Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, December 26, 2014 at 4:00 PM
I’m glad I waited a few hours to put up the NFL report this week! News just broke that Kansas Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith will miss Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers because of a lacerated spleen. Bad luck for KC, though they still need some help to earn a Wildcard even if they can beat the Chargers.
As always I’ll take the games in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule. Here’s how sharps have been betting the final Sunday of NFL action in the 2014 season…
DETROIT AT GREEN BAY: The market has been solid on Green Bay -7.5 all week. It’s probably telling that Lions money didn’t come in so close to the key number of seven. But, it’s possible that sharps preferring the dog are waiting to see if they can get at least +8 before kickoff. The public is likely to bet a Super Bowl contending favorite in an important home game at any price that seems affordable to them. And, this one was time-changed to a later start, which gives squares more time to bet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the eight comes into play before kickoff. Note that Green Bay is in the basic strategy teaser window, and will be a popular choice at -1.5 of -2 in two-teamers. Nothing happening on the Over/Under. I won’t mention totals from this point forward unless there’s been a move of at least a point. (Hint: I’ll hardly be mentioning any totals!)
JACKSONVILLE AT HOUSTON: Houston opened at -9.5. That didn’t rise right away to the key number of 10…but a few stores are testing it as we go to press. Houston needs to win and get a lot of help to reach the playoffs. Jacksonville is down at the bottom of the standings worrying about the draft. Sharps haven’t shown much interest, and might come in on the Jags if the public drives the number higher before kickoff. If sharps had loved Houston, that -9.5 wouldn’t have lasted very long.
CINCINNATI AT PITTSBURGH: Pittsburgh opened at -3, and has been bet up to a solid -3.5. That’s a strong move even though it’s only a half a point because three is such a high percentage number. There wasn’t much buyback on the Bengals with the hook. Sharps were impressed that Pittsburgh handled Cincy so easily on the road recently. And, the Bengals are on a short week after beating Denver Monday Night.
INDIANAPOLIS AT TENNESSEE: A relatively dead spot on the schedule because Indianapolis doesn’t have much motivation to play great (similar to last week in Dallas) while Tennessee has motivation to lose for the draft. The Colts opened at -7 on the road. Some stores are testing -7.5 because the only money likely to come in will be on the favorite. The Over/Under is down from 48 to 46.5 on the assumption that both teams are fine with a fast game that ends quickly.
CLEVELAND AT BALTIMORE: Huge moves here off the news that Connor Shaw will get the start for Cleveland. Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer are both hurt. Shaw is very likely to struggle given his limited time with the team. Baltimore is up from -9 to -13, and the Over/Under has dropped from 42 to 39. Good luck for the Ravens, and very bad news for anyone that needs Baltimore to lose in the Wildcard race.
BUFFALO AT NEW ENGLAND: Nothing at stake here. New England will be the #1 seed in the AFC. Buffalo can’t make the playoffs. An opener of New England -3.5 has been bet up to Patriots -5. I’m hearing that’s based on the chance that exhausted Buffalo no-shows after flying back cross-country from Oakland. Very tough schedule spot for the Bills. New England will be off next week, and may use at least half of this game as a tune-up for the playoffs.
NY JETS AT MIAMI: Meaningless game that isn’t generating much betting interest. One or both head coaches may be fired on Monday. The money that has been coming in is on the NY Jets at the opener of +6. We might see +5.5 by kickoff.
CAROLINA AT ATLANTA: A divisional championship between two losing teams! The winner will take the NFC South and the #4 seed in the conference. An opener of Atlanta -3 has been bet up to -3.5. Very similar line scenario to Cincinnati/Pittsburgh. Sharps took the home team at the key number of a divisional championship game, and there wasn’t a buyback right away on the dog. The public will probably take favorites Pittsburgh and Atlanta on game day, particularly since each was moved to a later kickoff. It might take at least +4 for sharp dog money to come in on Cincinnati and Carolina.
