Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 2, 2011 at 4:37 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. Philadelphia and Seattle have already played their Week 13 game.
TENNESSEE AT BUFFALO: Not much interest in this one, with an opener of Buffalo -1.5 and 43 largely standing pat. Had sharps liked this cheap home favorite, they would have jumped in right away. So, you can deduce that there’s no love for Buffalo based on their recent form. Tennessee is very likely to be popular basic strategy teaser play if the line doesn’t move…with the six-point adjustment cross both the 3 and the 7 on the dog. If December weather becomes an issue, that means points will be at even more of a premium. This isn’t expected to be a heavily bet game from the public.
KANSAS CITY AT CHICAGO: Support for Kansas City as a big dog on the opener of +9. The line has come all the way down to +7. Some of that maybe a rush through the teaser window so sportsbooks wouldn’t have had to sweat a lot of Chicago -1.5 of -2 plays within two-teamers. We’re hearing it’s a mix…as sharps just didn’t believe Caleb Hanie was ready to lay such a high price in the NFL. The total has come down a point from 38.5 to 37.5. Be sure to check the game day forecasts in the Ice Belt cities through the month of December.
OAKLAND AT MIAMI: Miami opened at -2.5, but is up to -3 now most everywhere. The Dolphins are earning respect with their strong defensive play of late. Plus, they have extra preparation time this week because they played on Thanksgiving. Here’s another opener in the teaser window though. Sportsbooks know that sharps and the public would have been looking at a playoff team at +8.5 against a non-playoff team…so this move may have been partly defense against teasers too. The total is up a half a point from 42.5 to 43.
CINCINNATI AT PITTSBURGH: No movement yet on an opener of Pittsburgh -7. The Bengals have impressed enough lately that they would get sharp support at +7.5. The public might jump all over Pittsburgh at -6.5 given their earlier victory on the road over the Bengals. So, this one might stay a solid seven all weekend. The total is up a half a point from 42 to 42.5. Sharps generally prefer defensive-minded divisional underdogs in games like this…so we may see smart money come in on the Bengals Sunday morning. For now, sharps will wait to see if the public bets Pittsburgh in a way that increases underdog value.
BALTIMORE AT CLEVELAND: Speaking of defensive-minded divisional dogs, Cleveland is getting support at home in this one. They opened at +7, but are now +6.5. Sharps remember that Baltimore couldn’t even win straight up in Jacksonville or Seattle. Cleveland tends to run clock with a conservative offense in a way that shortens the game. The total is up a tick from 37.5 to 38.
NY JETS AT WASHINGTON: Oddsmakers were expecting respect for the Jets, so they opened this one at Jets -3.5. Sharps immediately took the home dog, which has brought the line down to a field goal. This is likely to be one of those games that either hops between 3 and 3.5, or offers higher juice to bet the favorite at -3 on game day. The public could see the Jets as a value side at the low price. Sharps don’t trust Mark Sanchez to win on the road here when he couldn’t do that in Denver.
ATLANTA AT HOUSTON: Atlanta opened at -2.5, and stayed there. This tells us that sharps DON’T like the Falcons or they would have jumped all over that opener at less than a field goal. It’s telling how much respect sharps have for the Houston defense and running game this year that they still won’t bet against a third team starting quarterback. The total has come WAY down from 41 to 37.5. Just a bad opener from oddsmakers on that total. Houston played to a 33 last week in Jacksonville in a game that had a defensive touchdown.
CAROLINA AT TAMPA BAY: Here’s another game that was driven toward the field goal, this time from the other direction. Tampa Bay opened at -3.5, but underdog money corrected that. Maybe we have another tug-of-war game between the -3 and -3.5 marks with inflated juice as a counterbalance. But, Tampa Bay’s been shaky enough this year that the line may just settle at a field goal. Not sure what oddsmakers saw with the Bucs up front to encourage them to put the hook in the opener.
DETROIT AT NEW ORLEANS: This game has been time-changed on your schedule because NBC wanted to show it in prime time instead of Indy-New England. The flex scheduling part of their contract allowed them to pilfer the game from FOX. An opener of -8.5 moved to -9. Some of that may be the suspension of Suh…but you know that sportsbooks didn’t want everyone on New Orleans -2.5 in their teasers given what they saw this past Monday Night against the Giants. Probably some teaser defense in there too.
DENVER AT MINNESOTA: Not much interest here, with Minnesota either sitting at -1 or -1.5 depending on where you shop. Much like Tennessee-Buffalo in that its hard to trust the home team given recent form, but the visitor isn’t one you can just automatically pencil in for a road win either. Maybe some Tebow money will hit the boards over the weekend. But, even the media darling isn’t winning in ways that would make it seem like a safe bet near pick-em.
ST. LOUIS AT SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco opened at -13, and is either at -13 or -13.5 as we go to press. It’s telling that the usual kneejerk money on any double digit underdog didn’t have any influence here. Sharps don’t like how this horrible St. Louis offense matches up against the strong San Francisco defense. There also usually respect for home favorites who have extra rest off a Thanksgiving appearance.
DALLAS AT ARIZONA: Dallas is a favorite after a Turkey Day appearance, but a road favorite. Sharps jumped on the home underdog here, driving an opener of Dallas -6.5 down to Dallas -4.5. Some of that was based on the news that Kevin Kolb went through a full practice…suggesting he’d be ready for the weekend. And, some of that is that a subset of sharps really like betting Arizona at home in value spots. It will be interesting to see if the public drives Dallas back up over the weekend.
GREEN BAY AT THE NY GIANTS: Green Bay opened at -7. The line is down to Packers -6.5, with no buy back yet after the line move. That tells you that some important sharp money respects the dog here…enough to move the line off a key number even before waiting for the public to bet. Is this the week Green Bay finally loses? Some sharps are hinting that possibility is on their minds.
INDIANAPOLIS AT NEW ENGLAND: Wow…a pointspread up near three touchdowns! This one opener at New England -20.5. There were some 21’s out there…but things seem to have settled on a 20 at the moment. Sharps tend to prefer big underdogs like this just on principal. Were the public to take the line back up to 21, more sharps would come in for sure. This may be a popular sharp bet even at +20 on game day.
SAN DIEGO AT JACKSONVILLE: The big move here has been on the total, with an opener of 37.5 being bet up to 39.5. Some of that may involve the coaching change…as Jack Del Rio was being very conservative to this point in the season. New coach…nothing to lose…we may see things open up for the Jaguars in a way that either increases their scoring or sets up easy points for their opponent. Nothing on the team side as San Diego has stayed at -3.
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