Joe Fortenbaugh

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The Vegas Report: Week 14

Despite what happened last week in Miami, the Raiders might be a good play on the road in Week 14.

I wish I had some clutch insight for Thursday night’s Cleveland-Pittsburgh showdown at Heinz Field, but the fact of the matter is that this is a big line for a game few people (outside of the gambling community) are probably interested in.

Here are some key trends to keep in mind for Thursday, should you decide to get a little loose prior to this weekend’s action:

1. The OVER is 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings between these two teams in Pittsburgh.
2. The favorite is 9-4-1 ATS in the last 14 meetings between these two teams.
3. The Browns are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games at Pittsburgh.

And just for reference, 77 percent of the public is currently backing the Pittsburgh Steelers, while 64% is backing the over.

Here’s the rundown for Sunday…

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-3, 3-3 road) at TENNESSEE TITANS (7-5, 4-2 home)

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening line: New Orleans -4.5
Current line: New Orleans -3.5
Current betting trends: 92% of the public is currently backing the Saints.

New Orleans: 8-4 against the spread in 12 games played this season.
Tennessee: 7-5 against the spread in 12 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The Saints are 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a road favorite of 3.5-10.0, while the Titans are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog.

Analysis: Beware of the proverbial trap game in Nashville this weekend as the surging Saints hit the road to take on Tennessee Titans.

The Saints have been shredding the opposition as of late, having covered the number in four straight contests while averaging a ridiculous 33.3 points per game in the process. But before you go jumping on the Big Easy Bandwagon, ask yourselves why this line has moved one point towards Tennessee when 92% of the bets already placed are coming in on New Orleans?

Simple. The books are begging you to take the Saints in this one. For as red-hot as Drew Brees and company have been over the last few weeks, keep in mind that New Orleans is just 2-4 ATS on the road this season, with disappointing outright losses at Tampa Bay and at St. Louis. In addition, the Who Dats are a shocking 1-6 ATS in their last seven outings as a road favorite.

Meanwhile, the Titans continue to find ways to get the job done week in and week out. They still have plenty to play for this season with a possible spot in the postseason still attainable. And not only that, but this team has actually covered the line in four straight games and is 5-1 ATS in their last six games as an underdog.

Before you go dumping some hard-earned cash on the Saints this Sunday, ask yourself why this line is so low. It’s not because Las Vegas has decided to hand out free money this week.

OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-5, 4-2 road) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (12-0, 5-0 home)

Time: 4:15 p.m. ET
Opening line: Green Bay -12
Current line: Green Bay -11
Current betting trends: 86% of the public is currently backing the Packers.

Interesting trends: The Raiders are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games, while the Packers are 15-6 ATS in their last 21 games as a favorite.

Analysis: When breaking down this game, it’s important to avoid being heavily persuaded by Oakland’s blowout loss at Miami last Sunday. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on the fact that the Raiders are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following a straight-up loss.

First off, lets talk about motivation. Sure, the Packers would probably love to go 16-0 this season, but this team has already locked up a playoff spot and is well on their way to earning home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. On the other side of the rock sits a hungry Oakland team that is currently looking up at the Denver Broncos in the race for the AFC West title. You know the Silver & Black will be bringing their A game to Lambeau on Sunday, as their postseason lives depend on it.

Now lets take a look at the line movement. It’s no surprise to see that 86% of the action is coming in on Aaron Rodgers and the undefeated Packers, but if all the cheese is coming in on Green Bay, wouldn’t Vegas bookmakers be moving this number north, rather than towards the Raiders? That’s right, the heavy money is actually coming in on Oakland to cover in this one. How else can you explain the line dropping from GB -12 to GB -11?

Keep these two trends in mind heading into Sunday: First, the Packers are 8-17-2 against the line in their last 27 games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater. Second, the Raiders are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a road underdog.

We aren’t saying the Raiders will ruin the Packers’ hopes for an undefeated season. We’re just saying that this game will likely be closer than most people expect.

Just for fun, be advised that a $100 bet on the Raiders to win this game outright pays $475 over at Sportsbook.com.

Bonus fact: 76% of the public is betting the over in this game, but the total has dropped from 55 to 52. The under looks like a pretty solid play here.

