Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Friday, December 21, 2018 at 4:00 PM
Two Saturday games once again this week. If you received a schedule printed early, be aware that Washington/Tennessee and Baltimore/LA Chargers are no longer on Sunday! Both Saturday games have playoff implications. Though, bettors don’t seem to think the Redskins have much of a chance to reach the postseason.
Let’s get to it. Here’s how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting this week’s NFL action. Sunday’s games are presented in rotation order.
WASHINGTON AT TENNESSEE: An opener of Tennessee -10.5 was bet down to the key number of 10, where it’s been painted ever since. That was mostly a value bet, figuring that a visitor with a decent defense that had “need” had a chance to hang around…particularly in a low-totaled game (37) where points could be scarce. Dog money stopped at the 10 though, rather than cause any moves to 9.5 or below. The public wants to bet this game because it’s all by itself on a Saturday afternoon. Squares may not want to lay double digits with this favorite. I wouldn’t be shocked if we dropped further on game day.
BALTIMORE AT THE LA CHARGERS: We’ve either been at Chargers -4.5 or -4 all week. Those aren’t key numbers. But, they do seem to sway action. Dog lovers like the defensive-minded Ravens with the hook. The large number of sharps who have been riding the LAC bandwagon will lay the four. Probably a tug-of-war through kickoff. The Over/Under has come down two points from 45 to 43. Doesn’t look like weather will be a factor. It rarely is in San Diego. We have to assume that’s respect for both of these defenses.
TAMPA BAY AT DALLAS: Looks like a tug-of-war brewing between Dallas -7 and Tampa Bay +7.5. The Cowboys have been playing well at home, and are in a bounce-back spot off the loss at Indianapolis. Tampa Bay won’t reach the playoffs, but can hang with people. Plus, there’s always a chance for a backdoor cover with a team like the Bucs. Squares will lay the touchdown, sharps will take the dog with the hook. The total is up two points from 46 to 48, which is a bit of a surprise given how well the Dallas defense has been playing.
BUFFALO AT NEW ENGLAND: This one’s been all over the place in recent hours. I’m seeing anywhere from Patriots -12.5 to Patriots -13.5. Not sure where the tug-of-war will settle. Sharps have been impressed with Josh Allen in terms of keeping his team competitive. Though, the Bills didn’t cover as favorites vs. the Lions or Jets. They can hang with the slumping version of New England we’ve been seeing lately. The public is expecting a Patriots bounce back off losses at Miami and Pittsburgh, and knows Tom Brady has been playing better at home.
ATLANTA AT CAROLINA: This line flipped about six points when it was announced that Cam Newton wouldn’t play for the Panthers. Atlanta is currently a 3-point favorite. Sharps would fade any move off the three, unless there are weekend indications that Carolina is just going to mail in its last two games.
JACKSONVILLE AT MIAMI: An opener of Miami -5 has been bet down to -4 or -3.5 depending on where you shop. This is another defensive dog getting respect in a game that shouldn’t be a shootout. Sharps preferring this dog know the public isn’t likely to bet the game, so they jumped on Jacksonville at +5 and +4.5. Some money continued at +4. I would be surprised if we fell to Miami -3, that would bring in a bunch of favorite money.
NY GIANTS AT INDIANAPOLIS: The Colts opened at -9. That’s been bet up to -9.5, with even a -10 popping up as I was preparing this report. Looks like Odell Beckham won’t be playing this week. It’s a must-win game for the Colts in the crowded AFC playoff picture. The Giants are just playing out the string, and didn’t show much fight in a shutout home loss to Tennessee last week. Sharps may take the Giants +10 if it becomes widely available, particularly the old-school guys who want every double digit dog on principle.
HOUSTON AT PHILADELPHIA: Nick Foles is finally getting respect from sharps! Took long enough. The opener of Houston -1.5 has flipped to Philadelphia -1.5 or -2. Houston will be a popular bet in two-team teasers because a six-point line move would cross both the 3 and the 7 (sharps would use Houston +7.5, +8, or +8.5 in teasers). So, we have a situation where sharps are betting the Eagles at -1.5 or less, but will happily take more than a TD with the visitor in teasers.
