Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Tonight’s Chicago/Green Bay game has been getting very heavy betting action from the Wise Guys and the public. Sharps like the dog. Squares like the favorite…and there’s been a tug of war on the Vegas spread as a result. Sharps have generally been winning the battle, with a passion that’s convinced sportsbooks to accept a position on the underdog if the public keeps betting Green Bay. The line we’re seeing as we go to press is either Green Bay by 4.5 or 5…after peaking at six on an earlier look.
We’ll lead off our weekly look at what the sharps are thinking in the NFL with tonight’s nationally televised game on the NFL Network. Games are presented in rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule.
CHICAGO AT GREEN BAY: We’ve already laid this one out for you. The game may flip-flop all afternoon between the 4.5 to 6 range. Sportsbooks will likely have a hard time finding balance in terms of how the money’s falling if the public keeps supporting Green Bay up until kickoff. The best expectation is that sharps and bookmakers will be rooting for the dog, while the public will root for the favorite (fairly standard!) The total has moved from an opener of 50 up to 51.5 or 52. The numbers guys liked the Over given the health of the Chicago offense and the weakness of the Green Bay defense. But, it’s looking like rain during the day at least at the site, which has stopped Over money from coming in. We will see sharp money on the Under if the field gets wet…or if the chance of rain lingers through the evening hours.
TAMPA BAY AT NY GIANTS: Moving to Sunday now, the opener here was Giants by 8.5. Sharps were impressed with Tampa Bay’s intensity last week, and know that New York can be spotty as a home favorite (they’re most dangerous when expectations are low). The line has come down to NYG -7 as a result. That also keeps the game out of the two-team teaser window…as anything from 7.5 to 8.5 would encourage teaser players to move the Giants down past both the 7 and the 3 to the -1.5 to 2.5 range. We’ll only talk about Over/Unders that have seen sharp influences of at least a point. Nothing yet here.
ARIZONA AT NEW ENGLAND: No interest from sharps in this game, with the line staying at New England 13.5 and 48.5 or 49 all week. It’s telling that sharps DIDN’T drive the line to -14. We’ve told you in the past that any widely available line that settles within a half point of a key number is giving away sharp intent. If sharps wanted the favorite here, they would have jumped all over -13.5. They didn’t. That tells you sharps are waiting to see if the public plays the Pats over the weekend so they could come in on the big dog at +14.
MINNESOTA AT INDIANAPOLIS: The line opened pick-em, and moved to Minnesota -1. That’s not much of a move since games can’t end in a tie. We heard that many sharps were disappointed with the Colts last week in terms of overall team quality. Andrew Luck is going to be a star. He’s not surrounded by a lot of talent at the moment, and the defense struggled badly in Chicago. But, even with that, the Vikes only moved a point.
NEW ORLEANS AT CAROLINA: Carolina received support as a home dog here, moving from +3 down to +2.5. Even though it’s only a half-point move, that’s a strong indicator because three is such a common number. Sharps will typically bet any line TOWARD the three just based on historical percentages. Money moving a game off a three is therefore very significant. Note that there was no buyback on the Saints at -2.5. Sharps are anti-Saints after that poor showing last week vs. Washington given all that the franchise has gone through in the offseason.
KANSAS CITY AT BUFFALO: No interest from sharps here that we can decipher from the line or from our discussions with well-placed sources. Both teams struggled last week. An opening line of Buffalo -3 basically says the teams are even and the Bills are getting home field advantage. Sharps would fade any public line move…but this isn’t the kind of game the public usually bets with any passion.
BALTIMORE AT PHILADELPHIA: Big news on both the side and total here, as an opener of 43.5 is up to 46 because Baltimore looked so good in its up-tempo offense last week. If they’re going to strike deep and often, then this will switch from a team that plays defensive struggles to one that plays shootouts. An opener of Philly -3 has come down to -2.5 as well because the Ravens looked so good Monday. Given how badly the Eagles played in Cleveland, we are hearing of sharps taking Baltimore on the moneyline to win outright. As we mentioned in NO/Carolina…the game moved off the three and didn’t go back to the key number. Very important.