CHICAGO BEARS (7-5, 2-3 road) at DENVER BRONCOS (7-5, 2-3 home)

Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Opening line: Denver -4
Current line: Denver -3.5
Current betting trends: 82% of the public is currently backing the Broncos.

Interesting trends: The Bears are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as an underdog, while the Broncos are 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall.

Analysis: Granted, the line may be moving against the Broncos despite the fact that 82% of the action is coming in on Denver, but I’m not sure I want to buy what the early, big-money bettors are selling. How can you possibly like Caleb Hanie and the Bears in this spot?

In two games without Jay Cutler under center, the Bears are 0-2 and averaging only 12.5 points per game, with an unacceptable six turnovers. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this offense is a pathetic 6 for 25 (24%) on third downs since Cutler was lost with a thumb injury.

But here’s where it gets interesting: Despite the fact that Denver has covered the number in five straight contests, the Broncos have been winning by an average of just 6.2 points per game, with three of those wins coming by four or fewer points.

It appears as if the sharp money believes that getting more than a field goal in this one should be enough to cash the ticket. Remember, Denver is just 1-4-1 ATS in their last six home games while the Bears are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous outing.

It’s tough to go against Tim Tebow at the moment, so this looks like a potential no-play situation. If you decide to get down, brace yourself for another close call.

The Vegas Report: Week 13

I know we talked about this last week, but it bears repeating since one of our favorite and most profitable trends here at Goal-Line Stand will once again come into play Thursday night in the Pacific Northwest, as the Philadelphia Eagles travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.

Over the previous 15 seasons, teams that have had to travel 1,500 or more miles to play a midseason Thursday game coming off a Sunday contest have gone 0-12 straight up and against the spread. This situation has already occurred twice in 2011, as the Broncos defeated the Jets in Week 11 and the Ravens took down the 49ers in Week 12 on Thanksgiving.

Guess what? Philadelphia played New England on Sunday and now has to travel over 2,700 miles to take on the Seahawks Thursday night.

This game opened at PHI -2.5 and has moved in the Eagles’ direction to PHI -3, with 72% of the action coming in on Vince Young and the Birds.

I can tell you with confidence that I have no intention of joining that 72%.

DALLAS COWBOYS (7-4, 2-3 road) at ARIZONA CARDINALS (4-7, 2-2 home)

Time: 4:15 ET
Opening line: Dallas -6.5
Current line: Dallas -4.5
Current betting trends: 90% of the public is currently backing the Cowboys.

Dallas: 4-6-1 against the spread in 11 games played this season.
Arizona: 6-5 against the spread in 11 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The Cowboys are 0-4 ATS in their last four games against a team with a losing record and 3-12-1 ATS in their last 16 games as a favorite.

Analysis: This game stinks like a trap, so take caution before dumping last week’s paycheck on the suddenly surging Dallas Cowboys.

Despite the fact that they’ve won four straight games, the ‘Boys have failed to cover the number in four of their last five outings. On the flip side, the Cardinals have very quietly covered the spread in four of their last five games and could be in line for an offensive boost, should quarterback Kevin Kolb return to the starting lineup this Sunday.

Also, take note that while 90% of the action is coming in on Dallas, the line has moved two points away from the Cowboys. That means the big money is all over Arizona.

“Dallas has quickly become the favorite to win the NFC East amid the Giants’ recent struggles,” Caesars Entertainment Senior Race & Sports Analyst Todd Fuhrman told me on Thursday. “However, wiseguys aren’t buying into their dominance just yet, as they bet the Cardinals on the open amid speculation that Kevin Kolb may make the start. Much like they faded Dallas with Miami on Thanksgiving, there’s been value going against the Cowboys as chalk this year.”

NEW YORK JETS (6-5, 1-4 road) at WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-7, 2-3 home)

Time: 1:00pm ET
Opening line: O/U 37.5
Current line: O/U 38.5
Current betting trends: 90% of the public is currently backing the OVER.

NY Jets: The OVER is 7-4 in 11 games played this season.
Washington: The UNDER is 7-4 in 11 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The OVER is 5-1 in the Jets’ last six games as a road favorite and 18-7-1 in the Jets’ last 26 road games.

