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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 2:23 AM

The injury situation for the NY Giants has led to a bunch of sharp money hitting the Carolina Panthers in the Thursday Night game that kicks off Week Three of the NFL season. The Giants opened as a favorite of -1.5 points, but are now +2.5 as we go to press with a chance for additional line moves during the course of the day.

We start off our weekly look at what the sharps (Wise Guy bettors in Nevada and offshore) are thinking in the NFL with that Giants/Panthers showdown set for prime time on the NFL Network.

NY GIANTS AT CAROLINA: Receiver Hakeem Nicks won’t even make the trip. Dominek Hixon is another receiver who won’t be able to go. Ahmad Bradshaw is out at running back. David Diehl from the offensive line is out too. That’s how you make an NFL line move four points! We should note that the line hasn’t moved all the way to a field goal as of press time…and there are indications that sharps would come in on Eli Manning and the dog at that price. Carolina is seen as sharp value at numbers below a field goal…but percentages would switch over to New York at the key number based on what we’re hearing from our sources in the markets. Note that the total has fallen from 52 to 49.5 because New York’s offense is so banged up. The market responded logically on both the side and the total to NY’s injury news. Moving to Sunday…

ST. LOUIS AT CHICAGO: The Bears opened at -8, and have come down to -7.5. This is a tricky spot for sportsbooks. Were the line to stay here, then Chicago will be a logical choice in “basic strategy” two-team teasers that involve any move across both the 3 and the 7. Chicago could be moved down to -1.5. Yet, if sportsbooks drop the line to the key number of -7, that could bring in a lot of favorite money on a team the public likes to bet. Rock and a hard place in terms of exposure. Will sportsbooks want to root for St. Louis +1.5 in teasers, or St. Louis +7 on a pure team side? Sharps felt that eight was a touch high given Chicago’s poor play last week. Sharps will be playing the Bears in teasers though if that line sticks at -7.5. Note that we won’t mention any Over/Unders that haven’t shown meaningful movement. Nothing to report on the total here.

TAMPA BAY AT DALLAS: Dallas opened at -7, and got support at the key number from sharps in a way that moved the number generally to -7.5. We have seen an eight as we go to press. Tampa Bay is in a tough spot playing its second straight road game. Dallas is in a bounce-back spot after a bad loss. Systems guys will like Dallas at value there (which -7 represented). The public may hit the Cowboys too in what’s seen as a “must win” situation for them. Sportsbooks may end up taking the game to -9 to stay out of the teaser window. Depends on what the public does over the weekend. Sharps like Dallas at -7, will play them in teasers if they fall in the basic strategy window, but would probably take the Bucs at +9 based on what we’re hearing…maybe even +8.5 in concert with Cowboys teasers. Sharps play VALUE rather than teams!

SAN FRANCISCO AT MINNESOTA: We have another game dancing around the seven. This time it’s just underneath. San Francisco opened at -6, but has been bet up to -6.5 based on their strong early showing. We’re hearing some of this was position-taking for middles on the assumption that the public would keep driving the 49ers bandwagon. Sharps wanted SF at -6 just in case the line went to -7 or -7.5 for a strong middle option. Oddsmakers know this and are trying to figure out how to best manage their exposure. Both oddsmakers and sharps like rooting for NFL home underdogs. They’ll see what premium the public will pay to back the Niners.

DETROIT AT TENNESSEE: Our first visit with the number three sees Detroit get very strong support at -3 on the road here…with the line now settling everywhere at -3.5 as we go to press. We’ve told you in the past it takes a lot of money to move off a three. Sharps haven’t at all been impressed with Tennessee so far based on our discussions with sources. The Lions are laying chalk in a second road spot…with a short week off a Monday Night game…yet they STILL got bet! That tells you all you need to know about sharp analysis of Tennessee.

CINCINNATI AT WASHINGTON: Big move here on the total, with an opener of 46.5 moving up to 49. That’s based on respect for what Washington’s done offensively with Robert Griffin III so far…respect for Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton against what might be a soft Washington defense (high scoring games so far vs. New Orleans and St. Louis)…and what looks to be no threat of bad weather Sunday at the moment. This move really jumps out because none of the prior games were showing much of anything on Over/Unders. The game opened Washington -3.5, with sharp money coming in on the underdog Bengals because Dalton and Company give you backdoor potential even if they fall behind. We saw that last season. Sharps like dog and Over…and we may end up seeing a tug of war right on the three with the public backing RGIII at -3, and sharps on Cincinnati at +3.5. Sportsbooks may have to sweat the game landing exactly on three…which would be a push and a loss from their perspective.

