The Vegas Report: Week 16

As an early holiday present to Goal-Line Stand Nation (and also as an introductory section to this column), I’ve decided to throw out my favorite teaser play of the week to jump-start those gambling juices heading into Week 16 in the NFL.

For those of you who may be new to this little slice of heaven we call sports betting, a teaser is a bet in which you pick two teams to win against the spread. It’s just like a parlay, except you get to move the line six points in each game. You’ve got to outright win both sides to cash your ticket and for the six-point swings, books usually charge bettors an extra 10 percent.


Houston Texans (moved from -6 to a pick) at Indianapolis Colts


Carolina Panthers (moved from -7 to -1) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The logic? The Colts may have come up big and put one in the win column last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but this is where their little streak comes to an end. Not going 0-16 is enough success for this team because there is no chance in hell Indy wants to jeopardize losing the top pick in next April’s draft. Remember, the Vikings and the Rams are both 2-12 at the current moment, so the pressure is on Indy to get back to its losing ways if it wants to have a shot at Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

As for the Panthers, the loser Buccaneers have absolutely quit on the season. Tampa Bay has dropped eight straight games and if the Bucs couldn’t get up for a primetime showdown at home against the Dallas Cowboys last Saturday, they ain’t getting up for a meaningless Week 16 road game against an always-competitive Carolina Panthers team.

Best of luck and happy holidays!

OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-7, 4-3 road) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (6-8, 3-4 home)

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Opening line: Kansas City -1
Current line: Kansas City -2.5
Current betting trends: 52% of the public is backing the Chiefs.

Oakland: 8-5-1 against the spread in 14 games played this season.
Kansas City: 8-6 against the spread in 14 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The Raiders are 7-21-3 ATS in their last 31 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0, while the Chiefs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games played in the month of December.

Analysis: This game didn’t cross my radar and as a result, wasn’t scheduled to appear in this column until something very interesting happened Wednesday afternoon at approximately 4:15 p.m. ET.

I was staring at the NFL odds page when an assortment of colors flashed across the screen almost simultaneously. For those of you who are new to our odds page, when a side or total moves at one of the seven sports books we have listed, the game appears in color as to alert you to the change.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. In a matter of seconds, four different shops moved Kansas City from -1 to either -2 or -2.5. For the uninitiated, this was no coincidence. Sports books keep in touch with one another as they are, at times, united against a common enemy. In this particular example, somebody (or a group of people working together aka a “syndicate”) came out firing on the Chiefs. As a result, four books around Vegas and offshore moved the line in unison to account for the sharp action.

As it stands Thursday afternoon, all seven books listed on NFP have the Chiefs posted at either -2 or -2.5

So what does this all mean? For starters, don’t assume it was public (i.e. “square”) money that forced the line move. Sharp sports books aren’t scared of square money and in addition, it would be near impossible for enough public money to come flying in to alter this line 1-1.5 points all across town.

The reality of the situation is that somebody considered as one of the best in the business decided to come out hot on the Chiefs and as a result, Vegas bookmakers adjusted the number out of respect for where the bet was coming from.

Hey, I could feed you guys ATS trends, stats and data until the cows come home. But when something like this comes along, we’d be foolish to let the information go unnoticed.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (6-8, 4-3 road) at DALLAS COWBOYS (8-6, 5-2 home)

Time: 4:15 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Opening line: Dallas -3
Current line: Dallas -1.5
Current betting trends: 60% of the public is backing the Eagles.

Philadelphia: 6-8 against the spread in 14 games played this season.
Dallas: 5-8-1 against the spread in 14 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The Eagles are 15-6 ATS in their last 21 road games against teams with a winning home record, while the Cowboys are 0-4 ATS in their last four games against NFC East opponents.

Analysis: If the Eagles had lived up to expectations at this point in the season and were 10-4, would Vegas have opened Dallas as a 3-point favorite for this matchup?

The answer is no. And the key to remember in this game is that while Philadelphia may be 6-8 on the season, they sure as hell haven’t been playing like a losing football team as of late after blowing out the Dolphins and Jets by a combined score of 71-29 over the last two weeks.

While it may be too little, too late, the Birds are peaking as we approach the home stretch. Since 2000, Andy Reid’s Eagles are 36-13 (.734) in the NFL’s most critical month of the season. The defense leads the NFL in sacks (46) and the offense currently ranks third in the league in total yards per game (400.7 yds/gm).

The Cowboys may have put together a solid performance last Saturday against the crumbling Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but this team is just 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games as a home favorite and 1-7 ATS in their last eight games following a straight up win.

Just be sure to keep an eye on the early games before throwing down some of that hard-earned cheese on the boys in green. If the Giants manage to beat the Jets during the 1:00 p.m. slate of games, Philadelphia’s hopes of qualifying for the postseason are over.

ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-7, 2-5 road) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-6, 3-3 home)

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Opening line: Cincinnati -5.5
Current line: Cincinnati -4
Current betting trends: 72% of the public is backing the Bengals.

Arizona: 8-6 against the spread in 14 games played this season.
Cincinnati: 7-5-2 against the spread in 14 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The Cardinals are 8-1 ATS in their last nine Saturday games while the Bengals are 0-4-2 ATS in their last six games overall.

Analysis: For those of you who have been reading this column for the last few weeks, you know what comes next. For those of you who haven’t, listen up.

This game smells like a trap.

Despite the fact that 72 percent of the action is coming in on the Bengals, this line has moved 1.5 points toward the Cardinals. That means the big money is coming in on the red-hot team from Arizona.

And rightfully so. If you haven’t noticed, Ken Whisenhunt’s squad has ripped off six wins over their last seven games and has covered the number in six of their last eight outings. In addition, the Cardinals are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog.

While the Bengals are still fighting for a spot in the postseason, keep in mind that this team is 1-6 ATS in their last seven games as a home favorite of 3.5-10.0 and 7-21-1 ATS in their last 29 games as a favorite.

Cincinnati has put together an impressive season, but they’ve only won two of their last six games and in those two wins, the Bengals have come out on top by a combined 10 points.

Even when they win, it’s almost always a barnburner. That’s why it may come in handy to have those four points in your pocket come Saturday afternoon.

Former NFL agent Joe Fortenbaugh also writes for the National Football Post. Follow him on Twitter.