Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 12:24 PM
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. Cleveland and Pittsburgh have already played their Week 14 game.
INDIANAPOLIS AT BALTIMORE: An opener of Baltimore -16 moved up to -16.5. That may have surprised some, who saw Indianapolis come easily through the backdoor last week to cover against New England. The difference here is that Baltimore plays defense for all four quarters! Some of this was position-taking on the thought that the public might drive the line to -17. We’d exect to see big dog money come in on the Colts at that price.
HOUSTON AT CINCINNATI: Houston impressed the market with their win over Atlanta last week. So, they’re being treated as equals with Cincinnati at a line of Bengals -3 over T.J. Yates. Not much interest yet in this game. Sharps don’t really trust Yates on the road…but they don’t want to buck this strong Texans defense and running game either. Sharps would come in against a public move in either direction because the pull of that key number three is so strong.
OAKLAND AT GREEN BAY: Support for Oakland at the opener of +12 has brought the line down to +11.5 and even +11 in spots as we go to press. Green Bay’s defense is hard to trust at big numbers at the moment…and Oakland is a division leader. The biggest move here was on the total (one of the biggest moves of the week), as an opener of 55 has come all the way down to 52 and 51.5 because of potential weather influences. Current forecast is for temperatures in the 30’s with a good chance of some wind.
KANSAS CITY AT NY JETS: A bigger move here than it looks, as the Jets opened -9.5 and are now -10.5. Going past a key number like 10 and staying there suggests heavy confidence from sharps. Nobody was buying back the Chiefs at +10.5, at least not yet anyway. Tyler Palko has been completely overmatched at quarterback. Now he has to face the Jets defense in a tough scoring environment for visiting teams. The total is down a tick from 37 to 36.5. We’re starting to see December weather influencing totals betting.
MINNESOTA AT DETROIT: It took awhile for this one to come up on the board because of injury influences. The last we’ve seen is Detroit -10 with a total around 47. There’s not much sentiment amongst sharps to lay big numbers with the Lions the way they’ve been playing lately. We expect the divisional dog to get some respect on game day from smart money influences. Though, we are hearing rumblings that sharps are keeping an eye on Minnesota and St. Louis as those 2-10 teams start jockeying for draft position.
NEW ORLEANS AT TENNESSEE: The Saints opened as favorites of -4.5 on the road, but the line has dropped to -3.5. Sharps tend to prefer New Orleans at home on their indoor fast track. They’ll back home underdogs against the Saints because New Orleans is less sharp on the road. That’s part of what you see above. But, keep in mind that four isn’t a key number, so a full point move across the four doesn’t mean the same thing as crossing a three, seven, or ten in the same manner. The total of 48 has moved up to 48.5.
PHILADELPHIA AT MIAMI: Oddmakers opened the Dolphins at -3.5 based on the recent form of these two teams. Sharps decided the hook was a bit much, and bet the Eagles down to a field goal when it became pretty likely that Michael Vick would be back in the lineup. The total went up from 44 to 45 figuring that Vick would be more productive than Vince Young. We’ll see if the market has finally caught up with the Dolphins. They’ve had a great run against the number going back several weeks.
NEW ENGLAND AT WASHINGTON: New England opened at -8.5, which is our first game this week sitting right in the teaser window. Sportsbooks don’t want the whole world on Tom Brady -2.5 in two-teamers, so they’ll have to decide whether to move the Pats up to -9, or down to -7. Given the Pats poor defense with a lead…going higher may be dicey in terms of inviting in home underdog money. We’re interested to see how this plays out. Sportsbooks are going to be one-sided on somebody when it’s all said and done.
ATLANTA AT CAROLINA: The Falcons opened at -3 in a game that’s likely to either hop between -2.5 and -3 or see increased juice on the dog at +3. Some stores are now showing Falcons -2.5 because of strong Carolina divisional home dog support. If you have a preference here, be patient and get your best number. This is likely to be one of those tug of war games where Vegas prays it doesn’t land exactly on three because then nobody would lose. The total has dropped from 48.5 to 47.5 in a divisional game. Sharps have at least made clear their preference for Carolina +3.
TAMPA BAY AT JACKSONVILLE: This game was delayed going up because of the status of Josh Freeman. It looks like the TB quarterback will be ready to go. The corresponding opener is Tampa Bay -2 with a total of 39. Jacksonville would be a popular teaser choice at that price in a game that’s projected to be low scoring. Sportsbooks may choose to live with that exposure since the Jags just lost by 24 to San Diego this past Monday Night.
SAN FRANCISCO AT ARIZONA: Some in the media were surprised that San Francisco only opened as a favorite of -3.5 here. That tells you how much respect Kevin Kolb is getting when he’s able to play for Arizona. The Cards were a cheap home dog vs. Dallas last week at a similar price and ended up winning outright in overtime. You’ll note that sharps DIDN’T bet the dog at more than a field goal though…suggesting they think the price is right…and that they’d bet SF if the public hit the divisional home dog (not likely with a team like Arizona, but you never know).
CHICAGO AT DENVER: Denver opened at -4 here, as market respect for Tebow continues to rise. Sharps bet the dog down to +3.5, but not with enough support to get all the way down to a field goal. Sportsbooks are concerned they’d get flooded with Denver money at -3 because Caleb Hanie of the Bears played so badly last week. A low opener of 36 has come down to 35.5…which is a reflection of styles of play here, in addition to a cold weather site in December.
BUFFALO AT SAN DIEGO: An opener of San Diego -6.5 was driven to -7 because Buffalo’s been struggling of late and San Diego has a history of closing strong. The totals guys hit the Over hard. Philip Rivers looked pretty good on Monday against the Jags, and the Buffalo defense has been soft all season. An opener of 46.5 is up to 48.
NY GIANTS AT DALLAS: No move yet on an opener of Cowboys -3.5. That tells you the sharps don’t like the road dog or they would have taken that hook when it was offered (like they did with the Eagles in Miami). The total has come down from 49.5 to 48.5 in a big divisional game.
ST. LOUIS AT SEATTLE: No line was posted on this game by the time we went to press because of injury issues. Sharps are much more fond of Seattle than they are of St. Louis at this point in the season…but they tend to shy away from mediocre teams who are pricey favorites. You’ve probably heard the media reports saying this could be the least bet Monday Night game in years. Sharps will bet the opener for value…or they’ll leave it alone.
That wraps up this week’s look at what sharps are thinking in the NFL. Back again with you next Friday afternoon for the next “Market Report” of Wise Guy betting in pro football