Analysis: The ‘Skins showcase a relatively low-scoring offense, but the team is averaging 23.5 points per game over quarterback Rex Grossman’s last two starts, both of which cashed for over bettors. Meanwhile, the over has gone 21-8 in the Jets’ last 29 games overall. When it comes to NFL totals, we’ll turn to our man Warren Sharp of SharpFootballAnalysis.com for the scoop:

“Mark Sanchez threw four touchdown passes last week against the Bills and while he earned the dubious distinction of being the first Jets quarterback since Namath to throw for four TDs on less than 50% completions, the fact is, since 2010 in games after Sanchez throws for three or more TDs, the Jets OVERS are 4-0 if totaled 40 or less and go over by an average of 12 points per game. The coaches dial up more for him in the passing game as he just had a successful outing.

“His counterpart is Rex Grossman, who has become extremely aggressive the last two weeks in the passing game. After a very solid outing vs. the Giants to open the season, Rex averaged just 6.1 YPA (yards per attempt) before being benched in the Philly game. Rex got the call to come back and start after backup John Beck proved ineffective and the last two weeks he averaged 8 yards per attempt and delivered back-to-back overs.

“This is the Jets’ lowest total of the season. Dating back to the end of 2009, the Jets have played in 11 road games totaled 41 or lower. In those 11 games, OVERS are 10-1. The only UNDER was vs. Tim Tebow on Thursday night two weeks ago. Keep in mind that that game featured ‘Tebow ball,’ and that results in a very low-scoring, fast moving game.”

DETROIT LIONS (7-4, 4-1 road) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (8-3, 5-0 home)

Time: 8:20pm ET
Opening line: New Orleans -8.5
Current line: New Orleans -9
Current betting trends: 75% of the public is currently backing the Saints.

Detroit: 6-4-1 against the spread in 11 games played this season.
New Orleans: 7-4 against the spread in 11 games played this season.

Interesting trends: The Lions are 1-4 ATS in their last five games against NFC opponents, while the Saints are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games.

Analysis: This is a big line, but we all know how difficult it is to win in New Orleans. The Saints are 5-0 ATS in their last five games as a home favorite and 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games against a team with a winning record. The Lions got off to a red-hot start in 2011, but keep in mind that they have failed to cover the number in four of their last five games and will be without stud defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is suspended for the next two weeks due to the infamous “Thanksgiving Day Stomping” incident.

So New Orleans looks like a lock to cover, right? In the words of the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friends.”

“For openers the Lions enter with four extra days of prep time off their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Packers while the Saints check in off Monday night’s rout of the Giants,” veteran handicapper Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com and Covers.com told me Thursday. “My main concern is that the New Orleans defense has surrendered season-high yardage totals in each of their last two games (New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons).

“New Orleans is also 4-8 straight up and against the spread in games after playing on Mondays (0-4 ATS last four). On the flip side, Detroit has held two of their last three foes to season-low yardage totals and is 6-1 straight up and 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven contests on the road. Despite the loss of Ndamukong Suh, look for the Lions to come up with a big effort Sunday.”

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

The Vegas Report: Week 12

Before we get into this week’s breakdown, I wanted to share a trend with all of you that my man Brad Gagnon dropped in one of his columns last Thursday.

“Over the previous 15 seasons, teams that had to travel 1,500-plus miles to play a midseason Thursday game on super-short rest have gone 0-10 against the line and straight up, losing by an average of 19.7 points a game.”

That trend moved to 11-0 straight up and against the spread with Denver’s improbable come-from-behind win over the New York Jets last Thursday night.

Not only that, but this trend comes into play once again on Thanksgiving night, as Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers will travel over 2,000 miles on short rest to take on John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.

Guess which side my money will be backing?

CHICAGO BEARS (7-3, 2-2 road) at OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-4, 2-3 home)

Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Opening line: Chicago -1.5
Current line: Oakland -5
Current betting trends: 58% of the public is currently backing the Bears.

Chicago: 6-4 against the spread in 10 games played this season.
Oakland: 6-4 against the spread in 10 games played this season.