OAKLAND AT MIAMI: Here we have another move off a key number, as Oakland opened at -3 but was bet down to -2.5. It’s not that sharps love Miami…who looked bad in Houston last week. But, the Raiders were very much out of synch Monday Night vs. San Diego, and are now flying cross country in a short week. Sharps felt the Raiders were getting too much respect in the line. Nobody of merit has stepped in on the Raiders at -2.5 after the drop. The opening total of 39.5 is down to 38.5 or 38 because both offenses look to be in trouble to start the season.
CLEVELAND AT CINCINNATI: The only interest here has been on the total, as an opener of 40 is down to 38 or 38.5. That may foreshadow weather issues. But, it’s mostly because Cleveland’s offense was so inept last week that you can’t bet Overs in their games! The Browns didn’t score an offensive TD, but did play valiant defense. Same story as last year. Sharps, particularly the stat guys, hit the Under strong when it went up at 40. The Bengals opened at -7 on the team side line and stayed there. Sharps would fade any public move off the key number.
HOUSTON AT JACKSONVILLE: Here we have a move on a home dog toward a critical number. Houston opened -7.5 and fell to -7 even though they posted a big win vs. Miami. Jacksonville is a divisional home underdog that tends to get up for rivals. Sharps expect a competitive game.
DALLAS AT SEATTLE: This may end up being a heavily bet game, but it’s not one showing sharp tendencies yet. Dallas is -3 on the road after impressing in New York and having extra time to get ready. Sharps absolutely LOVED Seattle last week in Arizona, but have rethought that passion given the disappointing Seahawks performance. The public will likely bet Dallas on game day. Sharps would come in on the home dog at +3.5. We may just see oddsmakers adjust the vigorish because they don’t want to risk getting sided in a game that will draw public action on game day.
WASHINGTON AT ST. LOUIS: Interest here has been on the total as an opener of 44 is up to 45.5. That’s based on Washington’s strong offensive showing in a dome last week. They’re playing indoors again this week…which should allow RGIII to take advantage of his legs and his arm. The team side line hasn’t moved off Washington -3 because sharps aren’t ready yet to lay points with a rookie on the road. They would bet the dog at +3.5 if the public were to start a Redskins bandwagon. A lot of games on the three this week.
NY JETS AT PITTSBURGH: Pittsburgh opened at -6 in the marquee matchup amongst the late games. Sharps hit the dog at that line, dropping the line to Jets +5.5. We’re hearing that sharps weren’t impressed with Pittsburgh Sunday Night in Denver…and like the chances of New York to make this a competitive game. The total hasn’t moved much yet. But, it will drop if weather becomes a factor, particularly because there’s a college game on this field Saturday.
TENNESSEE AT SAN DIEGO: San Diego fell a point from -7 down to -6 off their Monday night game. Even though they won, they didn’t look very good. Sharps couldn’t accept them as a full TD favorite given their form last year and vs. Oakland. This is a big move off a key number, even if it’s only a point…particularly since sharps could have waited to see if the public bet the Chargers. Sharps didn’t want to wait. The total has dropped from 44 to 43.
DETROIT AT SAN FRANCISCO: This line has frozen at San Francisco by 6.5 with a total of 46. What’s that tell you? If the sharps liked the favorite, they would have hit that -6.5 immediately. They didn’t, which means they want the dog and are hoping for a +7 in a Sunday Night TV game that the public has all day to bet. We’re hearing from sources that sharps would come in very strong if they saw that seven, and may still get involved with authority on game day if +6.5 is the best they’re going to get.
DENVER AT ATLANTA: Sharps were impressed with Peyton Manning last week. Denver opened here at +3.5 but has been bet down to the key number. That’s something because sharps loved Atlanta last week at Kansas City and won with them. The Falcons are a team that sharps are currently high on…but you can now say that about BOTH of these teams. The total in this Monday Night finale has moved up two points from an opener of 49 to 51. Good quarterbacks playing indoors will draw attention from sharps, particularly given the high scoring league tendencies last week and during the prime parts of the Preseason.
That wraps up today’s look at the NFL markets. Look for this feature EVERY Thursday through the course of the NFL season. And, remember that the best way to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp is to visit VegasSportsMasters every day! The sharpest minds in the handicapping industry have big plans for this weekend in college football, pro football, and in the MLB pennant races. Be sure you check out the display ads on the home page, and the expanded service details on the “buy picks” page for big play bulletins.