Thursday, September 16, 2010

Las Vegas Money Moves for NFL Week 2 & College Football

By Micah Roberts

One of the toughest things a bookmaker has to do is adjust on the fly with the unknown factors of the back-up NFL quarterback. The NFL line is the most sound line in the world of any sport, but when taking a starting quarterback out, the ratings become skewed and un-true to what it probably should be. The limits are cut down to a fraction to what all the other games are and the public dictates what the market price of a line should be.

Because the limits are so small, some sharp bettors can manipulate the market with early money at the low limits and push a price up with hopes that their intended side have limits increased on game day, which most books do. All the information is out there for the bettors and the books, but sometimes the sharps are a little better in their adjusted rating than some of the books.

This week there are three games affected by possibly having a back-up quarterback. A starting quarterback is traditionally worth an automatic 2 to 3-points, but in a situation like at Detroit this week it could be more. Detroit will be without Matt Stafford for up to four weeks and will be using veteran back-up Shaun Hill who was very serviceable as a starter in San Francisco. The Lions play the Eagles who will likely be without Kevin Kolb opening the door for Michael Vick to take over.

The Eagles opened up a 3 ½-point road favorite at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book, one of the few books that doesn‘t circle or limit games. By Tuesday the line was -5 and by Wednesday it was up to -6. The affect has everything to do with Stafford being out and Hill starting.

“I would have made the line Eagles -3 ½ or -4 with Stafford starting,“ said Las Vegas Sports Consultants odds-maker Mike Seba. “There is no adjustment on the Eagles side just because of how good Michael Vick looks in the Eagles offensive game plan.”

Vick looked much better than Kolb in last Sunday’s home loss to the Packers as he rushed for over 100 yards while making some crisp passes down-field and almost lead the Eagles to a game tying touchdown late. You could argue that Vick makes the Eagles rating a notch better than with Kolb in there.

The Chiefs-Browns game has a the duel affect of having starter Jake Delhomme doubtful and the public recently seeing an improved Chiefs team on Monday night beat the favored Chargers. The Hilton originally opened the Browns a 3-point favorite on their Sunday night opening board, but with news of Delhomme and the perception of the Chiefs play, the line fell to -1 ½. The Hilton got a cumulative amount bet by several to equal the limit on the Browns and currently sit at -2 ½.

Seba says the drop off between Delhomme and backup Seneca Wallace is close to two points.

“I don’t like Wallace at all, how does he still have a job, “ said Seba half-jokingly. “To be fair, Wallace won’t make a lot of mistakes but he won’t make many plays either. I recommended on a send out today to make the game a PICK.”

The Panthers game had been off the board until Wednesday because starter Matt Moore suffered concussion symptoms in their loss to the Giants. Moore practiced Wednesday and is hopeful he’ll be cleared to play Sunday. Once news of Moore practicing got out, the Hilton immediately opened the Panthers 3 ½-point favorites to the visiting Buccaneers where it still sits.

Seba believes the line still reflects Moore not being 100% along with having one if his worst days as a starter last week. Moore only completed 14-of-33 passes for 182 yards, a TD and three interceptions against the Giants.

The regular moves of the week involving mostly healthy players has the Ravens currently a 2 ½-point favorite at Cincinnati. The Bengals opened at PICK ’EM on the early line, before the Ravens tough 10-9 win at the Jets. Public support for Ravens and adjustments -- some based on how bad the Bengals looked last week -- have swayed the line. The Bengals swept the entire AFC North last season including two wins against the Ravens. In the Bengals game at New England, they got themselves in a 24-0 hole before they even realized what was going on. There looks to be some value on the Bengals who should come out much quicker with their running game plan in their home opener against a team that had a big emotional Monday night win who is playing on the road in a short week.

On the other side of the coin, the Jets rating and public perception has fallen drastically as they opened on an early line as a 1-point favorite and now find the Patriots a -3 (even) favorite. That’s what trash talking and not backing it up will get you. The Jets 176 yards of total offense led by quarterback Mark Sanchez’ 74 yards of passing and inability to make throws against a Patriots team who would love nothing better than to kick this team while their down has influenced such as surge in movement.

Tom Brady is much like his coach, both are very vindictive and they don’t forget. While the Jets need to run smack to get them fired up, Brady likes to run score board as his smack and in this game, he may just tell some of the Jets where that scoreboard is. This is currently one of the most one-sided bet games of the week and it wouldn’t be surprising to see this game cross over the key number of “3” all the way to 4-points. With the entire football betting nation being swayed so much by last weeks events by these two teams, the sports books are going to have a tough sell on the Jets. However, the Sharps will likely come in at the highest peak on Saturday night or Sunday morning to help balance the books.

Here are some other moves from the week:
The Cowboys have been bet against from -9 to - 7 ½ against the Bears. The Rams have been bet on at Oakland from +4 to +3 ½. The Broncos have been bet from -3 to -3 ½ in their home opener against the Seahawks. The Giants saw some early action at +6 ½ in the Manning-Bowl matchup at Indianapolis. The Colts currently sit as a 5 ½-point favorite.

In the Monday night matchup we have another case of a team perceived bad from their season opener against a team with lots of rest. The 49ers embarrassing 31-6 loss at Seattle has all the folks that bet and lost that game heavily turning against them and jumping on board the Saints band-wagon. Much like the Patriots game, this is a pretty one-sided betting affair with the Saints moving from an opener of -4 to the current number of -6. Six points? In a home opener? On Monday night? From a team whose talent and progression had many believing just five days ago that they would be NFC title contenders with close to 11 wins? It’s only one game of data!

Anyways, the points look pretty solid right now. I can’t see the game going to -7, but since it is an isolated game and everyone is still angry with the 49ers, it is possible. If looking to bet the 49ers, wait until Monday. If looking to bet the Saints, bet today.

College Moves
Only a few games have had significant moves of two points or higher with much of the action coming on Monday and Tuesday. N.C. State was bet from a pick ’em to 2-point home favorites in their Thursday night game against Cincinnati. Maryland has been bet from the opener of -13 to -10 at West Virginia.

Another dud ACC team, Virginia Tech has been bet from -17 to -20 in their home game against East Carolina. People must believe that the Hokies are REALLY mad now after starting 0-2, or rather just losing outright as a 33-point favorite to James Madison.

Another team coming back from an embarrassing loss last week, Minnesota, has been getting some action in their home date with USC. USC opened 14-point favorites and has dropped to -11 ½.

Two teams coming off a huge wins last week face off in Norman this week with Air Force getting early action. Oklahoma opened up a 19-point favorite and has been bet all the way down to -16 ½.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum is listed as questionable for their Saturday night game at the Rose Bowl against 0-2 UCLA. Houston offensive coordinator Jason Phillips said Wednesday they are game planning and preparing as if they were going to have Keenum play. That’s good enough for the books, so the Hilton opened the game Wednesday with Houston a 3-point favorite which is where it currently sits.

Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dasher, the Sun Belt’s top quarterback, has been awaiting a ruling on his suspension which kept the line off the board until Wednesday. The Hilton opened the added board game with MTSU a 4-point favorite at Memphis. The case has been little publicized, but it’s an atrocity what the school and the NCAA are doing to this kid.

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