“Damn, the Patriots are laying two-and-the-hook at Pittsburgh next week,” I told my former law school colleague and fellow Las Vegas sportsbook rat, D.K., this past Sunday night after the New Orleans Saints delivered us a winning ticket in their blowout win over the hapless Indianapolis Colts. “I still love Brady and the Pats in that spot.”
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I sat at the 45-yard line at Heinz Field last Nov. 14 and watched Tom Brady post a 117.4 QB rating in a 39-26 butt-kicking of the eventual AFC Champion-Steelers. Or maybe it’s because I came to find out later that Tom Terrific is a rock-solid 6-1 in his career against the Black & Yellow (including the postseason).
Either way, the Patriots are a team I definitely had my eye on earlier in the week. And while that particular spread has only moved a half point to the key number of New England -3, getting the best of the early numbers is half the battle, as I’ve come to learn during my two months in Las Vegas.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three of the intriguing line moves that took place heading into Week 8 and analyze what these changes could mean for all you “recreational bettors.”
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (3-3, 1-2 road) at BUFFALO BILLS (4-2, 3-0 home)
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET (Toronto)
Opening line: Buffalo -4
Current line: Buffalo -6
Current betting trends: 88% of the public is currently backing the Bills.
Washington: 3-3 against the spread in six games this season.
Buffalo: 3-2-1 against the spread in six games this season.
Interesting trend: The Bills are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games following a bye week.
Analysis: Back-to-back losses, a depleted offense and an opponent coming off a bye week are just a few of the reasons why the Washington Redskins are receiving virtually no love from the early bettors heading into their Week 8 showdown with the Buffalo Bills. With No. 1 wideout Santana Moss sidelined for the next five-to-seven weeks and running back Tim Hightower out for the season, quarterback John Beck and the Washington offense may have trouble keeping pace with a high-powered Buffalo attack that is scoring an average of 31.3 points per game this season (3rd in NFL).
One bright spot for ‘Skins backers comes in the form of the new collective bargaining agreement, which limits the amount of time teams can meet during their off weeks. Take note that the 12 teams who have already served their bye are a combined 4-6-2 against the spread in 2011.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (4-2, 2-1 road) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-4, 1-1 home)
Time: 4:15 p.m. ET
Opening line: Cincinnati -2
Current line: Cincinnati -3
Current betting trends: 73% of the public is currently backing the Bengals.
Cincinnati: 5-1 against the spread in six games this season.
Seattle: 3-2-1 against the spread in six games this season.
Interesting trend: The Seahawks are 2-10 against the spread in their last 12 games after allowing fewer than 15 points in their previous game.
Analysis: Seattle as a home dog to Andy Dalton and the Bengals? That’s precisely what happens when your starting quarterback goes 12 of 30 for 97 yards and your offense musters only three points in an embarrassing 6-3 road loss at Cleveland the previous week. Still, keep in mind the Seahawks are 4-0 against the spread in their last four home games and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games after scoring fewer than 15 points in their previous contest. On the flip side, the Bengals are coming off their bye and are 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games overall.
Early bettors pushed this line from Cincinnati -2 to the key number of Cincinnati -3, but it will be interesting to see how Vegas bookmakers react on Sunday, when the public will be forced to choose between Charlie Whitehurst at Qwest Field or Andy Dalton in a tough road environment. The Bengals currently rank second in the NFL in total defense, which could be the deciding factor in this Pacific Northwest showdown.
DALLAS COWBOYS (3-3, 1-2, road) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2-4, 0-2 home)
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Opening line: Over/Under 51
Current line: Over/Under 50.5
Current betting trends: 56% of the public is currently backing the OVER.
Dallas: The UNDER is 3-3 in six games played this season.
Philadelphia: The OVER is 4-2 in six games played this season.
Interesting trend: The UNDER is 4-1 in the Eagles’ last five home games.
Analysis: I spoke with my good friend Warren Sharp, who runs the website SharpFootballAnalysis.com, about this game on Tuesday and he had some very interesting thoughts on the matter. Sharp’s website has been up for six years and the computer program he developed to predict NFL totals has been picking at a rate of 65 percent with over 350 plays issued.
For starters, Sharp ran some numbers and told me that games featuring teams coming off their bye week this season have seen the UNDER go 9-3 by an average of nine points per game. In addition, UNDERS are 14-2 in Philadelphia’s last 16 games coming off a bye (playoffs included), since 2000.
Said Sharp, “In the 12 combined games these two teams have played this season, only three of those contests have totaled more than 51 points. In addition, since 2009, divisional games totaled over 44 featuring one team off a bye have seen UNDERS go 10-3, including 7-1 if totaled 47 or higher.”
If you’re interested in getting down on the UNDER, I recommend that you wait until Sunday afternoon to make your play. The public loves to bet OVERS, and with Michael Vick playing in a prime-time showdown, you might be able to earn yourself an extra point based on all the squares who will rush the window expecting this one to be a shootout.