Interesting trend: The Bears are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games against the Raiders.

Analysis: What’s the difference between Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie? Besides millions of dollars and an engagement to reality star Kristin Cavallari, Las Vegas says it’s 4.5 points, as Chicago opened at -1.5 for Sunday’s showdown at Oakland but reemerged at +3 once the news came down that Cutler would be out of action for an extended period of time after undergoing thumb surgery on Tuesday.

But before you race to the counters in an effort to get your hard-earned cash down on the Silver & Black, be sure to keep a few key facts in mind:

1. This is NOT Tyler Palko and the Chiefs at New England. Hanie has been in this system for three years, has a week to prepare for his first career start and has been thrown into more pressure-filled situations than a regular-season game at Oakland. Remember, this guy completed 13 of 20 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in last January’s NFC Championship game. The Bears may have lost, but Hanie gained some very valuable experience in the process.

2. Look for the Bears to lean heavily on running backs Matt Forte and Marion Barber in an effort to control the clock and set up their play-action offense. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Oakland ranks 25th in the league against the run (131.6 yds/gm)? My bad.

3. They’ve been winning games, but the Raiders are an undisciplined football team. They’ve already committed 114 penalties this season (second in the NFL) and have a turnover differential of minus-1 through 11 weeks (17th in NFL).  Meanwhile, the Bears are +11 in turnovers this season (third in NFL).

The Bears will certainly have their work cut out for them on Sunday, but don’t expect this defense to go quietly into the night just because their starting quarterback is out for the next 6-8 weeks. Remember, these guys have covered the spread in five straight games.

NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4, 3-2 road) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-3, 4-0 home)

Time:  8:30 p.m. ET (Monday night)
Opening line: O/U 52
Current line: O/U 50.5
Current betting trends: 56% of the public is currently backing the UNDER.

New York Giants: The OVER is 5-4-1 in 10 games played this season.
New Orleans: The OVER is 5-5 in 10 games played this season.

Analysis: When you think New Orleans, you think points. When you think New York, you think…well, I don’t know what the hell you would think after that egg the G-Men laid last Sunday night against Philadelphia.

When you think NFL totals, you better be thinking about my man Warren Sharp from Sharp Football Analysis.com, who has been cashing left and right on overs and unders this season.  Lets open up the floor for his thoughts on this Monday night showdown:

“The Saints have seen two straight unders and are now playing off of a bye week, and bye week teams this season have seen unders go 12-3 if the total is set above 44.

“An interesting phenomenon takes place when the Saints play at home. Since 2009, for home games totaled above 45 in the first 8 weeks of the season, the Saints’ average home total is 49 and OVERS hit six of ten times, going over by four points per game.

“However, in the second half of the season, the Saints’ average home total is 50.5 and the UNDER is 7-0 since 2009, going under by seven points per game. This Saints team is not nearly as explosive as they’ve been in the previous few seasons. New Orleans has scored over 27 points just one time in their last five games and that was against the winless Colts.”

To further Warren’s point, take a look at the fact that this total opened at 52 and has already been bet down to 50.5. This may not be the shootout that most people think we’re in store for on Monday night.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-8, 0-4 road) at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (0-10, 0-5 home)

Time:  1:00 p.m. ET
Opening line: Carolina -4
Current line: Carolina -3
Current betting trends: 70% of the public is currently backing the Panthers.

Carolina: 5-5 against the spread in 10 games played this season.
Indianapolis: 2-8 against the spread in 10 games played this season.

Interesting trend: The Colts are 7-20 against the spread in their last 27 games following a straight up loss.

Analysis: Here we have a classic example of a game that nobody wants to watch, but plenty of people want to bet. Carolina opened as a 4-point road favorite, but that number was quickly steamed down to -3 by the early bettors, who clearly like the home Colts and the points coming off a bye.

Indianapolis has been dreadful this season, as the Colts have covered only two spreads all year and are 0-9 ATS in their last nine games against a team with a losing record.  But keep in mind that the Panthers aren’t much better. Carolina is 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games and has only covered one spread over their last five outings.

