A summary of the week that was in the NFL as it pertains to betting, the book, and the landscape ahead.
The Lines Move, Then Move Again
Crazy line move this past weekend in the Tennessee Titans-Cleveland Browns game Sunday morning. Browns were sitting as a -1.5 favorite for most of the week but Sunday morning that all changed as the line quickly fell to a Pick, and then flipped all the way to Tennessee -1.5 at most books. Both sides were 2-1 coming into the game and with Cleveland at home the initial number of the Browns -1.5 seemed to be about right. Bettors drove that number the other way though as roughly an hour before game time Titans were the -1.5 favorite. Then, in an odd twist, Cleveland bettors came running in and hammered the line back to where it started, and closed Cleveland -1.5 at BetDSI Sportsbook. There was more action on these two lower profile teams than one might expect. While a close game would put the sportsbooks at risk (either side winning by 1 would have been rough) it didn’t matter in the end as Tennessee led early and cruised to a 31-13 victory.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks was another interesting game from a line perspective. Falcons were a -4 favorite for most of the week, a number I felt was a tad low but Atlanta was just 1-2 going into Sunday. Coming off a tough 13-16 loss at Tampa Bay I expected the Falcons to come out fired up. Bettors felt the same way as the pointspread rose on one-sided action and Atlanta closed a -6 favorite. Seattle has been quite a difficult location to play in recent years with the new stadium, and their defense is very under-rated. The offense of course leaves something to be desired but the return of WR Sidney Rice has given it some life. Early indications suggested that bettors had pegged things right as the Falcons stormed out to a 24-7 halftime lead. Fortunately for the books the missing Seahawks offense found a pulse off 319 yards and 3 TDs from QB Tarvaris Jackson, and the backdoor cover saved the books with a 30-28 Falcons final. That was the only afternoon game the ended well for the sportsbooks on Sunday.
For the first time all season the Minnesota Vikings did not have a halftime lead to blow as they closed a -3 favorite at Kansas City and trailed 7-9 at the break. The Chiefs won the second half as well and closed out as a 22-17 victor for their first win of the season. Vikings remain winless yet are once again in the role of favorite next week, -3 +05 at BetDSI Sportsbook as they host Arizona Cardinals. I suppose when a 1-3 team visits an 0-4 side, as is the case here, the home side is often right to be favored.
Pittsburgh Steelers offense continues to get pushed around causing their running backs to fail and QB Ben Roethlisberger to end up limping off the field each Sunday. The Early line in a circled game (lower betting limits) has the Steelers favored -3.5 at home over Tennessee on Sunday. I think the Titans defense is very solid and after RB Chris Johnson broke out last week for 100+ yards, my early take is a Titans wager may be in order.
Surprisingly, the Detroit Lions remain one of the only two undefeated teams after four weeks – to no one’s surprise the Green Bay Packers are the other. Detroit came back from a 3-20 deficit to pull out a 34-20 victory at Dallas as QB Tony Romo lead the Cowboys outburst with 3 TD passes and also cued the Lions comeback with 3 INTs. Detroit makes a rare Monday Night Football appearance when they host the Chicago Bears this week – Lions are an early -5 favorite with a total of 48.
Great comeback victory for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Philadelphia. Niners were 2-1 coming in to meet the 1-2 Eagles and bettors were still hammering away with their money showing love for the Eagles. The betting line closed Philadelphia -10 and bettors were happy at the half with the Eagles leading by 17 (20-3) but Niners had the last laugh in a 24-23 win. San Francisco continues to play tough football under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and was a hard-luck loser Week Two when they fell in overtime at home to Dallas after leading the game most of the way. After last season’s fiasco in San Francisco the Niners are ‘that’ close to being 4-0.
Rookie QB Cam Newton continues to impress, making the Carolina Panthers one of the more exciting 1-3 teams in recent years. Newton throwing to Steve Smith has been gold while TE Greg Olsen has also been a reliable target for the Panthers rookie QB. Tough match-up this week as New Orleans heads to Carolina as a -6.5 favorite but as the 52.5 Total suggests, this one may be fun.
A Betting System
A betting system I have used in the past with success is this: Play ‘On’ any team that starts the season 0-4 when they are at home as a pointspread dog.
This season we have Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams as the teams that are 0-4 out of the gate. Miami and St. Louis have their bye this week, and, in a strange turn, both Minnesota and Indianapolis are at home and favored this week.
One paper the New York Jets seem to be in a bad spot heading to New England having lost two in a row. Still, good teams get things together when their backs are against the wall. With the Patriots defense able to keep their opponents in the game this looks like a much closer game that the New England -9 spread indicates.
With the Chiefs at Colts and Arizona at Minnesota, I’d be willing to bet that going against the two 0-4 favorites you might split out 1-1 at worse against the spread. Then again their opponents Kansas City and Arizona are each 1-3!
A lot of talk about the 3-1 Houston Texans is rightfully about their high-powered offense but, with the loss of star WR Andre Johnson for several weeks, will people start to take note that the Texans defense has allowed the 4th fewest points in the NFL so far? Houston is a -6 favorite at home to Oakland this week before heading to Baltimore and Tennessee, they’ll miss Johnson for sure but can conceivably come out of the next three weeks with a 5-2 record when he is expected to return.
Games of the Week
10:00 Pacific: Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) at Buffalo Bills (50)
5:30 Pacific: Chicago Bears (48) at Detroit Lions (-5) Monday Night
Games I Won’t Be Watching
10:00 Pacific: Kansas City Chiefs (38.5) at Indianapolis Colts (-3 +115)
10:00 Pacific: Cincinnati Bengals (37) at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5)