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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM

Only one game before Sunday this week…because major college football takes a week off before the bowls get started on Saturday December 19. So, today I’ll have an expanded look at Thursday night’s Minnesota/Arizona game in the NFL…followed by some general market notes about the bowl schedule.



MINNESOTA AT ARIZONA (on NFL Network): A lot of both sharp and square interest on favored Arizona here. The opener of Arizona -7 was bet up to -7.5 quickly. You already know that’s a big move even though it’s only half a point. Anything off a key number that holds represents strong sharp sentiment. Well, that was just the beginning! The game flew through eight and nine, and is now sitting at Arizona -9.5 in many stores. And, that’s without any serious injury news for the Vikings.

What happened? It’s very clearly THIS:

Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13

Seattle 38, Minnesota 7

The Vikings were recently outclassed badly by two other NFC championship contenders. And, both of those games happened at HOME. Tonight’s game is in Arizona Furthermore, the Cardinals and Carson Palmer are more explosive this year than either of those Green Bay and Seattle offenses. The perception from sharps and squares alike is that Arizona should win by double digits.

Will the line get to double digits before kickoff? I wouldn’t be surprised. That key number should inspire some buy back. And, at the very least, all the old school guys who take every double digit NFL underdog on principal will step in. Dog money is certainly biding its time right now to see if +10 comes into play. There’s no reason to bet +9.5 early in the day for a night TV game when you know the general public wants to bet the favorite!

A move on the Over/Under also represents support for Arizona. The opening total of 45 is up to 46.5. Arizona’s wide-open attack generally leads to Overs…while Minnesota’s run-based offense drives Unders. If you like Arizona…you’re going to like the Over because they’re more likely to impose their preferred style on proceedings. The market likes Arizona…and therefore the Over. Perhaps there will be some buy back if 47 comes on the board. There definitely would be at 48, which is a “key” number for totals (28-20, 27-21, 31-17, 34-14 are some common examples).

That’s the only game to talk about for now. I’ll cover the rest on our usual Friday report. Here are some quick market-related bowl notes:

*Sharps often wait until much closer to game time before making big bets. So, these openers a couple of weeks ahead of kickoff are only “shaped” a bit at first with low limit betting. You can’t necessarily deduce what big bets are ahead by looking at early line movement.

*Sharps want to wait to see if there are going to be suspensions of key players (which has been unfortunately common in recent seasons), key injuries in practice, major headlines about coaching changes, or weather-related news before making big investments. They’ve been burned too often in the past! The last thing a sharp wants to hear is that his star quarterback or running back was suspended for grades or misbehavior hours before the game.

*Sharps also pay a lot of attention to field or turf conditions at the smaller bowls in stadiums that aren’t well-suited to football. It’s tougher to score in Yankee Stadium for example (Pinstripe Bowl) because the turf is so bad and it can be brittle in New York in late December. If you see a big Under move in a bowl that doesn’t seem connected to weather or talent, it’s often a result of reports on poor turf.

Something for you to think about as we gear up for the college football postseason. Here’s where the bowls fit into the upcoming schedule of “sharp” reports…

Tomorrow: Our regular NFL report goes up at lunchtime for Week 14.

Next Thursday: Tampa Bay at St. Louis in the NFL plus the first FIVE bowl games that go on opening Saturday (New Mexico, Las Vegas, Camellia, Auto Nation, and New Orleans bowls).

Friday December 18: NFL Week 15, regular report.

Monday December 21: I’ll look at SEVEN weekday bowls that run from Monday through Christmas Eve on Thursday (Miami Beach, Idaho, Boca Raton, Poinsettia, Go Daddy, Bahamas, and Hawaii Bowls)

That takes us up until Christmas…I’ll extend that schedule for you in a few days.

As we get ready for the bowls…I hope you’ll keep joining me for NFL, NBA, and college basketball top plays (college hoops is my favorite sport to bet!). My BEST BETS in all sports can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about long term packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Thursday and Friday, or this weekend before early action starts (basketball on Saturday, NFL on Sunday).

Back with you around lunchtime Friday to look at the rest of this weekend’s NFL. See you then. Thanks for reading!


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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