown favorite. It’s interesting that sharps didn’t show any inkling for the dog here considering their other bets. That’s a high price for a team like the Bengals to lay. Sharps are focusing on higher quality dogs to this point.
BUFFALO AT NY GIANTS: Clear interest on the Over here…as an already high opener of 48.5 was bet up to 50.5 during the week. Buffalo is playing high scoring games…and the Giants sure did that last week with Seattle too. Looks like weather won’t be an issue here. It can be tough to play high scoring games at the Meadowlands when the winds are swirling (just as true in the new stadium as with its predecessor). Apparently that won’t be a concern until November. The Giants opened at -3 as a home favorite. The line is either -3.5 now, or -3 with increased juice. It takes a lot of money to move off a three in the NFL…so there is a meaningful amount of support for the Giants from sharps.
HOUSTON AT BALTIMORE: Big line move here based on injury news for Houston. The line opened Baltimore -5.5, and is now up to -7.5 in most places (higher in a few). The Texans lost linebacker Mario Williams for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Matt Schaub has been limited in practice this week with a sore shoulder. Any line moves this weekend will likely be connected to Schaub’s status. And, Baltimore (-) will be a very popular pick in two-team teasers this week at any regular line of -7.5 to -8.5. Some stores may guard against that by going to -7 if he’s improving, or -9 if he isn’t.
CLEVELAND AT OAKLAND: Not much interest in this game. The money that has come in has been on underdog Cleveland +7. We’re seeing +6.5 in some places. There are a lot of “non-public” favorites this week…which means there’s no reason for dog lovers to wait for the weekend. Might as well take the best number you can get now. Squares will be focused on a handful of teams this week.
DALLAS AT NEW ENGLAND: This is definitely a game squares will be loading up on. Will they lay the points with one of their preferred favorites…or will they take the points with America’s Team? Sharps have been grappling with that all week. From what we’re hearing, sharps love Dallas as a general rule at +7. They see upset potential from a team with a good passing offense against the poor pass defense of New England. Should that line of thought be happy with +7, or should it be patient and wait to see if +7.5 or +8 shows up on Sunday? The late week consensus seemed to be that the smart money wasn’t going to wait any longer. We’ve started seeing some +6.5’s out there as we go to press. When sharps have this much agreement…they’re all afraid of missing the +7 if there’s a Wise Guy feeding frenzy. The total has moved from 54 to 55.5, as we continue the forecast for great weather across the Northeast. Well, that and the high scoring tendencies we’ve seen all season from that neck of the woods.
NEW ORLEANS AT TAMPA BAY: Another game with a medium favorite that encouraged some underdog money. New Orleans opened at -5. We’re seeing -4.5 in most places now. Some systems players are involved here, as this is a third straight road game for the Saints. Many old-schoolers like to go against favorites in a third road spot.
MINNESOTA AT CHICAGO: The only betting interest so far here as been on the total, with an opener of 43 falling to 41.5. We expect a lot of game day action for this Sunday Nighter. It’s not exactly a marquee game though…so that might make it less likely for any move off the three. And, any move off the three from public money would bring an immediate response back the other way from sharps. By the way, a lot of the math-based sharps think Minnesota is better than they’re 1-4 record would suggest. Computers love the Vikings stat mix to this point.
MIAMI AT THE NY JETS: An opener of Jets -8 has fallen to -7. New York has been so shaky this year that sharps couldn’t buy them as a favorite of more than a touchdown. That’s particularly true against a divisional rival who just enjoyed a bye week too…even if that divisional rival will be starting its backup quarterback. The total has gone up from 41 to 42.5, which is once again a reflection of weather forecasts and the high point production in the Northeast this year. Odd to see Giants and Jets home games on back-to-back days both see this much Over betting from sharps.
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.