Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Still no touchdowns scored this week in the NFL, as Thursday Night’s game between Arizona and St. Louis turned out to be a battle of field goals. There should definitely be some excitement Sunday with matchups like Green Bay/Buffalo, Miami/New England, Denver/San Diego, and Dallas/Philadelphia. Let’s see how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting Week 15 of the NFL season. Games are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules.
OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY: An opener of Kansas City -12 was bet down to -10. I’ve mentioned recently that sharps have fallen out of love with the Chiefs. Oakland showed up for the first game against their divisional rivals, and then played well last week against local rival San Francisco. The old school guys who bet all double digit dogs and the quants thought the opener was out line. No interest yet on the Over/Under. I’ll only mention totals that have moved at least a point off the opener from this point forward.
JACKSONVILLE AT BALTIMORE: An opener of Baltimore -13.5 has mostly stood pat, though some stores have tested the key number of -14. The Ravens would have been bet immediately up to -14 if the sharps had liked them with any sort of passion. Those preferring the dog (including the old school guys) are waiting to see if +14 becomes more widely available after the public gets involved. This isn’t likely to be a heavily bet game. Though, I’m fairly certain there would be more interest on the Jaguars +14 then there’s been so far on the Ravens -13.5.
PITTSBURGH AT ATLANTA: Pittsburgh opened at -2.5, and wasn’t bet up to three. That tells you that sharps like Atlanta here. Most stores are now down to Atlanta +2. If the line doesn’t change from that, you can be sure that Atlanta +8 will be popular in two-team teasers because the six-point adjustment would cross both the three and the seven in one fell swoop. Though, the fact that the game’s Over/Under is so high (54.5 or 55) means that point value is cheapened a bit for teasers.
HOUSTON AT INDIANAPOLIS: Another game that opened near a critical number and didn’t move instantly toward the favorite. Indianapolis is -6.5 at home. If sharps liked the Colts, they would have hit that right away. Houston has been getting a lot of respect from the Wise Guys of late. Indianapolis had been, but failed to play to those loftier expectations again last week in Cleveland. If squares bet the Colts up to the key number of seven, sharps would fade the public pretty hard on the Texans. Any time you see a football number sit on a line like 6.5 or 2.5 for a long time, sharp inaction is a very telling indicator. The total has come down from 50 to 49 and many spots. Looks like more quants made the game 49 than 50.
CINCINNATI AT CLEVELAND: Big move here as Cleveland went from being a home underdog to either pick-em or a slight favorite. Cincinnati went up at -2.5. That represents a fairly large Power Ratings differential once you factor in home field advantage. Sharps disagreed with that…and then support for Johnny Manziel came into the mix as well. It’s not a hard charging bandwagon because the Browns aren’t moving any higher than -1 anywhere yet. The line move was a mix of anti-Cincinnati and “maybe Manziel will provide a spark” sentiment. The total didn’t move off the opener of 44, which isn’t exactly an endorsement that Johnny Football will bring more offense than Brian Hoyer had been providing.
MIAMI AT NEW ENGLAND: An opener of New England -8 has come down slightly to New England -7.5. This is an interesting spot amidst important numbers. New England is right above the key number of seven, but right in the basic strategy window for two-team teasers. Given how well the Patriots have been playing the past several weeks, they’d be bet very heavily at -7, or…if the line stays where it is…bet very heavily in two-team teasers at -1.5 or -2. Sharps have fallen out of love with Miami in similar fashion to what we’ve seen with Kansas City. Those who wanted the Dolphins took the eight. Will the public love the Patriots enough on game day to drive the line higher than the teaser window? I’m very interested in seeing how this plays out.
TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA: This line moved quickly off the news that Cam Newton had been injured in a serious car accident. The opener of Panthers -5.5 and 43.5 is now Panthers -3 and 41. This probably won’t be a heavily bet game because there’s little love for Tampa Bay, and not much enthusiasm to bet a rusty quarterback as a divisional home favorite.
WASHINGTON AT NY GIANTS: Common story this week, with another favorite not getting support a half point below a key number. The Giants opened at -6.5 and have stayed there. As bad as the Redskins have looked lately, sharps wouldn’t lay that number. The public might. I believe the Wise Guys would take Washington at +7 for value. Possibly a light tug-of-war on game day between NYG -6.5 and Washington +7 if New York money does find the market. This isn’t likely to be a heavily bet game outside of whatever influence New York fans have. The Over/Under has been bet down from 48 to 47.
