Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 30, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Time once again for another look at what sharps (professional wagerers) in Las Vegas are thinking about this weekend’s NFL games based on the market moves. We’ll take the games in rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule. All 32 teams are scheduled for Sunday action this week.
WASHINGTON AT PHILADELPHIA: Not much interest in this meaningless game. Philadelphia opened at -9. Most stores are still there, though some have moved down to Philadelphia -8.5. That puts the game in the two-team teaser window…and some locales may prefer not to have a lot of basic strategy money coming in on the Eagles -2.5. The total hasn’t budged yet off an opener of 46.
TAMPA BAY AT ATLANTA: Atlanta has been getting support at the opener of -10.5. The line is up to -11.5 now in many spots, and we’ve even seen a -12. Tampa Bay has played like they’ve given up on their head coach. Atlanta’s been moving the ball well vs. bad teams. Sharps generally prefer double digit dogs…so it’s telling that a double digit favorite got immediate support. The total has come down from an opener of 47 to 46.5 or 46.
SAN FRANCISCO AT ST. LOUIS: Not much happening here. San Francisco opened at -10.5, and has stayed there. So…we didn’t see early money on the favorite like we did just above…but there also wasn’t any dog interest either even though the game was a half point above a key number. A collective yawn from the Wise Guys! The total has dropped from 36 to 35.5 in many spots. Weather won’t be a factor indoors, so that looks to be a math play on the Under.
CHICAGO AT MINNESOTA: We’ve flopped favorites, as Minnesota has moved from +1 to -1 in this meaningless game. The total is up from 39 to 41 in a garbage time game that will have QB’s trying to impress for next year on the field in the second half.
DETROIT AT GREEN BAY: Huge move here on the assumption that Green Bay will be resting a lot of starters. Detroit opened at +3.5, but is now -3.5. That’s a seven point move across two critical numbers! The Packers have nothing to play for, having already clinched the number one seed and home field throughout the NFC brackets. Detroit will be one of the Wildcard teams.
DALLAS AT NY GIANTS: This game has been moved to prime time for NBC’s flex schedule. But, we’re taking the games in rotation order…and this was originally scheduled for an early start. You can be assured this will be a heavily bet game from the public on Sunday. Sharps haven’t shown a preference yet, with the opener of Giants -3 standing pat. The totals guys did bet Under 48 and Under 47, with the total currently sitting at 46. That may be due to weather possibilities…but the playoff feel for this game and Tony Romo’s injured hand are just as likely to be factors.
CAROLINA AT NEW ORLEANS: Carolina got early dog support at +9, probably on the assumption New Orleans will be a bit flat on a short week after celebrating Drew Brees’ record breaking performance on Monday Night. Plus, Cam Newton always gives you back door possibilities if Carolina falls behind. We’re currently seeing New Orleans at -7.5 or -8…which puts the Saints in the teaser window. That’s the last thing sportsbooks want to see…the whole world taking the Saints at -1.5 or -2. New Orleans may rest starters late though if San Francisco has locked up a win over St. Louis. New Orleans can only snare a #2 seed if the 49ers are upset by the Rams.
TENNESSEE AT HOUSTON: Tennessee has been bet up from an opener of -1.5 to -3 in most places. The Titans have a mathematical shot at a Wildcard, so they have clear motivation to try and win the game. Houston is going to be hosting a Wildcard opponent in the first week of playoff action, unless both Baltimore and Pittsburgh get upset Sunday. That would move Houston into a bye position. The market seems to think that’s a longshot. Not much happening on the total, which sits at 40.5 as we go to press.
BALTIMORE AT CINCINNATI: Sharps have hit home underdog Cincinnati in a game that’s important to both teams. Baltimore opened at -3..but the line is down to -2 or -2.5 in most places. We’ve told you in the past it takes a lot of money to move an NFL game off the number three. Cincinnati will be a popular choice in two-team teasers if the line stays where it is. The total is down a half a point from 39 to 38.5 because of a playoff atmosphere, and possibly because of weather issues. Note that Cincinnati clinches a Wildcard spot with a win…while Baltimore clinches a first round bye with a victory. This game has been time-changed to a late afternoon star rather than an early kick.
PITTSBURGH AT CLEVELAND: Once again this week, the status of Ben Roethlisberger has kept this game off the board through most of the week. Pittsburgh can earn a bye if they win and Baltimore loses. If Baltimore wins, Pittsburgh will play a Wildcard game next week on the road against the AFC West winner.
INDIANAPOLIS AT JACKSONVILLE: Jacksonville opened at -5, but the line has moved down to -4 and even -3.5 on reports that the Colts are going to try to win rather than worry about the #1 draft pick. Has Indy decided that either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III will be fine in the draft? Do they know RG3 will come out for sure? No movement on the total, which opened at a low 37.
NY JETS AT MIAMI: Miami opened at -2 and stayed there, even though the Jets are in a must-win situation. New York must win this game, then hope Baltimore beats Cincinnati, if the Jets are going to earn another Wildcard spot. Sharps have been impressed with Miami during the second half of the season. The total is down a half a point from 41.5 to 41.
BUFFALO AT NEW ENGLAND: A win for New England will lock up the #1 seed. But, they don’t need to win by a million. An opener of -13 has fallen all the way to -10.5 or -11. Buffalo played well last week against Denver, while New England struggled to find its form at home against Miami. Don’t forget that Buffalo won the first meeting back in September. The total has dropped from 51.5 down to 50.5.
SAN DIEGO AT OAKLAND: The interest in this game has been on the total, as an opener of 49 is down to 47. Oakland opened at -3 and has stood pat. Oakland can win the AFC West if they win this game and Kansas City upsets Denver in a matchup that will be played simultaneously.
KANSAS CITY AT DENVER: Denver opened at -3, but moved to -3.5. Some of that may have been position-taking from sharps who were anticipating that public money would come in strong on Tim Tebow in a must-win situation. Others may have believed that Kansas City would be drained after two very physical games against Green Bay and Oakland. The total is up a tick from 36.5 to 37, as the presence of Kyle Orton continues to inspire Over money in Chiefs games.
SEATTLE AT ARIZONA: The final game on the card is a lame duck. Arizona opened at -3. Some interest in the dog has driven the line down to Arizona -2.5 in places. Nothing yet on the total in a game that will only get interest from gamblers wanting a little extra action in the late starts.
That wraps up this week’s look at what sharps are thinking in the NFL this week. We hope everyone has safe and fun New Year weekend. Back again with you next Friday afternoon for a look at how the Wise Guys are betting the first week of NFL playoff action.