Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM
You may have noticed that the NFL has been cranking out UNDERS at an astonishing pace in recent action. Last Thursday’s game between Arizona and St. Louis didn’t have any touchdowns. Most of the early Sunday games stayed Under. ALL of the late afternoon Sunday games stayed Under. Then, the Monday Night game stayed Under even with a lot of garbage time scoring.
Even more amazing to me, all of that was happening in a week that had a lot of non-offensive touchdowns. There were punt return TDs, interception return TDs, even a blocked field goal return TD. Yet, games went 3-13 to the Under in Week 15 of the NFL, which was on the heels of 6-10 the prior week.
What’s happened to NFL offenses?
Here are a few quick answers…
Many starting quarterbacks are out with injuries
Many other starting quarterbacks are playing hurt
Many teams are emphasizing running the clock rather scoring points
Defenses have made adjustments to rules changes regarding defensive holding
Defenses are doing an excellent job of taking away first and second reads
There are still some start quarterbacks who can move the ball. Healthy veterans like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have been putting up big numbers. Ben Roethlisberger is having one of his best seasons in years because he’s stayed healthy. Peyton Manning has backed off the gas a little because of nagging injuries in recent games. He was putting up big numbers before then. But, otherwise, it’s been pretty bleak if you’re the type who roots for offense.
The most important angle for me as a handicapper is that odddsmakers and the sharpest bettors have been way too slow to adjust. It’s not all those games last Sunday were squeaking Under. All of the following land on 34 total points or less (using rotation order):
Arizona at St. Louis (18)
Jacksonville at Baltimore (32)
Houston at Indianapolis (27)
Cincinnati at Cleveland (30)
Green Bay at Buffalo (34)
Minnesota at Detroit (30)
NY Jets at Tennessee (27)
Denver at San Diego (32)
San Francisco at Seattle (24)
That’s TEN games registering at 34 or less…and it’s been YEARS since Vegas regularly posted Over/Unders anywhere that low in December NFL action. Believe it or not, if oddsmakers had knocked SEVEN points off of last week’s totals…a full touchdown…games still would have gone 4-12 to the Under.
Should this influence your handicapping over the last two weeks of the regular season? Absolutely! Here are a few ideas:
*Assume lame duck games will have relatively little scoring because bad teams are saddled with inexperienced quarterbacks, and everyone seems interested in getting games over with quickly to avoid major injuries.
*Assume elite teams will sit on leads in the second half, possibly limiting their ability to run up the score as big favorites. If you like backing the best teams, you have less margin for error now because the back door is open.
*Really focus on the quarterback position in each game. Think of it like it’s a pitching battle in baseball. Last week you could have had Drew Brees over Jay Cutler at a cheap price. Utterly inexperienced Johnny Manziel was a favorite over veteran Andy Dalton. See if you can find “pitching” value on this week’s schedule.
*And, obviously, look for smart UNDER bets all over the card!
Remember, last week’s scoring was very low despite being inflated by non-offensive points! The market has a big adjustment to make to match the new reality…and the market never moves quickly in situations like this. I wouldn’t bet Unders with the best quarterbacks who are still in good healthy, or with up-tempo teams that try to cram a lot of plays into 60 minutes. With everyone else, see what you can find.
I’m not going to talk more specifically about individual matchups because I want to protect the selections I’m releasing to my paying clients. I can tell you that I have a few spots circled for very serious play. And, that could include a Thursday or Saturday NFL pick as well as the standard Sunday fare. Don’t forget about the two pro football games we have on Saturday this week!
If you’d like some help picking out the best options, you can purchase my daily BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to check on my bowl package NOW because there are five bowl games Saturday!
Our next class get together here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping will be Monday. That should be before you’re too tied up with holiday festivities with your family. I haven’t decided yet if that will be a college or pro football topic. I’ll let this week’s action determine that. I’ll most likely be reviewing those first five bowl games to see what they might be hinting at regarding the next big batch of games that will also feature mostly mid-major teams.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping continues to be humbled by your enthusiastic attendance. Thanks very much for making this such a popular online feature over the years. Best of luck to you this weekend.
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