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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, January 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM

We’ve reached the final week of the NFL season. Many of the games Sunday are meaningless in terms of the standings. That tends to limit the amount of betting interest in those matchups. Plus oddsmakers are quick to slow down any aggression shown by sharps in those games out of fear for “inside” information about disinterested player efforts. I won’t spend much time on those, generally speaking.

As always, matchups are listed in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules…

NY JETS AT BUFFALO: Very important game to the Jets, who will clinch a playoff berth with a victory. An opener of pick-em has been bet up to -2.5 because of some early sharp action and then public betting on the Jets’ “need.” Some stores are testing the key number of three…but sharps will come in on the dog at that price because it’s a divisional rivalry. The Jets have also been shaky in some recent road games. So…sharps like the Jets at pick-em, -1, and a bit at -2…though Buffalo at +3 would become a popular sharp play. The Over/Under is down from 44 to 42 on a forecast for cold temperatures in the low 30’s and a stiff breeze. A mix of quant and weather bettors there.

TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA: Carolina clinches the #1 seed in the NFC with a victory. That generated a tall opener of Panthers -11. Nobody wanted to lay that much chalk. Old school dog guys have invested in Tampa Bay…so we’re seeing +10.5 painted at the moment. The total is down a point from 47 to 46. I’ll only mention Over/Unders that have moved at least a point.  

NEW ENGLAND AT MIAMI: Similar story here in that a power will clinch a #1 seed with a victory…and that favorite opened as a double digit favorite. Wait…one more…AND that opening line has dropped a half a point from old school sharps! Here it was an opener of New England -10 that’s now down to -9.5 (though some stores are still on the ten). We’ll have to see if the public jumps on all the “must win” teams before kickoff. Squares have been busy with the bowls here late in the week. Look for sharps to fade public moves on those must-win teams from the prices you see in this report.

BALTIMORE AT CINCINNATI: Cincinnati is in the battle for a #2 seed amongst the trio at the top with New England and Denver. An opening line of Cincinnati -9.5 didn’t go up from “need,” but didn’t go down from the old school guys either. The Wise Guys don’t want to ask Baltimore to play great two weeks in a row against divisional rivals. Nobody yet wants to ask A.J. McCarron to cover a double digit spread. Might be a lightly bet game in this price range.  

NEW ORLEANS AT ATLANTA: Meaningless game. The line is up from Atlanta -3.5 to Atlanta -5.5 on reports that Drew Brees has been very limited in practice this week. There are some thoughts that he may sit out the finale, though he’s been vocal about wanting to play. A two-point move generated by sharps is usually worth respecting. The total is up from 52 to 53.

JACKSONVILLE AT HOUSTON: Houston can officially wrap up the AFC South with a victory…though they would still probably win even if they got upset. An opener of Houston -6 is up to -6.5. Sharps would seriously consider the divisional road dog at +7.  

PITTSBURGH AT CLEVELAND: Pittsburgh has to win this game, and hope the NY Jets lose to Buffalo, to make the playoffs. Johnny Manziel has been ruled out for Cleveland because of a concussion. No line move yet from the opener of Pittsburgh -10.5. The total is down a tick from 47.5 to 47 because of a forecast for poor weather. If those conditions lock in, that Over/Under will probably fall some more before kickoff.

OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY: Kansas City can still win the AFC West if they beat Oakland and Denver loses at home to San Diego. That scenario isn’t influencing the market at all here. The Chiefs opened at the key number of -7 and are still there. The total has been bet down from 45 to 43.5 by quants, who have noted the yard-gaining struggles of the KC offense in recent weeks.

TENNESSEE AT INDIANAPOLIS: No line yet pending the quarterback situation for Indianapolis. As I typically say with the Colts in recent weeks…sharps have a number in mind and will “correct” the oddsmakers opener if needed.  

WASHINGTON AT DALLAS: Nothing at stake for the visitor…who must get ready for a home playoff game next week. The line has settled in at Dallas -4 after some early movement. This won’t be a heavily bet game by the public…and sharps will only pay casual attention from this point forward unless there’s an important personnel development. The total is down from 40 to 39.  

DETROIT AT CHICAGO: An opener of Chicago -1.5 is down to pick-em, as Detroit continues to get late season support from the Wise Guys. Make a note to remember that next season. Some people who matter are high on this team’s talent. The total is down from 46.5 to 45.5 because temperatures will be in the high 20’s and windy conditions are expected.  

PHILADELPHIA AT NY GIANTS: Some interest on the Giants at the opening number of -3. Chip Kelly’s firing may have something to do with that. For now a tug-of-war on NYG -3 and Philadelphia +3.5…but the stronger tugs are on the G-men at the key number. The total is down from 52 to 51 with some wind in the forecast at this tricky stadium.  

MINNESOTA AT GREEN BAY: This one has been time changed to prime time for NBC because the NFC North title is at stake. The winner of this game wins the division, and hosts a playoff game next week. The loser makes the playoffs as a Wildcard and must play on the road next week. For now, a tug-of-war shaping up between Green Bay -3 and Minnesota +3.5. The public is more likely to bet the Packers in that line battle…though they likely haven’t forgotten how bad Green Bay looked last week in Arizona. The total is WAY down from 48.5 to 45.5. The quants were in heavy because Green Bay’s offense has horrible yardage numbers the past several weeks. Weather is also an influence with game time temperatures in the low 20’s. A lot of the old school guys like betting Unders in “playoff-type” games too. Frankly, a bad opening total!

SAN DIEGO AT DENVER: Denver is up from -8.5 to -9.5 after closing so well vs. Cincinnati this past Monday night. Some stores are testing -10. It remains to be seen if there’s a lot of buyback on the Chargers. Sure, it’s a divisional rivalry. But, San Diego knows that this may be their last game as “the San Diego Chargers,” plus they just lost a heartbreaker to the Raiders. We’ll have to see if sharps are tempted by +10, of it’s going to take +10.5.  

ST. LOUIS AT SAN FRANCISCO: This will be a lightly bet game. The opener of St. Louis -3 is still up most everywhere, though some stores are testing the 3.5. The Rams did get a great result in Seattle last week. Can they play well on the road two weeks in a row? As I write this there’s a chance of rain.  

SEATTLE AT ARIZONA: Arizona is up from -4 to -6 because they still have a chance to chase down the #1 seed in the NFC, while Seattle is locked in as a Wildcard. Plus, last week’s extreme results for these two may have led to some early position-taking in advanced of expected public support for the Cardinals. The total is down from 48 to 47.

I have my eye on a few spots on the final card of the regular season. You can purchase my BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 before the early games kick off Saturday or Sunday.

I hope you had a great New Year’s celebration. I’ll see you again on Tuesday to look at NFL Super Bowl Futures at the close of the regular season. Then, on Friday, we’ll review sharp betting in the four games scheduled for Wildcard Weekend. Thanks for reading!

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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