GREEN BAY AT BUFFALO: Sharps took the motivated home underdog at the opener of +5 against the road favorite who had to play Monday Night. Stores are now either showing Buffalo +4 or +4.5. I would expect some Green Bay money to come in on game day because the public likes betting Green Bay at cheap prices. Sharps have loved this Buffalo defense all season, and managed to cash with the Bills in Denver last week even though the team didn’t play particularly well. Squares love offense, sharps love defense. Guess which approach wins more money over the long haul?
MINNESOTA AT DETROIT: Detroit opened at -7.5, and has held steady at many locales. A few are testing Detroit -7 because only Vikings money has been coming in thus far. The public may bet the Lions on game day because Detroit is coming off easy wins over Chicago and Tampa Bay. Another awkward spot here for sportsbooks. Detroit -7 would probably get hit fairly hard by the public. Detroit -7.5 puts the Lions in the teaser window. You could be sure that a teaser combination of New England and Detroit both at -1.5 would be one of the most popular pairings of the whole season in terms of betting volume. A really big totals move here, as an opener of 44 is down to 41.5 in some spots. You know that’s not weather related because the game will be played in a dome.
NY JETS AT TENNESSEE: The Jets impressed some people with their effort at Minnesota last week, even if the team ended up losing in overtime. More importantly, Tennessee has played so poorly of late that it’s impossible to bet them. That’s why this game moved from Tennessee -1 on the opener to the NY Jets -2.5. Some stores are trying out the key number of three just to see if that encourages anyone to take a shot on the Titans. This would have been a lightly bet game if not for the fact that Tennessee might be tanking given loss margins of 29, 24, and 19 points since their close Monday Night loss to Pittsburgh.
DENVER AT SAN DIEGO: Denver opened at -3.5, and was bet up to -4. That’s only a half a point…but it moved away from the key number of three which implies additional strength. Nobody wanted the Chargers at +3.5, and they aren’t exactly popular at +4 after fading so badly last week at home against New England. Squares will probably bet Peyton Manning and Denver at what looks to them like a cheap price, especially after New England won by 9 on this same field in a big TV game. It might take as many as +5 before sharps hit the Chargers with enthusiasm. San Diego only gained 216 yards last week.
SAN FRANCISCO AT SEATTLE: Very interesting situation here. Seattle opened at -8.5, which is very high for this particular matchup in terms of recent meetings. But, sharps have fallen back in love with Seattle again (which paid off handsomely vs. Philadelphia last week), and it looks like San Francisco has fallen apart. As a result, the game was bet up to Seattle -10. That will at least keep the Seahawks out of the teaser window, which sportsbooks are grateful for. How many bettors will take San Francisco +10 after the Niners just lost to Oakland, and lost at home to this same Seattle team 19-3 on Thanksgiving Night? Old school guys will take a flyer on the big divisional dog with revenge. It might take more than ten to get other sharps. Most sharps and oddsmakers now have Seattle back at Super Bowl caliber in their Power Ratings.
DALLAS AT PHILADELPHIA (Sunday Night): Not much betting interest yet here. But, that lack of interest is telling because the opener was Philly -3.5. Dallas didn’t bring in sharp money even though the game was just above the most important number in football…and even though Dallas is one of the few public teams that generates interest as an underdog. We can deduce sharps are looking at Philadelphia, and are hoping for a better price. If they don’t get it, they may just leave the game alone. I’m definitely interested in seeing how this plays out during the day Sunday. It’s a huge TV game that will inspire squares to bet. It’s not clear who the public will line up on. Perhaps sentiment will split out at the 3.5. Sharps would definitely come in hard on the Eagles at -3 based on my read of the market. Dallas +4 would bring in Wise Guy money on the dog.
NEW ORLEANS AT CHICAGO (Monday Night): No interest yet in this one. New Orleans opened at -3 and is still there. Very tough to bet either side right now. New Orleans obviously has a lot more to play for, and they’re not imploding publicly in the media the way Chicago is. But, their results have been awful in recent weeks outside of a couple of good games here and there. I expect the public to bet the favorite on game day. Sharps would probably fade any move off the three for value. These teams have missed the mark by so much so often this season though that point value lessens on any move.
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I’ll be back with you again next Thursday to talk about the NFL matchup and the first five college bowl games. We’ll have bowl reports every few days after that to keep you up-to-date on market developments through the college postseason. Thanks for reading…and for telling your friends about these reports. I can tell many of you have been doing that as this web feature’s popularity continues to grow.
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