Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 12:50 PM
As promised, VSM will pick up where Nick Bogdanovich left off with market reports each week on how sharps (professional wagerers) are playing the NFL card. We’ll run through the games in rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule. Please be aware that six teams have byes this week: Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, and Washington.
Let’s jump right in…
KANSAS CITY AT INDIANAPOLIS: This line has stayed right around Indy -2 or Indy -2.5 all week. That tells you two things. First, sharps DON’T like the Colts very much or they would have driven the line up to the key number of three. As Nick explained to you many times over the years, sharps bet favorites early if they’re going to bet them. A line that stays at -2.5 all week is a defacto endorsement of the underdog. Sharps would hit Kansas City +3 hard were the public to bet the Colts on game day. They may still end up taking the +2.5 if that’s the best they can get. The second thing this relatively frozen line tells you is that oddsmakers aren’t that afraid of Kansas City in the teaser window. They’ve lost a couple of games by very big margins. That’s what it takes to spike teaser bets. Oddsmakers didn’t move this line down to Indy -1 to discourage teaser bets. Very interesting. It’s likely that Kansas City will be a popular choice for sharps who bet teasers if this line doesn’t move. Those guys had a huge Sunday last week.
ARIZONA AT MINNESOTA: The interest in this game has been on the total, as an opener of 43 is up to 45.5. Arizona is seen as a team that’s likely to play high scoring games in good conditions because of a soft defense but an upgrade at quarterback. You’ll recall they played to a 58 last week vs. the NY Giants, and to a 49 in Week One vs. Carolina. We’ve heard the numbers guys made it 45-46…which is why sharps hit the Over early. The line of Minnesota -3 is going to be one of those games where most money would be on the dog +3, or the favorite -2.5…and each individual book has to decide what level of action and exposure they want. Arizona would be a popular team in two-team teasers were the line to fall to +2.5 (which it has in some places as we go to press). Minnesota hasn’t even won a game yet, let alone won by 10 points or more.
PHILADELPHIA AT BUFFALO: The total has bumped up from 48.5 to 50. Oddsmakers expected Over interest…which is why they stuck the hook on a common number like 48. The math guys still came in on the Over up to 50. That suggests the weather is going to be nice in Buffalo this Sunday. And, it represents a continuation of the general form for each of these teams toward shootout style football. No significant interest on the team side yet at Philly -3…though some respected money has come in on the dog. This is likely to be a game where the public likes the favorite and the sharps like the home dog. Some sharps will wait to see if they can get better odds on game day.
OAKLAND AT HOUSTON: A slight tick on Houston, moving an opener of -5.5 up to -6. There hasn’t been a lot of sharp interest expressed here. We’re hearing that a few of the situational guys think this is a tough spot for Oakland after a four game sequence of at Denver, at Buffalo, vs. NYJ, vs. New England. That sector bet the favorite at -5.5, but didn’t come in hard enough to drive the line up to -7. It looks like the Oakland money is waiting to see what it can get after the public starts to bet. Sharp dog interest often stays hidden until game day.
NEW ORLEANS AT CAROLINA: Interesting here how a non-move is telling you a lot about a game. New Orleans opened at -6.5, and the number’s still there. Obviously if sharps liked the Saints they would have jumped in quick before the number went to -7. Nobody jumped! So, sharp sentiment is on the underdog, and they’re waiting to see if they can get +7 after the public starts to bet. That can surely happen because squares love betting on Drew Brees, and the Saints covered last week as a road favorite with a similar spread. Whenever a number is frozen a half point away from a critical number in football, you’re seeing VERY strong sentiment from sharps even if it’s not being expressed by money. It’s being expressed by a lack of money!
CINCINNATI AT JACKSONVILLE: Same situation here, expect at a lower critical number. Jacksonville opened as a -2.5 point favorite, and that’s the number you’re mostly seeing everywhere (that or -2). There was no interest to hit the favorite just below a key number…so that means squares like the underdog. It may not be worth waiting for the public here though because squares tend not to be interested in games involving horrible teams. That makes it less likely that square money on game day would drive the line up to Jacksonville by a field goal. Cincinnati is likely to be a popular choice in two-team teasers if this line doesn’t fall down to one. The total saw a jump from the opener of 35.5 up to either 36.5 or 37 depending on where you shop. That’s not an endorsement of either rookie quarterback. We’re hearing it’s more of a general trend move regarding overall scoring this season. The two posted games in the 30’s last week ended up landing on 44 (Tennessee/Cleveland) and 58 (Atlanta/Seattle).
