Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, January 9, 2015 at 1:00 PM
Four more games in the NFL Playoffs this weekend, as the bye teams take the field against last week’s winners. Historically, this round has set up very simply. Oddsmakers shade the number against the home favorites…knowing that squares (the public) almost always takes the superior seeds in these games. Squares bet the public teams against those inflated numbers anyway. Sharps come in on the underdogs on the assumption that the free points will pay off over the long haul.
It’s hard to say how dramatically that will play out this weekend. None of the four favorites have really been in “juggernaut” mode recently even though they all have won-lost records of 12-4. Plus, two quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning) have been dealing with injuries. That’s inspired some early sharp money from Wise Guys who figured what they were seeing at the time was the best they would be getting on the dog.
Let’s go game-by-game in kickoff order…
BALTIMORE RAVENS at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (4:35 ET Saturday on NBC)
The first numbers up offshore were New England -7.5. The first money in was on the dog because of the importance of the key number of seven. That inspired most straggler stores to go up with Patriots -7 as their opener. That’s where it is right now. Sharps would definitely fade any public move off the seven toward the Patriots. It’s very hard to see this game dropping below seven unless there’s a late injury story or the public just doesn’t come in as actively as expected. The best expectation is either a tug-of-war between New England -7 and Baltimore +7.5, or a stable seven through the day.
The Over/Under has dropped a point from 49 to 48 because it’s still very cold in the Northeast. Temperatures are likely to be in the teens…and the wind chill could be worse here than it will be Sunday in Green Bay. Some stores are testing 47.5 as we get closer to kickoff. The public usually takes Overs in the playoffs because they like rooting for points. They may not be in the mood to do that this weekend in the frigid cities.
CAROLINA PANTHERS at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8:15 ET Saturday on FOX)
Seattle opened at a very high price of -11.5. Early money in was on the underdog, so we’re seeing Carolina +11 most everywhere now. This Seattle team has a tendency to play down to its competition this season…which may keep squares off the defending Super Bowl champions at such a high price. Many old school guys always take double digits in football. That contingent will definitely be on the dog here. I’m not hearing a lot of passion for the Panthers otherwise because their offense is such a big question mark at this site. Mostly value bets from sharps on the dog.
The Over/Under is down from 40.5 to 39.5 on the chance of rain (temps should be okay in the mid 40’s). Plus I’m hearing the quants are showing more of their scoring simulations in the 30’s rather than the 40’s given the caliber of defenses on the field.
DALLAS COWBOYS at GREEN BAY PACKERS (1:10 ET Sunday on FOX)
The line has dropped from an opener of Green Bay -6.5 down to Green Bay -5.5 on the news that Aaron Rodgers may be playing with a muscle “tear” in his injured calf. Green Bay money is waiting for more news on that before kickoff…while Dallas money figured they’d better jump in on the news because the line could drop further if Rodgers is going to be seriously hobbled.
It’s interesting to note that the total hasn’t dropped from an opener of 52.5 even though the game will be played in the teens temperature-wise. The lack of a strong wind should help passing accuracy. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the total comes down before kickoff if Rodgers is shown moving gingerly in pre-game coverage.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at DENVER BRONCOS (4:40 ET Sunday on CBS)
Similar situation here to Ravens/Colts in that the high profile AFC team is sitting exactly on -7 against a dangerous opponent. Sharps would fade any public move off the seven toward Denver. Money flow here may be influenced by earlier results. If the first favorites are winning blowouts, then squares will have some money to play with…and will have more confidence that Peyton Manning can do the same. If the favorites are all in tough battles, it becomes more difficult for the square mentality to assume the Broncos will run away and hide given Peyton Manning’s pesky ailments.
This is the only total that’s moved up so far. An opener of 53 is up to 54. Temperatures are supposed to be in the low 40’s under a bright sun…which is relatively balmy by this weekend’s standards (you should see Las Vegas in a cold January!). Indianapolis tends to play high scoring games against quality opponents because the game turns into a shootout. Sharps thought 53 undersold expectations just a bit.
Summing up…we know that sharps didn’t like any of the four favorites because they didn’t jump in to beat the rush before the public started betting. Sharps would have taken out the sevens in New England and Denver for sure because those are key numbers. Sharps will either be on the dogs at slightly higher prices before kickoff if squares move the lines…or will accept what’s on the board as the best they’re going to get. On the totals, sharps were on the Unders in the weather spots, and the Over where it was relatively nice.
You’ll be able to purchase my BEST BETS Saturday and Sunday 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 Baltimore/New England kicks off. Be sure to ask about combination packages that include college basketball, the rest of the NFL playoffs, and Monday night’s college football National Championship game featuring Oregon and Ohio State
I’ll be back with you midday Monday to talk about sharp betting in that college championship. Ohio State’s been getting some market support of late, which has dropped the line below a touchdown. For now, the focus is on this weekend’s NFL Playoffs. Enjoy the games. Thanks for reading. See you Monday.
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