The key for the Indy offense will be to establish the running game early, as Carolina currently ranks 30th in the NFL against the run (140.7 yds/gm). On the flip side, the Colts have a run defense that ranks 31st in the NFL (145.6 yds/gm) and will likely have trouble slowing down running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

The big red flag we see with this game is that despite 70% of the bets coming on in Cam Newton and Carolina, the line is actually moving AWAY from the Panthers. That means the big money is backing the Colts.

In a game that could go either way, I’d feel more confident knowing my cash in on the same side as big-money players who get down on the best numbers early in the week.

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

The Vegas Report: Week 11

It’s amazing how balanced the NFL has been through the first 10 weeks of the season.

Favorites are just 71-69-6 (50.71%) this year while away teams are 72-68-6 (51.43%). Home dogs are cashing 46.81% of the time (22-25-2) while home favorites are paying out 49.46% of the time (46-47-4).

What do all those numbers mean? Simple. NFL linesmakers are very good at what they do. Which means that we, the betting public, need to be very good at what we do. Buying numbers on Sunday 30 minutes before kickoff is generally a bad idea unless you like the underdog. It’s important to study these lines early in the week, try to assess which way the line is moving and what side the sharp money is on and then adjust accordingly.

That’s the purpose of this column. So let’s take a look at three games on the Week 11 schedule that have seen enough action to force some legitimate line movements and prepare ourselves for a profitable weekend.

CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-3, 4-1 road) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-3, 4-0 home)

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening line: Baltimore -9
Current line: Baltimore -7
Current betting trends: 58% of the public is currently backing the Bengals.

Cincinnati: 7-2 against the spread in nine games played this season.
Baltimore: 5-4 against the spread in nine games played this season.

Interesting trend: The Bengals are 4-0 against the spread in the last four meetings between these two teams.

Analysis: For as sharp as NFL sides tend to get at this point in the season, it looks like the linesmakers may have missed on this one as the early money poured in on the opening number of Cincinnati +9 and steamed the line all the way down to Baltimore -7.

Prior to their Week 10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals had covered five straight spreads and were 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall. Keep in mind that this is a team that has lost three games this season by a combined 14 points, but will be without stud cornerback Leon Hall (Achilles) for the remainder of the season.

On the flip side sits a Ravens team that is coming off another trap game loss, this time to the Seattle Seahawks. Baltimore’s three defeats this season have come against three teams that rank in the top half in the league in total defense. In those three aforementioned games, quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 53.3 percent of his passes and threw four interceptions. Be advised that entering Week 11, the Bengals rank fifth in the league in total defense.

“Baltimore seems like a team who has struggled mightily to find an identity this year,” Caesars Entertainment Senior Race & Sports Analyst Todd Fuhrman told me Wednesday. “Their unwillingness to lean heavily on Ray Rice is somewhat troubling since he’s the most dynamic playmaker on the Ravens offense. This number at -9 was probably high given how stout the Bengals defense has been, but then again, do you really want to fade the Ravens off a pathetic effort in the Pacific Northwest? A price at -7 should get great two-way action in a pivotal AFC North showdown.”

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-6, 1-4 road) at CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-6, 2-3 home)

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening line: Cleveland -1.5
Current line: Jacksonville -1
Current betting trends: 68% of the public is currently backing the Jaguars.

Jacksonville: 4-4-1 against the spread in nine games played this season.
Cleveland: 3-6 against the spread in nine games played this season.

Interesting trend: The road team is 5-2 against the spread in the last seven meetings between these two teams.

Analysis: Despite identical records, this is a story of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Jaguars are 3-0-1 against the spread in their last four games, while the Browns are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six contests. In fact, Cleveland has only covered one spread this season, which came back in Week 2 against the lackluster Indianapolis Colts.

The Jaguars rank dead last in the NFL in total offense this year, but have been solid on the other side of the football, ranking fourth in total defense and sixth in points allowed (18.4 pts/gm). In addition, Jacksonville is 4-0 ATS in their last four November games and 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine outings following an ATS win.

Meanwhile, the Browns are 0-4 ATS in their last four November games and 1-8-2 ATS in their last 11 home contests. This is a team that lacks playmakers on both sides of the football and ranks 29th in the NFL in scoring (14.6 pts/gm).