NY JETS AT MIAMI: Ryan Tannehill impressed some people last week, as Miami earned sharp support early at +3 to bring the line down to a steady +2.5. It’s telling that the Jets weren’t bet back up to -3 when the line moved off the critical number. Sharps like Miami and the field goal…and many won on this field with Miami last week over Oakland. The Wise Guys hated the Jets in the season opener vs. Buffalo, and took a bad loss. The Jets looked so sluggish last week in Pittsburgh that the sharps now have no trouble going against them here.

KANSAS CITY AT NEW ORLEANS: Our first double digit line of the week, at least on an opener. New Orleans opened at -10, but was bet down to -9 from early sharp support for Kansas City. How can sharps bet on a Chiefs team that’s been beaten badly twice? The same thing happened last year! Kansas City started poorly but ultimately made a run at the playoffs. Sharps hate what they’re seeing this year from the New Orleans defense. There’s always garbage time potential against the Saints when they lay a high number. Sharps were happy to take the full ten. Remember that there’s still an old school faction that will take any double digit dog on principal.

BUFFALO AT CLEVELAND: Back to three’s, as Buffalo opened -2.5 and was bet up to -3 as a road favorite. Brandon Weeden played better last week for the Browns…but still isn’t seen as a quarterback you can trust with your money. A small line is basically “pick the winner,” and most veterans are going to get the nod over Weeden. Note that sharps weren’t passionate enough about Buffalo to drive the line above a field goal.

JACKSONVILLE AT INDIANAPOLIS: Very little interest in this game so far. Sharps aren’t fond of Blaine Gabbert of the Jags, and aren’t ready to lay points with a rookie quarterback yet…even if Andrew Luck did lead the Colts to victory last week vs. Minnesota. They almost blew a big lead! The public may not touch this low profile game either…setting up what will probably be the least bet game of the day.

PHILADELPHIA AT ARIZONA: We have a token move here on the home underdog Arizona. Sharps thought +4 was a bit too high. Sportsbooks aren’t likely to go down to a three because the public would jump all over the Eagles at that low price (as would the sharps who haven’t given up on Michael Vick yet). We wouldn’t be surprised if the public lays the 3.5 on game day. The Eagles are still getting some media run because they beat Baltimore last week (even though they didn’t cover).

ATLANTA AT SAN DIEGO: Interesting game here…as the sharps generally see Atlanta as the better team. But, that better team is in a horrible schedule spot. The Falcons are in a short preparation week off a Monday Night game…AND are flying cross country to play their second road game against an AFC West team in three weeks. Given a “normal” spot on the schedule, this line would have been between pick and two. Sharps will monitor public sentiment before getting involved, and may just pass the game. Sharps respect price, and oddsmakers aren’t giving them anything here given the situation.

HOUSTON AT DENVER: Houston got respect off the Denver Monday Night loss in the markets, as an opener of pick-em is now up to -2 for the Texans. Last year many sharps saw Houston as a true AFC Championship threat before injuries took away the possibility. The team is healthy now…and has a defense that can disrupt a Denver offense that’s still getting its rhythm down. You saw how turnovers hurt the Broncos this past Monday Night. We’re not talking about many totals this week. We’ve seen Under sentiment here, with an opener of 47.5 dropping to 45.5 or 46.

PITTSBURGH AT OAKLAND: The Steelers opened at -4.5, but are down to -4 as we go to press. Like Atlanta, Pittsburgh is playing its second road game in three weeks against an AFC East team. Unlike Atlanta, Pittsburgh is a road favorite! Sharps have NOT been impressed with Oakland so far, but those who bet early recognized the potency of this schedule spot for the home dog. The total has moved up from 43 to 45 on the assumption that Pittsburgh won’t be at a peak defensively with so much jet lag.

NEW ENGLAND AT BALTIMORE: Great Sunday Night matchup on NBC, revisiting the AFC Championship game last year that New England was fortunate to survive. We’re seeing a very solid three so far…with a chance that the line never moves and sportsbooks get a ton of action. You don’t often see the Patriots getting this many points. They looked awful last week vs. Arizona, and may no longer be the true class of this conference. We’re hearing split sentiment from sharps. Some believe the Ravens will make a statement. Others believe you should never give Tom Brady a field goal. Could be a great one.

GREEN BAY AT SEATTLE: Sharps hit the Monday Night home underdog early at +4.5. We’re now seeing what sets up to be a tug-of-war game between the three and the three-and-a-half. The public will love Green Bay at -3. Sharps, who finally got what they wanted out of Seattle last week will love anything higher than a field goal based on what we’re hearing. This should be another heavy action game for sportsbooks…and they’ll be hoping the game doesn’t land exactly on the three.

There are a lot of NFL games near critical numbers this week, which should set up great drama tonight, Sunday, and Monday.

That wraps up today’s look at the NFL markets. Look for this feature EVERY Thursday through the course of the NFL season. And, remember that the best way to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp is to visit VegasSportsMasters every day! The sharpest minds in the handicapping industry have big plans for this weekend in college football, pro football, and in the MLB pennant races. 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.

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