Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, January 2, 2015 at 2:00 PM
After an amazing week of college football action, we’re now ready for the NFL Playoffs to start with Wildcard Weekend. There are two games Saturday, and then two more Sunday. Normally I post the information in Nevada Rotation order. That’s a bit confusing this week because Nevada listed the second game first both days. I’ll just go in kickoff order so it matches the way you’ll be watching the games. We start Saturday in Carolina.
ARIZONA CARDINALS at CAROLINA PANTHERS (4:20 ET Saturday on ESPN)
The game opened Carolina -4 on the assumption that Drew Stanton would probably be able to come back and play for Arizona. It shot all the way up to Carolina -6.5 when it became clear that Ryan Lindley was the much more likely quarterback for the visiting Cards. Lindley has really struggled the past two weeks against good defenses…and he’s facing another good defense here. Based on the way the market usually works when a 6.5 is widely available for a sustained period, you can assume that sharp Arizona money would come in fairly hard at +7 if the public drives the line higher. That may not happen though, because squares may not be interested in laying points with a “losing” team.
The Over/Under has dropped from a low 39 to an even lower 37.5. That’s because of the quarterback situation in Arizona, and the high percentage forecast that it will be raining during the game. Lindley would have had trouble passing in ideal conditions! This will be the least bet NFL game of the weekend because of its low marquee value, early starting time relative to the field, and anticipation of a defensive struggle (the public loves offense).
BALTIMORE RAVENS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8:15 ET Saturday on NBC)
This will definitely be the showcase game of the first day, and second only in marquee value to the Dallas game on Sunday. It’s shaping up as a tug-of-war between Pittsburgh -3 and Baltimore +3.5. Sharps really like the Ravens when the hook is in play. Pittsburgh money from some sharp syndicates and squares comes in at the field goal. Hard to see how that changes between now and kickoff unless there’s some Baltimore money waiting to see what it can get before finally committing.
The Over/Under has dropped two points from 47 to 45. The quants didn’t have it as high as the oddsmakers on the opener. And, it looks like game night weather will be inhibiting offenses. The current forecast is for low 40’s, rain, and sustained winds around 10-12 mph. These teams have historically played defensive battles…but this year’s Pittsburgh team is a bit more wide-open than in the past.
CINCINNATI BENGALS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (1:05 ET Sunday on CBS)
Both of Sunday’s games will be indoors, so no weather concerns. Sharps liked Cincinnati +4 on the opener. We’re now seeing a potential tug-of-war between Cincinnati +3.5 and Indianapolis -3. If the public bets Indianapolis as the short home favorite on game day, that tug-of-war is likely to hold strong until kickoff. Sharps are no longer in love with the Colts vs. playoff caliber opposition. And, they’re okay with taking Andy Dalton as an underdog…but not a favorite (which won’t be in play this postseason). So, sharps are on the Bengals strong at +4, and with confidence at +3.5. The percentages switch on the solid three, which is what brings in Colts money. Nothing happening yet on the Over/Under of 48.
DETROIT LIONS at DALLAS COWBOYS (4:40 ET Sunday on FOX)
Dallas opened at -6, and was immediately bet up. Sharps preferring the Cowboys knew they wouldn’t see anything better than that. Many Wise Guys are impressed with the Cowboys offensive balance this season. Combine those bettors with those who know about Matthew Stafford’s horrible road record vs. good teams…and there was a lot of interest in the Cowboys on the six. We’re now looking at a possible tug-of-war between Dallas -6.5 and Detroit +7. Sharp underdog money does start to come in when the key number of seven is breached. Those who aren’t sold on Tony Romo are happy to take a full TD against him. Nothing on the total yet here either. Game day moves in Indy and Dallas on the Over/Under will probably be driven by squares. If the public pushes the games at least a point higher “rooting” for offense, we’d probably see some buy back from the quants on Under those higher totals.
You’ll be able to purchase my game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about my personal service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 Friday afternoon or Saturday before Arizona/Carolina kicks off. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include college basketball, the rest of the NFL playoffs, and the college football National Championship game featuring Oregon and Ohio State (which opened at Oregon -7 and has been bet up early to -7.5 by the way).
That’s it for this week’s sharp reports. Our next NFL breakdown will be a week from today to cover the Divisional Round of the playoffs that feature bye teams Seattle, Green Bay, New England, and Denver playing at home. I have a special College Championship edition scheduled for Monday, January 12 to cover Oregon/Ohio State.
Thanks for reading. Have a GREAT weekend. See you again next week.
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