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.