MINNESOTA AT DETROIT: Minnesota has been bet up from -5 to -6 in this must-win spot. The Lions haven’t been showing much firepower lately, and have a lot of offensive injuries to deal with. If you assume that the shorthanded Lions (with few real receivers) won’t be able to score on this stout Vikings defense, then five or six isn’t that tall a spread.
GREEN BAY AT THE NY JETS: Took awhile for the quarterback picture to clear up for Green Bay. When Aaron Rodgers announced he would play, the line settled in at Packers -3. The Jets have been playing well enough lately that they should draw home dog support from sharps. That might set up a tug-of-war between GB -2.5 and the Jets +3. It’s a meaningless game in terms of the playoffs, which makes it less likely that the public will pound Rodgers and the Packers.
CINCINNATI AT CLEVELAND: Very interesting situation here. The Browns opened at -7. Some deep-pocketed bettors hit Cleveland so hard that the stores involved have tested -9.5 or -10. Stores NOT getting that money are still at -8.5. Cincinnati just beat Oakland and covered in Los Angeles against the Chargers, so they do draw interest at +10 (or +9) from people who aren’t these deep pocketed bettors. I’m very interested to see how this plays out between now and kickoff. Is the general public ready to lay such a high price with Cleveland?
LA RAMS AT ARIZONA: Money has been coming in late in the week on the Rams. They opened at -14 on the road. Looks like the same bettors who have been pounding them all season hit the market Friday. I’m now seeing -15 and even -16 being tested at some spots. The Rams are 2-8-1 ATS their last 11 games because the lines are getting bet too far in the wrong direction! Vegas sports books have been grateful thus far. Books made a fortune with the Eagles last Sunday night. Old school dog bettors will wait to see what they can get, though +16 might be the ceiling.
CHICAGO AT SAN FRANCISCO: An opener of Chicago -5 has been bet down to -4. The Niners have been playing much better at home than on the road, and just scored an upset over Seattle last week. The Bears have been shakier on the road than at home, though Chase Daniel playing QB was part of that. Sharps liked the home dog at +5 and +4.5, but the money stopped on four. I wouldn’t be shocked if the public took the Bears on game day. Only three late kickoffs Sunday, and the squares have to bet something!
PITTSBURGH AT NEW ORLEANS: This is the marquee matchup in the late TV window. An opener of Saints -5.5 has been bet up to -6. Though, Pittsburgh money does come in on the six. That probably signals a tug-of-war in a high handle game. It’s possible New Orleans will see so much square support that the tug-of-war ends up higher…meaning Saints -6 and Steelers +6.5. There’s a decent-sized sharp contingent that’s looking to take this road dog at +6 or better. We’ll see how the public bets Sunday.
KANSAS CITY AT SEATTLE: Could be a great Sunday nighter, with Seattle playing well again on its home field. This will be the toughest test yet for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Sure, the road games at New England and the LA Rams were tough. But, those teams don’t have defenses like Seattle’s, and the stadium noise isn’t nearly as intimidating. We’ve been painted Chiefs -2.5 all week. Sharps will be very happy to take Seattle +8.5 in two-team teasers. This will be a heavily bet game for sure given the teams involved in prime time. I honestly can’t tell you yet if the public is going to prefer this home dog (which could bring the line down to KC -1 or pick-em), or if they’ll find a possible Super Bowl team irresistible at -2.5. Might depend on game night weather. Very tough to ask a visiting quarterback to play well vs. this defense in a drizzle.
DENVER AT OAKLAND: Too bad this has to be the Monday night game this week. Though, it is a blood rivalry, which might set up a fun attraction anyway. Denver has been painted -3 most of the week. The total has dropped from 45 to 43 because Denver’s offense has been shaky of late, and there’s a chance for rain. I believe sharps would fade any public move off the three at this point.
I have a lot planned this weekend in both football and basketball. You can purchase my daily 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.
Thanks for reading. I’ll return on Wednesday (the day after Christmas) with another batch of bowl games to discuss. You already know that sharps are mostly passing the Christmas Eve game so far (Broncos/Raiders), and there’s no holiday football Tuesday. Wednesday through Saturday features 14 bowls, including the two national semifinal matchups (Clemson/Notre Dame and Alabama/Oklahoma). I’ll see you Wednesday afternoon to talk about those. Merry Christmas!