Betting this game means you’ll have to sit through 60 minutes of some of the most unimpressive and boring football planet Earth has ever seen, but if you feel compelled to get down, we’d lean towards the hot-handed Jaguars.

Remember, this game opened at Cleveland -1.5 and was quickly bet all the way to Jacksonville -1, meaning the early money loves Jack Del Rio and the Jags.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-5, 2-2 road) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-3, 3-1 home)

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET (Monday night)
Opening line: O/U 48
Current line: O/U 46.5
Current betting trends: 52% of the public is currently backing the UNDER.

Kansas City: The UNDER is 6-3 in nine games played this season.
New England: The OVER is 5-4 in nine games played this season.

Interesting trend: The UNDER is 6-1 in the Chiefs’ last seven games following an against the spread loss and 4-1 in the Patriots’ last five games as a favorite.

Analysis: As we’ve mentioned before in this column, the betting public loves to back OVERS. But after a high-scoring start to the season, the NFL has regressed back to the mean, as OVERS are currently just 74-71 (51.03%) through 10 weeks of football after a four-week stretch that saw UNDERS cashing at an alarming rate.

My man Warren Sharp of SharpFootballAnalysis.com specializes in NFL totals and has been on the right side of more than 60 percent of his plays this season, so I reached out to him in the hopes of gaining some valuable insight into how to attack this Monday night showdown.

“I had my clients take the UNDER at 48 and the line is now down to 46.5,” Sharp told me on Wednesday. “My research supports the UNDER but in addition to my numbers, not only is Tyler Palko the new starting quarterback for the Chiefs, but he also throws with a different hand (left) than did Matt Cassel (right). This changes protections, bootlegs and other aspects of the Chiefs offense, which was already one of the worst in the league. Their game plan must be conservative and it must be to try to burn the clock, keep Brady off the field and shorten the game. The Patriots are very likely to win this one in grand fashion, but they are not the same offense that was putting up 40-50 points a game like they did in 2007. Two trends support a play on the under:

1. Since 2008, home teams who face a very bad offensive opponent (scoring fewer than 16 pts/gm) have seen UNDERS go 12-3 if they are set above 44 points. This trend is 3-0 so far in 2011.

2. Since 2008, teams who scored over 30 points the previous week and over 10 points more than Vegas predicted that they would score, have seen UNDERS go 56-28 in the second half of the season. If their opponent averages fewer than 18 points per game, the under is 11-3.”

Bonus trends for tonight’s game! NEW YORK JETS (5-3, 1-3 road) at DENVER BRONCOS (4-5, 1-3 home)

Time: 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Opening line: NY Jets -5/42.5
Current line: NY Jets -6/40
Current betting trends: 78% backing the JETS, 55% backing the UNDER.

New York Jets: 4-5 against the spread, OVER is 6-3
Denver Broncos: 4-5 against the spread, OVER is 6-3

1. The Jets are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as a road favorite of 3.5-10.0.
2. The Jets are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
3. The Broncos are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against AFC opponents.
4. The Broncos are 1-8-1 in their last ten games following an ATS win.
5. The OVER is 7-0 in the Jets’ last seven games on grass.
6. The OVER is 12-2 in the Broncos’ last 14 home games.
7. The UNDER is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams in Denver.

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

The Vegas Report: Week 10

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.”

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

The Vegas Report: Week 9

The NFL is beginning to balance itself out.

After an early-season run of favorites and OVERS that had the public cashing tickets at an alarming rate, the numbers are beginning to regress back towards the mean. Through eight weeks of football, favorites now hold just a slight edge over the dogs (57-53-6, 51.8%) while OVERS currently boast a record of just 61-54 (53.04%).

However, one trend that continues to baffle linesmakers and sharps alike has to do with the bye weeks. Entering Week 9, UNDERS are a surprising 14-4 in games that feature at least one team coming off the bye. Not only that, but these games are going UNDER by an average of 8.5 points per game!

That should give you a hint as to which way I’m leaning for Sunday’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the San Diego Chargers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three other games on the Week 9 schedule that have seen some interesting line movements out here in Las Vegas over the last few days.

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The Vegas Report: Week 8

“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.

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