CHICAGO AT MINNESOTA: Meaningless game. Minnesota opened at -7 because Chicago had been showing so little life lately. Jay Cutler is back in the starting lineup for the Bears because Jimmy Clausen is out with an injury. That inspired some Chicago betting just because it’s hard to justify Cutler getting seven points from Teddy Bridgewater. Most stores now have the game at Minnesota by six.
SAN DIEGO AT KANSAS CITY: Kansas City was at -3 or -3.5 when the news broke early Friday about Alex Smith. The game was moved immediately to pick-em because of the perceived differences between Smith and backup Chase Daniel. First money in was on the Chiefs at the new price. As I write this, most stores are showing KC -1. The total is down to 41 or 40.5 from the opener of 42.5. Note that San Diego clinches a Wildcard spot with a win. Kansas City needs to win and get help elsewhere to steal that spot.
PHILADELPHIA AT NY GIANTS: Meaningless game, but one that may be interesting to watch from a market perspective because the Giants have been playing so well of late. An opener of G-men -1.5 was bet up to -3 for quite awhile. Late in the week, Eagles money started coming in…causing many stores to go down to -2.5. That may set up a tug-of-war between NYG -2.5 and Philly +3. Money from both cities is known to make its way to Vegas for NFL games. This one could be a lot of fun for a meaningless game.
DALLAS AT WASHINGTON: Dallas is reportedly going to play its starters even though they’ve already clinched the NFC East and would need some big upsets to steal a bye as one of the top two seeds. They’ll probably be #3 and host a Wildcard team next week. The news that Dallas would play its starters lifted the line from an opener of -5 to -5.5. Washington did cover in an upset of Philadelphia last week…and would probably get sharp support if the line goes up to +6.
NEW ORLEANS AT TAMPA BAY: Meaningless game, outside of Tampa Bay’s possible concerns about draft position. New Orleans opened at -3.5 and was bet up to -4.
ST. LOUIS AT SEATTLE: Seattle’s looking at the #1 seed in the NFC if they win. That didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago. They opened at -13.5 against a lame duck opponent. But, that opponent has been getting a lot of respect from sharps in the second half of the season. St. Louis has been all the way down to +12.5. Not only is that a move of a full point…but it went away from the key number of 14. Sharps like getting so many points in what’s projected to be a low scoring affair.
ARIZONA AT SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco has been bet up from -4 to -6.5 because of Arizona’s messy quarterback situation…and the fact that Arizona may be more worried about the Wildcard game they have to play next week. Very difficult to bet the Cards right now given how hard it is for them to move the ball vs. good defenses. Arizona is still technically in the battle for the NFC West crown and the #1 seed, but they need Seattle to lose as a double digit favorite! Knowing that’s such a longshot, the Cards may not be playing at peak intensity in the second half if they see Seattle has jumped to a big lead. It might take +7 to bring Arizona money into the market.
OAKLAND AT DENVER: Denver needs to win to clinch the #2 seed, though a Cincinnati loss later in the day would serve the same purpose. No reason for the Broncos to take that risk though. The line opened at -14 and has mostly stood pat. Some sharps have taken flyers on Oakland (particularly the old school sharps who like big divisional underdogs…they were on both the Rams and Raiders). I have seen a 13.5 on the board. The public may not be paying much attention to this one, and will be saving their Bronco investments until the playoffs.
You can purchase my BEST BETS for week 17 NFL right here at the VSM website with your credit card early Sunday. If you have any questions about my personal service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. The price for the rest of football is very affordable. Be sure you ask about basketball too. Conference action in the colleges will be here before you know it.
Have a great weekend! My next report covering bowl games will go up early Monday. We’ll look at the six college games set for Monday and Tuesday kickoffs. I’ll have another report late Tuesday or early Wednesday that will review sharp betting action in the three New Year’s Eve Bowls and the five games on New Year’s Day (including Oregon/FSU and Alabama/OSU in the Final Four).
There’s going to be a lot of buzz out here in Vegas over the next few weeks. A very exciting time to be part of the marketplace. Thanks for reading. See you Monday!
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