No bye weeks are scheduled for Week 10, which means we have a full slate of games to choose from heading into Thursday night’s showdown between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.
However, while the increase in games gives us more opportunities to cash tickets, it’s important for recreational bettors to understand that at this point in the season, these lines are going to be tough to crack. Linesmakers have had nine weeks to analyze these teams and you can tell these guys are on their game, as evidenced by the fact that only five of the 16 opening lines have moved one point or more since being posted.
But rather than get discouraged by the utter lack of soft numbers to bet into, I decided to pick up the phone this week in an effort to gain quality insight from some of the brightest minds in the business.
Here’s what I found out…
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (6-3, 2-3 road) at ATLANTA FALCONS (5-3, 2-1 home)
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening line: New Orleans -1
Current line: Pick
Current betting trends: 72% of the public is currently backing the Saints.
New Orleans: 5-4 against the spread in nine games played this season.
Atlanta: 4-4 against the spread in eight games played this season.
Interesting trend: The underdog is 4-0 against the spread in the last four meetings between these two teams.
Analysis: Beware of Drew Brees and the Saints on the road, as New Orleans is 1-4 against the spread away from home this season. In those five games, Brees has thrown eight interceptions and posted a passer rating of just 88.4.
The Falcons have had their share of struggles as well in 2011, but keep in mind that Atlanta has covered the spread in three straight games and quarterback Matt Ryan is still 22-3 for his career at the Georgia Dome.
When analyzing the line movements and betting trends, you can tell the big money likes the Falcons, as the line has moved a full point towards Atlanta despite 72% of the bets placed coming in on New Orleans.
“The wise guys won’t bite on the Falcons until it gets up to New Orleans -2 or -2.5,” Jimmy Vaccaro, Director of Sports Operations for Lucky’s Race & Sports Book told me earlier this week. “Then maybe they can buy the game to Atlanta +3 or get what you would consider a generous money line bet.”
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-6, 0-4 road) at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (0-9, 0-4 home)
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening line: O/U 37
Current line: O/U 38
Current betting trends: 68% of the public is currently backing the UNDER.
Jacksonville: The UNDER is 7-1 in eight games played this season.
Indianapolis: The OVER is 6-3 in nine games played this season.
Interesting trend: The UNDER is 5-1 in the Colts’ last six games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0 and 4-0 in the Jaguars’ last four road games.
Analysis: The public loves to bet overs when it comes to NFL totals, but you have to keep in mind that Indianapolis and Jacksonville rank 31st and 32nd in the NFL in total offense, respectively. Not only that, but both teams currently rank in the bottom three in the league in scoring this season.
“This play is solid on a number of fronts,” Warren Sharp of SharpFootballAnalysis.com told me on Wednesday. “The Colts offense has scored an average of only eight points per game over their last three outings, despite playing fairly average defenses in the Saints, Titans and Falcons. They now go up against the sixth-most efficient defense in the league in Jacksonville, who has allowed just 16 points per game in their last three contests, against solid offenses in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston.”
“Add on the fact that the Jaguars are off their bye and bye week teams—particularly bad teams—have seen a ton of UNDERS cash this season. In fact, teams at or below .500 off their bye have seen UNDERS go 8-1 this year by a solid 12 points per game.”
BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-2, 2-2 road) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-6, 1-2 home)
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Opening line: Baltimore -7.5
Current line: Baltimore -6.5
Current betting trends: 92% of the public is currently backing the Ravens.
Baltimore: 5-3 against the spread in eight games played this season.
Seattle: 4-3-1 against the spread in eight games played this season.
Interesting trend: The Ravens are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against a team with a losing record, while the Seahawks are 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games.
Analysis: Stop traffic. 92% of the early action is coming in on the Ravens after their prime-time win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. If Baltimore could beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, they most certainly can take out the Seahawks in Seattle, right?
Take it easy on this one. Yes, the Ravens are the better football team and yes, the Seahawks have stunk it up this season. But Baltimore is just 2-2 against the spread on the road this season, with their losses coming at Tennessee and at Jacksonville—two inferior opponents. In addition, John Harbaugh’s team is just 4-11 against the spread in their last 15 games as a road favorite of 3.5-10.0. This game could be a trap.
“You’ll probably see sharp money on the Seattle Seahawks this week,” Vaccaro told me on Tuesday. “Baltimore’s coming off a big win and traveling to play a non-divisional opponent across the country. We know Seattle’s not that good. But giving up a touchdown, you’ll see money there. Situation dictates it’s a spot to play against the Ravens because even if they lose the game, it’s not a divisional contest that will hurt them all that bad in the long run.”