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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 7:00 PM

This has to be one of the weirdest sports betting situations ever. At the beginning of Week 15 in the NFL, a #1 seed in the NFC is getting more than a field goal on the road against a non-contender. And, sharps were actually betting the game higher off the opener!

What would cause such a thing?

*First, #1 seed Arizona is seen as a pretender. Well, a shorthanded pretender at that. They’re using a backup quarterback who seems to be in over his head. So, the market isn’t treating the Cardinals the way they would a more classic #1 seed like Green Bay or any other conference power. They’re pricing the Cardinals like a .500 caliber team or worse.

*Second, St. Louis is playing very well…and is only a non-contender right now because they were dealing with injuries earlier in the season. The Rams are coming off back to back shutouts of Oakland and Washington, and are playing at least at Wildcard level even after you adjust for those weak opponents.

If a Wildcard caliber team is at home against a .500 type team or worse, then they’re going to be about -4 or so in the Vegas line. It doesn’t matter what the won-lost records are. It matters how good (or mediocre) the teams are right now. Hence, the current #1 seed is seen as worse than the once lowly Rams!

Here are JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats to provide more perspective…


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Arizona: 10-3 (#13 schedule in USA Today)

St. Louis: 6-7 (#10 schedule in USA Today)

St. Louis is just under .500 against an above average schedule (thanks ranks #10 even though they just played Oakland and Washington!). That makes them .500 or better against a league average schedule despite dealing with injuries. The market has noticed and adjusted accordingly. Arizona has been a bit fortunate to get to 10-3, but wouldn’t be seen as an outright pretender if Carson Palmer was still the quarterback. Drew Stanton has been inconsistent in recent action, particularly in pressure situations.



Arizona: 5.3 on offense, 5.6 on defense

St. Louis: 5.3 on offense, 5.5 on defense

Virtually identical marks here…and in a bad way! Both teams are below breakeven in YPP differential. That’s a strike against Arizona come playoff time wherever they settle in the brackets (it’s still possible they miss the postseason at 10-6 if they lose out to St. Louis, Seattle, and San Francisco). St. Louis is playing better than what you see above right now. But, frankly, they might not be playing well enough to justify the current price. Running up stats on no-shows like Oakland and Washington doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a great team.


Turnover Differential

Arizona: +10

St. Louis: +4

Generally speaking, we de-emphasize the “turnovers are luck” theme here in the NOTEBOOK. The Patriots wouldn’t always have great differentials if turnovers were luck! But, for a team like Arizona, they probably have been catching some breaks given the skill sets of their quarterbacks. A good sign for both coaching staffs that these teams are on the right side of zero.


Market Performance

Arizona: 9-4 ATS

St. Louis: 7-6 ATS

Both teams have been moneymakers despite dealing with injuries. Arizona has been catching oddsmakers with their points down all season. Has the market underrated the Cardinals again this time around?


Current Line: St. Louis by 4.5, total of 39.5

Home field advantage is worth three points in the NFL…sometimes just two or two-and-a-half in divisional games. Clearly the markets see the Rams as the superior neutral field team given that line. Note the projection for a defensive struggle too. St. Louis has been impressive on defense lately…and has no reason to lose its swagger in a nationally televised home game against a divisional rival.

What’s the right way to play Thursday Night’s game? JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his full team of experts to make sure you get the right side or total. Our computer simulation program does a great job of emphasizing recent form…so that will tell us whether or not the market has overshot the mark. Our Wise Guy connections know what the smart money was doing early, and what it will likely be doing in the hours just before kickoff. The full TEAM HANDICAPPING APPROACH that’s exclusively available from NETWORK will get the job done!

You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about our college bowl package…and combination packages that also include December basketball. Don’t leave money on the table by passing sports you should be betting!

We’ll run the numbers for Army/Navy tomorrow here in the NOTEBOOK. If you’re a big NFL fan, pro football returns Sunday and Monday for prime time previews…

Friday: Early Look: Army vs. Navy in college football

Saturday: College Hoops TV Preview…North Carolina at Kentucky

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Dallas at Philadelphia on NBC

Monday: NFL TV Preview…New Orleans at Chicago on ESPN

It’s vital that you get your ducks in a row right now before the bowl onslaught begins. With nightly basketball….and very soon nightly football…the money is waiting for you to run up and grab it. You’ll always GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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