Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Friday, December 7, 2018 at 4:00 PM
A lot of buzz here in Las Vegas about this particular NFL weekend. Some great matchups that will have playoff implications. I expect to see the most heavily bet NFL game of the season, in what might be the most active regular season pro football weekend of 2018.
Games are presented in Nevada rotation order. Two kickoff times have been changed for television.
BALTIMORE AT KANSAS CITY: An opener of Kansas City -7.5 has come down through the key number of seven to Baltimore +6.5. That’s a huge move because it broke through the seven and wasn’t bought back up. This shows great respect for the Ravens defense, and a recognition that Kansas City may have lost a step with its off-field drama. Sharps (pro bettors) absolutely LOVE the “defensive dog” Ravens at +7 or better. If the public takes this favorite on a strong home field, we’ll see a tug-of-war between KC -6.5 and Baltimore +7.
INDIANAPOLIS AT HOUSTON: The Colts looked awful last week at Jacksonville, slowing down all the talk about Andrew Luck leading them to the playoffs. Houston opened at -5.5, and was bet down to -4.5. because Luck is due to bounce back after a shutout. At least enough to have a chance to keep the game close. We’re in the dead zone here between key numbers, so a one-point move isn’t as big as in the game above.
CAROLINA AT CLEVELAND: An opener of Carolina -1 nudged up a bit to -1.5 or -2. Sharps have lost money on both of these teams recently. Carolina needs to end a losing streak to have any chance to make the playoffs. Cleveland is feisty at home. It’s telling about how much sharps have soured on Carolina that money stops at -2. If this was really a “playoff caliber” team in a “must-win” game, the line would have opened at Panthers -3, or been bet there in short order.
ATLANTA AT GREEN BAY: There was a time earlier this season when this would have felt like a playoff preview. Two huge disappointments. Green Bay just fired its head coach. Atlanta players are performing like they want their head coach fired too. Green Bay opened at -4, and was bet up to -5 or -5.5. depending on where you shop. Some sharps believe Aaron Rodgers and his offense will rebound without the old head coach weighing things down.
NEW ORLEANS AT TAMPA BAY: An opener of New Orleans -8 was bet up to -9.5 and even -10. Sharp money will hit the board more aggressively on the home underdog if the 10 sticks for awhile. Tampa Bay won the first meeting, and has a chance to cover the game in a tight divisional battle, or in garbage time after falling from behind. Quants that got gradings to the favorite jumped in before public money hit. Most everyone else is waiting for the dog at +10.
NY JETS AT BUFFALO: Scott Darnold will be back for the Jets after missing time with an injury. The market isn’t impressed. Buffalo opened at -3.5, and is still mostly sitting there. The Jets do get the bulk of light early action at +3.5 straight. So, most stores charge extra vigorish to take the Jets (-120 rather than -110). Some stores are testing Buffalo -3 (-120) to see if that brings in more Bills interest. The best guess is a tug-of-war between Buffalo -3 and NYJ +3.5. This will be a heavily bet game up north over the weekend because it’s a hyped battle of rookie quarterbacks.
NEW ENGLAND AT MIAMI: New England opened at -9. But, some disappointing road performances encouraged a drop down to -7.5. It’s assumed public money would come in hard on the Patriots at the key number of -7. So, we’ll probably stick here for awhile longer. Sports books hate that this opens the door to a ton of teasers featuring New England -1.5 (you move the line six points on teaser, but have to sweep all of your choices). Sharps like the divisional home underdog at +8 or higher…but will love the Patriots in teasers at -1.5, -2, or -2.5.
LA RAMS AT CHICAGO: This one has been time-changed to prime time for NBC. And, this is the game I was referring to as the most heavily bet of the year. Vegas is getting flooded with Rams money every week because LA is so close by. Whenever an LA team is any good (in any sport), everyone wants to bet them! But, Chicago has a huge following too, particularly here in Vegas. The point spread of Rams -3 feels right to both sides. Rams bettors think it’s cheap. Bears backers are happy to get a field goal with a home dog in cold weather. Huge handle. I think we’ll stay at Rams -3 until kickoff unless some very deep-pocketed celebrities hit the Rams hard….or the general public comes in heavy on the home dog because of weather. Sharps would fade any move off the three in my opinion.
NY GIANTS AT WASHINGTON: The last of the early kickoffs. This number is all the way up to Giants -3.5 against desperation quarterback Mark Sanchez. Early openers were around pick-em…but that was before Colt McCoy suffered a leg fracture in the Monday night game. Washington with Sanchez is being priced as an expansion-level team. I don’t expect anyone to bet them unless we move well higher. I’m interested to see if the public jumps on the Giants to lift the game to -4 or -5.
DENVER AT SAN FRANCISCO: An opener of Denver -4.5 has been bet down to -3.5. As well as the Broncos have been playing lately, it’s hard to expect them to win on command every week. San Francisco is more competitive at home than on the road since their quarterback change. Sharps and squares (the public) would hit the Broncos if -3 comes into play. I don’t expect it to.
CINCINNATI AT THE LA CHARGERS: An opener of Chargers -14.5 is down a tick to -14. More of a value bet to the key number than anything else. Sharps are very impressed with this team in recent weeks. But, it’s hard to perform at a peak level many weeks in a row. This is a situational letdown spot off the come-from-behind win at Pittsburgh last Sunday night. And, division leading Kansas City is up next Thursday night. I don’t think this will be a heavily bet game. If the public hits the Chargers Sunday, we should see a tug-of-war between LAC -14 and Cincinnati +14.5. Remember that Jeff Driskel is the quarterback for the Bengals after the injury to Andy Dalton.
DETROIT AT ARIZONA: Detroit was driven from an opener of -1.5 up to the key number of -3. Home dog money does come in at the field goal. Some stores are testing a drop back to 2.5. That likely signals a tug-of-war on Sunday between Detroit -2.5 and Arizona +3. Not a game many will watch on TV. But, it might be more heavily bet than you’d expect because it’s a late kick dancing around a key number. Squares want to fade Arizona.
PHILADELPHIA AT DALLAS: Dallas opened at -4, and has come down a tick to -3.5. I would be very surprised if it fell to the key number of three. Dallas has been playing very well lately, particularly in that upset of the Saints (at least on defense). The Eagles haven’t looked good in a while, only winning easily Monday because of the injury to Colt McCoy. Old school guys want the rivalry underdog. I think the public will find its way onto the Cowboys before kickoff.
PITTSBURGH AT OAKLAND: This is now a late-afternoon kickoff, getting pulled out of the prime time spot because the Raiders are so bad. A great history between these franchises. Pittsburgh opened as high as -13, but is down to -10 because of shaky performances in recent weeks. You probably watched the collapse at home against the Chargers last week. That was after a road loss at Denver, and a fortunate rally to beat lousy Jacksonville. The Raiders are so bad they’re still getting +10 from a slumping road favorite! We may still see some more old-school money on this home dog come game day. We’ll see if the public gets involved.
MINNESOTA AT SEATTLE: These are the two current wildcard teams in the NFC. Though, a lot can change in the last month of a season. Could turn out that neither one makes the playoffs. Probably a tug-of-war between Seattle -3 and Minnesota +3.5. This is considered a strong home field. But, sharps haven’t been afraid to bet quality road dogs here the past couple of seasons. Great to have important Monday Nighter to close out the week.
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Back again next Thursday to talk about what is now a HUGE game between the Chargers and the Chiefs and the early college football bowl slate. Then, Friday will feature our regular look at Sunday and Monday NFL. Big month for sports bettors! Thanks for reading.