Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 23, 2011 at 11:56 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. Houston and Indianapolis have already played their Week 16 game.
OAKLAND AT KANSAS CITY: The sharps respect Kyle Orton, and saw the immediate impact he had on Kansas City last week. He’s not a star by any means…but he’s better than what they had! Kansas City opened at -1, but was bet up to -2.5 by smart money. The line didn’t make it all the way to the magic number of three. Oddsmakers know Oakland money would come in pretty heavily at that level. And, even where the line is now…Oakland (+) will be popular in two-team teasers that cross both three and seven when the line is moved six points. The total has come down a point from 43 to 42, possibly because this is a divisional game that’s important to both teams.
DENVER AT BUFFALO: Buffalo’s been playing so badly of late that Denver opened at -3 as a road favorite even though they don’t have much of an offense! Some of this is to defend against public money on Tebow. But…sharps were happy to see the key number and bet Buffalo right away. This may end up being a tug-of-war line where the dog gets the money at +3, but the favorite gets the money at -2.5. The total is down from 42.5 to 41…which may signal weather issues. Last week’s Miami-Buffalo game saw early snow and late rain…but the game went Over anyway.
JACKSONVILLE AT TENNESSEE: Not much interest in this game, where Tennessee opened at -7.5 and stood pat. The Jaguars have been horrible in their last two road games…but do have extra preparation time for a divisional game. Sharps didn’t bite on the dog, and have no interest on a fading favorite at this price. Sharps will be heavily active with Tennessee on two-team teasers if the line stays over a TD like this. The total went up a point from 39 to 40.
ARIZONA AT CINCINNATI: Sharps have liked what they’ve seen from Arizona in recent weeks in terms of competitiveness, and bet the Cardinals here at the opener of +5.5. The line is now +4.5 as we go to press. Cincinnati hasn’t been playing like a team you can trust as a favorite over the last month, though they did grind out a seven-point win at St. Louis last week. The total has budged a bit from an opener of 40, sitting now at 40.5 or 41 depending on the store.
MIAMI AT NEW ENGLAND: Miami bounced back well from their loss to Philadelphia with a win at Buffalo last week. That inspired sharp money on the Dolphins at the opener of +10.5. the line is now down to +9.5, and has settled. That’s actually a BIG deal because it crossed the key number of 10 and stayed there. New England money didn’t come in at -10, or yet at -9.5 even though we’re below the key number. This is strong support for the road dog. Not much happening yet with the total…though Under bettors may step in if they get some help from the weather.
CLEVELAND AT BALTIMORE: A lot of dog money so far from sharps. This isn’t a surprise in general because sharps generally prefer underdogs. But, it’s important to note how rarely they’re waiting for public money to hit the favorites. Sharps thought oddsmakers started out too high…and that was enough to get them involved. Cleveland opened at +13.5. The line is down to +12 or +12.5 in most spots. As we write this, it looks like Colt McCoy will wins the game. Many sharps we’ve talked to prefer Seneca Wallace at quarterback anyway with this group. The total has dropped from 39 to 38.5, but will come down more if weather is an issue.
NY GIANTS VS. NY JETS: Remember that this is a neutral site game…and no home field advantage is given in the Vegas line. So, the Jets are -3 on a neutral field...which means the market now has them as three points better in their Power Ratings. Is that too much? Some sharps have stepped in on the dog…leading to inflated juice for dog bets, and the occasional +2.5 out there. Many sharps stepped in late against the Giants last week in the Redskins game. Nothing about that game changed the anti-Giants mood in their minds. The total is down 1.5 points from an opener of 47 down to 45.5. That could foreshadow weather issues or swirling winds.
MINNESOTA AT WASHINGTON: A rare favorite move, as Washington -5.5 has moved up to -6.5. Minnesota’s stubbornness about sticking with Christian Ponder. Joe Webb did a great job in the second half against Detroit. Minnesota came right back with Ponder last week and he was badly outmatched. It’s odd to see a team like Washington get this much sharp support. That may tell you something right there. The total has moved up from 43.5 to 44.
TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA: Carolina got the early money here at -7, with the line now sitting at -7.5. It takes respected money to move off a critical number. And, there wasn’t any sentiment for Tampa Bay after the move. So…this is a stronger move than half a point would suggest. The sharps think Tampa Bay has thrown in the towel on their season. The total has come down a bit though, from an opener of 49 to either 47.5 or 48. Look for Carolina to be very popular in two-team teasers if the line stays in this range.
ST. LOUIS AT PITTSBURGH: Oddsmakers have been waiting for word on Ben Roethlisberger in this game. There is a big difference between him and Charlie Batch. Though, Roethlisberger’s mobility is so limited right now…maybe not! Pittsburgh will be a very big favorite once a line comes up. Some old school guys may take the big dog because the percentages have favored that approach so strongly over the years.
SAN DIEGO AT DETROIT: Moving to the late games now…Detroit opened -3 here, but the dog got immediate support San Diego is now +2.5 or +2 as we go to press…which means the Chargers will also be a very popular teaser choice in two-teamers. Detroit just hasn’t impressed in recent weeks, and was lucky to steal a victory in Oakland. San Diego has been getting hot. Sharps think the Chargers are the better of the two teams right now given their betting support here. The total has gone up from 50.5 to 52. Generally sharps prefer Unders in the 50’s…so that’s a very strong move. Sharps see Detroit as a shootout-style team right now…and playing indoors sure isn’t going to hurt that.
SAN FRANCISCO AT SEATTLE: You’ll recall that sharps faded San Francisco two weeks ago when the travelled to Arizona. Same story here. The divisional home underdog is getting the money. Seattle opened at +3, but is now down to +2.5. It takes a lot of money to move off the three. Looks like teaser fans will have A LOT of choices this week for their two-teamers. Sportsbooks will be rooting for a decisive 49ers victory. Limited interest in the total, which has dropped from 38 to 37.5. Remember that sharps love teasers even more in games with low totals.
PHILADELPHIA AT DALLAS: Here’s a third straight game where an underdog has moved off an opener of three. Dallas opened laying a field goal in this revenge rivalry spot. Sharps loved what they saw from Philadelphia the last two weeks against Miami and the NY Jets…and brought the line down to +1.5. Once AGAIN we see early dog support creating a very appetizing underdog teaser nominee for basic strategy players. Will sportsbooks move the line down to -1 or pick-em just to defend against the teaser money?
CHICAGO AT GREEN BAY: An opener of Green Bay -13 came down to -12 on news that Caleb Hanie has been benched in favor of Josh McCown. Hanie’s been so bad that any generic substitute is more highly regarded! There’s also a feeling amongst sharps that Green Bay will start resting its starters, making it hard to win by big margins. If the Packers get a decent-sized lead, the guys on the field in the fourth quarter may not be players you can trust with money on the line.
ATLANTA AT NEW ORLEANS: Not much action yet in this week’s Monday Nighter. But, we expect it to be a heavily bet game once Monday arrives. Remember that Sunday is very quiet because of the Christmas holiday. There will be plenty of pent up betting energy for such an important game! The fact that the opener has sat at New Orleans -6.5 tells you that sharps DON’T like the favorite. They would have stepped in below the critical number if that were the case. They will bet the Falcons if the public drives the line up to seven on game day. An opening total of 53 has come down a point to 52 in an important divisional game.
That wraps up this week’s look at what sharps are thinking in the NFL. We hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas Weekend. Back again with you next Friday afternoon for the next “Market Report” of Wise Guy betting in pro football.