Friday, September 10, 2010

NFL Week 1 Las Vegas Line Moves; All Games 6 1/2 Points or Less

By Micah Roberts

I love the NFL schedule this week because it’s filled with parity where no game has a spread higher than -6 ½. Between the games where we have the bad teams playing each other and higher rated teams playing on the road against lesser rated teams, it makes for a nice mix of action and differing opinions. In situations like these, the Las Vegas sportsbooks usually have an edge just because they can chop up all the parlay’s giving them a high overall hold percentage.

However, just because a spread is low, you still can’t stop the perception of the public which generally makes or breaks the sports books weekend. On Sunday, five of the 13 games already have strong public support.

It’s a tough sell telling the public that the Steelers and Eagles are decent plays, despite being at home, with quarterbacks they aren’t comfortable with.

The first week has seen a limited amount of sharp action as far as line movements go because the lines have been up and bet into at most books since April 29. From week two on, we’ll see much more action on Monday’s centered around the key numbers. Every game this week is currently sitting on or around the key numbers of 3, 4, 6 & 7, which is highly unusual; no dead numbers at all this week.

While there hasn’t been a lot of sharp money come in on the NFL games this week, the small action is piling up and has a few teams weighted pretty heavily in ticket counts. Should teams like the Dolphins, Falcons, Colts, Titans, Packers and Cowboys all cover Sunday, it’s going to be a rough week for the house which then leads into a real tough position on Monday with everyone already having the three-teamer of the Ravens, Chargers and the game over tied into Sunday's action.

The few moves that did come in this week was action on the Panthers at +7, the Redskins +4, and the Seahawks at +3. With “3“ being so key, most books have either gone to the Seahawks +3 (-120) or the 49ers -2 ½ (-120). The same situation has occurred with money on the Browns at +3.

I love debating the theory putting added money (-120) on and around the number “3”. While my theory is wrong every five or six years when the “3’s” do land on the number at a high rate, my contention -- which is supported by the numbers -- is that over the long haul a book will fare much better by moving on and off the number at a flat price just because the sheer volume. Juicing out each number which will pad the overall win enough to offset when the “3” does land and the book gets sided. From a competitive standpoint, a book figures to get all the action at their shop at flat money -- increasing volume -- when everyone else is -120, which is essentially a closed sign for many bettors on those type of games.

Last season 15% of all games landed “3” and the year prior it was a low 10%. It is annually the highest percentage of any margin of victory in the NFL, however, not all of those games are won by the favored side and not all of those are games where the spread was “3”.

The one book in Las Vegas who consistently uses flat numbers is the South Point. They currently have Tampa Bay and San Francisco at 2 ½ flat.

On the college side of the board, there have been kinds of moves from the Monday openers. Oklahoma State moved from -10 to -14 against Troy. The move doesn’t stand as strong as some of the others just because it takes less money to move the number since it is an added game with limited wagering compared to the others.

It’s no surprise to see a MAC game be one of the largest movers of the week. Ohio opened a 7-point home favorite to Toledo and the number has jumped all the way to -10.

One of the better games of the week has Florida State visiting Oklahoma with both sharp and public support for the Seminoles after last weeks performance. The Sooners opened a 9-point home favorite and have been pushed down to -6 ½.

Other game that have seen some sharp moves include the sides of Georgia Tech on the road, Army, Kent State, UNLV, Tennessee, San Diego State and UCLA.

The two feature games of the week, Miami-Ohio State and Penn State-Alabama, saw early action on the dogs. According to a few Las Vegas sports book ticket counts, the public loves the Crimson Tide but are a bit skeptical with the Buckeyes.

That's all for now, enjoy all the games and good luck at the betting window.

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