Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM
Heading into Thursday Night’s Pittsburgh-Tennessee game, the Wise Guys are hoping to bounce back strong after what was largely a disappointing week for them in the NFL. It was a great week for squares, as many favorites won big…particularly in the most hyped TV games. Sportsbooks typically believe that a good week for squares is just a temporary loan, and that the public will lose those short term profits back very quickly.
Let’s see what sharps are thinking in this week’s action. Note that Carolina, Chicago, Jacksonville, and New Orleans all have byes, so we have a 14-game card on tap…
PITTSBURGH AT TENNESSEE: Not much interest here because Pittsburgh is dealing with injuries while Tennessee is dealing with incompetence! Sharps don’t want to lay a line near a TD with a team that couldn’t win at Oakland. The Titans have been so bad outside of the Detroit game that home dog lovers held their noses and turned away. We’re still seeing Pittsburgh -6 at most places. The opening total of 44 has come down to 43 or 43.5 in many spot…suggesting some Wise Guys like the Under. Sharps just aren’t interested, and would likely fade any significant public line moves that might happen before kickoff.
CINCINNATI AT CLEVELAND: The anti-Cincinnati sentiment we saw last week when the Bengals played Miami is present once again here. Cincinnati opened at -3, but is now only -1.5 or -1 as a road favorite vs. their state rival. There’s a group of sharps that were talking about how overrated Cincinnati was back before the season started. They’re really making their presence felt lately in the markets.
INDIANAPOLIS AT NY JETS: This is setting up as a tug-of-war spot near the key number of three. The Colts will get money at 3.5, while the Jets will get money at -3. Sharps aren’t ready to invest in Andrew Luck on the road against a play-making defense unless they’re getting that hook. The public seems to expect a letdown from the Colts off the Packers stunner…which keeps the line from settling right on a field goal. The total is up a point from 42 to 43, which suggests favorable scoring weather this weekend in the New York area.
KANSAS CITY AT TAMPA BAY: Matt Cassel will miss the game for Kansas City, putting Brady Quinn on the firing line. The Chiefs had been playing so badly that this wasn’t seen as an earth-shattering development on the team side. Tampa Bay opened at -3.5, and has now been bet up to -4. Remember how important it is when the market moves AWAY from a critical number. The big impact here has been on the total. An opener of 42.5 is down to 40 or 40.5 because Quinn is seen as less likely to get points on the board in a loss. Sharps have really become aggressive in recent years about betting totals when there’s a quarterback change at both the pro and college levels.
OAKLAND AT ATLANTA: Atlanta opened at -9.5, and moved away from the ten even though Oakland’s been playing so badly this year and this is another bad body clock game. Remember what happened in Miami? This suggests that oddsmakers and sharps think the “real” like is closer to 7.5 or 8. Sportsbooks are hoping the public will lay a bad number on the favorite on game day. Of course, it’s possible that some sharps are moving on Oakland to try and drive the line down into the teaser window at Atlanta -8.5. The whole world would come in on the Falcons in two-point teasers at -2.5…so sportsbooks aren’t very interested in moving to that degree. The deeper you get into the season, the more sportsbooks guard against teasers because sharper lines make teasers a better percentage play.
DALLAS AT BALTIMORE: One of the most anticipated games of the week saw sharp interest on the Cowboys at the opener of +4. We’re seeing +3.5 as we go to press. The Cowboys had a bye last week and are in something close to a must-win situation after their Monday Night loss to Chicago. Baltimore has been inconsistent since that season opening blowout of Cincinnati. The total is down a point from 45 to 44.
DETROIT AT PHILADELPHIA: We’ve seen a big move on the Lions, from an opener of +6.5 down to +4. That tells you that Matthew Stafford is likely to play at full strength off the Lions’bye…and it also tells you how little faith sharps have in Michael Vick at the moment. The Eagles are only playing nailbiters this year (outside of a big loss in Arizona). They won’t get Wise Guy support as chalk until they play well in that role.
ST. LOUIS AT MIAMI: Sharp love for the Dolphins continues this week. Miami opened at -3 vs. St. Louis, suggesting the two were even teams. Sharps hit the hosts and we’re now seeing -3.5. The Wise Guys were prominent in their support for Miami starting back in the Oakland game. They’ve largely been rewarded for that…particularly vs. the Raiders and then last week in Cincinnati. The total is down a half a point from 38 to 37.5. That’s bigger than it seems because 38 is a key total number in projected defensive battles. Moving OFF the 38 in a downward direction suggests strong Under support from those in the know.
NEW ENGLAND AT SEATTLE: New England opened at -4, which might strike some of you as low given their recent blowout performances. But, sharps fell in love with Seattle during the preseason, and have hit the Seahawks here to drive the line down to the hosts +3.5. We’re hearing from our sources that the key is the combination of New England flying cross country after a high profile game and Seattle’s strong defense. Sharps like defensive home underdogs even without bonus intangibles.
BUFFALO AT ARIZONA: Tough call here…because Arizona’s offense has been abysmal this year, making them a shaky take as favorites…but Buffalo has fallen apart in recent weeks. The best way to describe this is that there are competing factions who have light opinions either way. Dog guys will lean away from the lethargic favorite. Math guys see Buffalo’s bad defense and can make a light stat case for the hosts. This will be one of the lightest bet NFL games of the month.
MINNESOTA AT WASHINGTON: This game has largely stayed off the board pending the status of Robert Griffin III as he recovers from a concussion. Midweek news suggested he had a good chance to see the field this weekend. Oddsmakers want certainty because there is a likely drop-off to the backup. We can tell you that sharps are growing more and more impressed with Minnesota by the week…and that they’re less impressed with RGIII now than they were after the New Orleans game to a significant degree.
NY GIANTS AT SAN FRANCISCO: The biggest game of the day is a rematch from the NFC Championship showdown last January. Sharps have been impressed by San Francisco’s offensive balance this year…and have hit the 49ers at -5.5 to drive them up to -6 or -6.5. Note that San Francisco was only -2 in this game in last year’s playoffs…and they LOST that game. That puts the Wise Guys’ respect into better context. They’re REALLY impressed with what they’re seeing from Jim Harbaugh’s team.
GREEN BAY AT HOUSTON: It’s interesting that Houston is also a very respected team amongst sharps…but the line has moved toward Green Bay here in the Sunday Nighter on NBC. Green Bay opened at +5, but it’s down to +3.5 or +4 as we go to press. Why the move away from the Texans? We’re hearing it’s a combination of the short week off their Monday Night win in New York, and the fact that the Packers are in a season-defining spot on the schedule after some early disappointments. Also, though this hasn’t happened often of late…Aaron Rodgers is a good guy to have on the field in a back-door cover situation late in the fourth quarter. It’s harder to beat GREAT quarterbacks by more than a field goal because they can reduce deficits of 8-10 points in the final moments.
DENVER AT SAN DIEGO: Peyton Manning is still getting respect from the Wise Guys. An opener of +3 on Monday Night is already down to +1. That game swung through teaser zone in many places because sportsbooks don’t want bettors taking Manning up to +7.5 or better. There are many sharps who picked Denver over San Diego to win the AFC West before the season started. This is the manifestation of that sentiment…in the first regular season meeting between the teams. Oddsmakers had the teams rated equal…sharps bet who they think is the better neutral field side.
That wraps up today’s look at the NFL markets. The best way to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp is to visit VegasSportsMasters every day! Be sure you check out the display ads on the home page, and the expanded service details on the “buy picks” page for big play bulletins every day this weekend for the very best college and pro selections.