Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pro Football Notes: Books Get Back on Track With a Winning Week

Bettors bitten by a pack of live NFL dogs

by Micah Roberts
Gaming Today Las Vegas

One week after having perhaps the worst single day Las Vegas Sports Books have ever seen, the house scooped most of the chips in week 8. As great as the Sunday win may have been, which in some cases was the best of the season thus far, it doesn’t even begin to nibble off the deficit created the previous week.

"We did well for the day," said Lucky’s Sports Book Director Jimmy Vaccaro. "Handle was up across the board and on parlay cards, likely due to the great week the public had last week."

The win was spurred by the public’s intrigue of big games between good teams, but also finally having one of the public’s darlings of the year, the Colts, not cover for only the second time this season while remaining undefeated.

"Our best game of the day was the 49ers covering against the Colts," said Vaccaro. "We also did well with the Dolphins and Eagles decisions. We opened the Eagles at -1½ and Giant money moved it to Giants -2½."

Large money and small money contributed to many of the books’ biggest games of the day and it had to be encouraging for the books to at least be able to root for decent teams like the 49ers and Eagles. Those two games were the foundations of many of the betting public’s parlays and when they went down, so did the risk.

The easy "bet against" games weren’t there either. Tampa Bay and Kansas city had bye weeks and it helped that two of the worst teams in football played against each other. Attempting to pick a side in the Lions-Rams game had to be a tough dilemma for the public, but there was some late action on a side.

"We got a little bit of late money on the Rams when it was announced that Calvin Johnson wouldn’t play," said Vaccaro.

The Rams would go on to win 17-10 late, but it still remained the least bet game of the week

The books also found a way to get some money on bad teams, or at least a couple of them. Both the Raiders and Browns were opened with over-inflated lines as a reaction to the bet against trends.

The Browns were getting 13 in the opener at the Bears, while the Chargers opened as 17½-point home favorites to the Raiders. The Bears closed at 10½ while the Chargers closed at 16.

The Browns looked to be keeping it close, but fell apart late and blowing the cover. The Chargers jumped out to a 21-7 lead and from there played clock management only scoring three more points winning 24-16.

In the Chargers’ case, even though some books didn’t do well with some sharp money, they must be pleased to see a team as bad as the Raiders at least show some fight and compete. The Raiders were still bad, but they are still a professional team playing another. That type of professional pride has been absent this season from too many teams.

There are no polls like in college football, and no one is voting based on margin of victory. For years the books have always been able to rely on the Pro Football line being the most sound of all the sports because of the professional product being placed on the field. Remember the term "On any given Sunday?" If a team was double digits, whoever they were in whatever situation, it usually presented good value.

This week, there is more relief for the books because the Browns, Rams, and Raiders all have byes and there is a full menu of quality teams playing against each other.

Even in the instance of America’s new team, the Saints, they’ll be playing a Panthers team coming off a big win in Arizona which should play into some of the public’s thoughts when deciding what to do, lay the 14 or take the 14.

I would lay 1-6 based on Week 9’s schedule that the books will have one of their better Sundays of the season this week.

In Vince We Trust

The winless Titans turned to Vince Young last week and he responded with solid, conservative execution in the 30-13 win over the Jaguars. Young mixed in the short passes with some timely running and best of all, no turnovers. The Jags also had a tough time getting pressure on Young and recorded no sacks. It also helped that Chris Johnson ran for 228 yards and two monster TD runs.

Stat Line of the Week

Maurice Jones-Drew only carried the ball 8 times Sunday, but on two of them he took it all the way for a 79 and 80-yard TD runs. MJD finished with 177 yards and an average of 22.1. Those type of numbers are reserved solely for old Big-8 conference college super backs like Billy Sims who would play a quarter racking up 35 points against a team like Colorado and then sit while the back-ups got their game on.

Big Play Jackson

DeSean Jackson became just the second player in NFL history with six TDs of at least 50 yards within the first seven games of a season and the first since Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch had six in 1951. His latest was a 54-yard second quarter toss from Donovan McNabb that essentially buried the Giants.

Broncos Party Over?

The public hasn’t been too keen on the Broncos during their run, in fact, they have probably been the Sports Books only friend this season. Betting against Denver finally paid off Sunday when the Ravens beat them down 30-7 in all facets. They looked lost and befuddled coming off their bye which essentially ruined any momentum they had while going 6-0. Monday night they get a visit from Pittsburgh and will be a slight home dog again.

The last time the Steelers were the defending Champs, they rolled into Denver as favorites too and Denver won straight up. This week under the lights against another good opponent with an energized crowd, the Broncos should present great value to win again.

What Now For Favre?

Could it be that Brett Favre’s motivation and drive will be diminished now that he accomplished his two-year goal of sticking it to the Packers? He’s got eight regular season games left along with the playoffs, but no more against the Packers. His hope was all along when the saga started to beat the Packers playing for a hated division opponent and show the entire Packer organization that they made the wrong choice by taking Aaron Rodgers. For some reason, him playing again never seemed about winning the Super Bowl, but rather an agenda of personal revenge against an old employer. If he stays the course, "Who dat" is even going to have trouble hanging with the Vikings.

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