TENNESSEE AT PITTSBURGH: Oddsmakers really screwed up the opener here, posting numbers around -6 or –6.5 for the home favorite. Sharp money jumped in on Tennessee, and jumped hard. We’re now seeing Pittsburgh -3 everywhere. Sharps think Tennessee is for real, at least in terms of being a legitimate playoff contender with a good defense, a great running back, and a veteran quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck who’s getting the job done. Pittsburgh is reeling out of the gate with sloppy play and injuries. Really bad opener. The total has come down from 41 to 39.5 because of respect for Tennessee’s defense (opponents have scored 16, 13, 14, 13 this season) and the sluggish play from the Steelers this year.
SEATTLE AT NY GIANTS: More interest on the total here than the team side. An opener of 41.5 went up to 43. That suggests weather is going to be nice at the Meadowlands, with wind unlikely to be a factor. Can you imagine Tavaris Jackson trying to throw accurately on a windy day?! The Giants opened at -10 on the team side. The faction of sharps that bets every double digit dog sight unseen took the ten. So, we’re seeing either Giants -9.5 or -10 right now in the market.
TAMPA BAY AT SAN FRANCISCO: Here’s a case where a team opened at -2.5 and was driven go -3. right away. San Francisco has earned some respect from sharps after their upset win at Philadelphia last week. Sharps still hate Alex Smith, but they love coach Jim Harbaugh! The feeling here was that San Francisco had risen up enough in the Power Ratings to be equal to Tampa Bay. That makes them a field goal favorite at home, particularly against an opponent who just played a Monday Night game. The total is up a point from 41 to 42.
NY JETS AT NEW ENGLAND: An opener of New England -8 moved up quickly to New England -9.5. A few factors are in play there. Some sharps took position on the Patriots because they know squares loving betting Tom Brady to win big at home. They figured the public might drive this line as high as -10 on game day, because that’s where it reached when these teams played on this field in the playoffs last year (just five games ago for the Pats). Also, there weren’t many sportsbooks who wanted to see a bunch of two-team teasers with New England -2 or -2.5 in them. The public would have jumped all over those…as well as all sharps who focus on basic strategy teasers. So, even if the Jets get support over the weekend, don’t expect this line to fall down below Pats -9. The market could easily see -10 on game day given how badly the Jets have played to start this season.
SAN DIEGO AT DENVER: Sharps liked the home dog at +6 on the opener, driving the line down to +4. San Diego just hasn’t impressed this year, even though they’re 3-1. The wins were all at home over poor opposition…and the offense moved in fits and starts. Given how poorly San Diego played on the road last year, this move wasn’t a surprise. The total came down from 47 to 46, probably because the Chargers played three Unders outside of the New England shootout.
GREEN BAY AT ATLANTA: A reversal here as a road favorite of -4 was bet up to -6. We’ve heard from several sharps who were shocked by how badly Atlanta’s defense played last week in Seattle. Many sharps liked that Under…and were burned when the Falcons couldn’t stop the Seahawks it the second half. How are they going to shut down Aaron Rodgers and this potent Packer attack. It’s rare to see sharps love a road favorite in the NFL. This is what it looks like when they do! That’s why you can be confident of what “non-moves” are telling you when the money doesn’t come in. When sharps like a favorite, they act quickly.
CHICAGO AT DETROIT: An opener of Detroit -6 has been bet down to Detroit -5.5. It’s -5 in some places. Sharps like divisional rivalry underdogs of more than a field goal in general. Normally at a spread like this they’d wait to spend on the dog. But, the public likes betting Chicago…so this is a rare case where squares may prefer the dog to the favorite. Sharps felt that a move to +7 probably wasn’t in the cards anyway, so they stepped in and took +6. Small move on the total from an opener of 47 up to 47.5. Detroit’s played four Overs this year, landing on 47, 51, 49, and 64 (with two defensive TD’s). So, 47-51 is the scoring zone for this team…slightly above the opener.
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.