Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Friday, January 4, 2019 at 4:00 PM
It was nice to have a few days off from last weekend’s football barrage to get ready for this week’s Wildcard action. We have four very interesting games that should set the tone for a fascinating playoffs. I’ve talked to a few sports books operators who were surprised at all the early betting interest in these games. Neither the sharps nor the public waited until the weekend to dive in.
I’ll run through the games in schedule order. Here’s how sharps have been betting this weekend’s NFL action…
SATURDAY, INDIANAPOLIS AT HOUSTON: An opener of Houston -2 was bet down to -1.5 or -1. This is hugely important, of course, because it moves away from the key number of three. If sharps liked Houston, they would have jumped in early before the public could lay the points. Instead, the Wise Guys DIDN’T wait, and happily took the two. This tells you many believe Indianapolis will win the game outright. You’ve probably noticed this game is near the teaser window that sharps like to use. If they believe the Colts will win the game, getting Indy at +7.5 or +8 in teasers would thrill sharps. That’s why many shops have dropped down to one. They don’t want to be vulnerable to teasers that cross both the 3 and the 7.
The Over/Under is up from 47 to 48.5. That’s a bigger move than it seems because both 47 and 48 are common scoreboard totals. The “key” numbers on Over/Unders aren’t as important as the 3 and 7 in football. But, they do matter. Quants in particular see a possible shootout brewing thanks to the arm of Andrew Luck. All told, sharps like Indy at +2, and Over 48 or better.
SATURDAY, SEATTLE AT DALLAS: Similar situation here with a game opening below the key number and not moving toward it. Sharps really respect the first three dogs on the schedule. The public hasn’t yet shown an inkling to jump in on the home favorites. Most shops opened at -2.5 or -2, and we’re close to being painted on the two as I prepare this report. Seattle obviously goes in the teaser group as well at +7.5, +8, or +8.5. Sports books will be trying to defend against a slew of Indy/Seattle teasers. And the Chargers are about to join in that mix.
The Over/Under has been bet up from 41.5 to 43. It stopped hard at 43. Looks like some quants were getting gradings of 43 and bet anything below that. Old school guys like defenses in the playoffs…which will probably put them on Under 43 if this is the apex. They’re waiting to see if the public bets the Over on game day (squares have an affection for “Favorites and Over”).
SUNDAY, LA CHARGERS AT BALTIMORE: All week this has been a HARD tug-of-war between Baltimore -2.5 and the Chargers +3. I mean…people LOVE those teams at those prices. Looks like competing sharp syndicates with different reads. But, the public is split too…partly because Los Angeles is so close to Las Vegas. This is a dog that “locals” will bet in the playoffs. I expect to see this all weekend unless some important news breaks for either team. Sports books will hope the game doesn’t land exactly on Ravens -3 (that would mean all the Chargers money pushes, but the Ravens money wins). Chargers +8.5 will show up in a lot of six-point teasers.
The Over/Under has been pretty solid at 41.5, though some stores are testing 42. That suggests the weather is going to be okay in Baltimore Sunday. A lot of totals experts wait to lock in the weather forecast in parts of the country where it’s likely to matter in January. Saturday’s Texas games won’t be affected.
SUNDAY, PHILADELPHIA AT CHICAGO: Some interesting news here late in the week. We’re starting to see more and more Chicago money hit the board as tourists arrive in Las Vegas. An opener of Chicago -4.5 or -5 was bet up to -5.5, and then -6. Much of the week showed a tug-of-war between Chicago -5.5 and Philadelphia +6. But, as I write this late Friday morning Las Vegas time, some stores are testing -6.5. There’s no way sharps would have waited that long to jump in…so we have to assume it’s mostly public money. Sharps will take some of the Eagles at +6.5…and hope for the key number of seven to come up through the weekend. You knew squares want to bet a favorite big this weekend…the Bears are the only obvious NFL choice given the quality of road dogs in the other three games.
The Over/Under has been sitting on 41 all week. Weird to see such low totals compared to most of the season. Good defenses have earned their way into the playoffs. Get ready for some smash mouth football!
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I’ll have a special report Monday to talk about sharp betting in the Alabama/Clemson game. That line continues to drop as we speak. Sharps loved Clemson at the early lines of +7, +6.5, and +6. Now we’re seeing -5 and -5.5. The Westgate just went to -4.5, but I’m not sure how long that will last. What will it take to get the public involved? If squares win big with the Bears late Sunday, it will be easier for them to come back on another favorite the next night.
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!