Friday, October 8, 2010

Las Vegas Line Moves For Week 5 of the NFL and Week 6 of College Football

By Micah Roberts

I can’t help but think about what happened last year in comparison to this year as a result of an over-reaction by the sports books when they were getting hammered by the favorites as well as bad teams being picked on making the spreads much higher than ratings said they should be. The books had to something because it wasn’t fun getting second-guessed by the suits upstairs who demanded something be done.

I can remember a few years ago where there was a mini-run going by the players and a GM once said with a straight face, “just add on four-points to each game,” as if that would solve all the issues with something as simple as that, and I was like, “why didn’t I think of that.”

Well, there are methods used in adjusting ratings for the NFL that stay pretty consistent year after year. Sometimes, you have to over adjust if the situation arises like the dramatics of the 2009 season, but for the most part, the standard philosophy of being conservative with an initial line and moving the lines as action dictates has been pretty sound.

When I look at few ratings this week and see how drastically they changed from one week to the next, I can’t help but feel there is a huge over reaction to the underdogs right now. True, the dogs are 35-23-3 through four weeks, but the books are making money and subtle changes probably shouldn’t be made to a booking philosophy if not needed.

There are two games that stand out the most this week where the ratings don’t match the spreads and appear to have a major over reaction to what happened in each of their last games.

Prior to the Colts loss at Jacksonville last week, the Colts were looking to be 10-point favorites over the Chiefs this Sunday. Most books opened the Colts either -9 or -8 and the line has dropped to -7 due to bettors taking the Chiefs at perceived value in this new day and age where all the dogs cover.

The books were correct in dropping the initial line and saved them some moves and early liability down the ladder on the way to -7, but could the perception of the Chiefs backers be false. The Colts have only had one home game thus far and dominated the Giants 38-14. In their two road losses, the Texans and Jaguars had to play nearly flawless to come away with a victory. Neither one of the teams could truly stop Manning and there really nothing to suggest that the Colts are any worse than before they lost at Jacksonville, not to mention the Chiefs had a bye which essentially stops all their momentum of a winning attitude from their first three games as outright underdog winners.

I thought I’d never say this about the Colts, the most public team of the last decade, but there is real value in laying only 7-points with them this week.

The other part of the equation is the dramatic switch in ratings based on the Bills getting whacked the Jets 38-14, arguable the best team in football right now. Because of Jacksonville’s inspired play at home last week, we have almost a four-point swing in this game from what it would have been and what it is. The Bills would have been 3-point favorites in their home game against the Jaguars had the results of last week not occurred. When the books opened for business on week 5 action, Jacksonville was a 1-point favorite.

Granted, Jacksonville beating the Colts was a quality win, but the Bills losing at the Jets can also be a quality loss with not much shame in losing to one of the most fluid teams on both sides of the ball in the NFL. I believe we’ll see the Bills team closer to the one that was able to move the at home against the Patriots and we’ll see a Jaguars team that is closer to the one who got buried on the road at San Diego and imploded at home to the Eagles.

The Bills are currently are minus-1 at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book while everyone else has the Jaguars either pick’em or -1.

It’s a tough sell jumping on an 0-4 team's bandwagon, but I’ll be on the Bills as they circle the wagons and also ride the value of the Colts to a nice blowout win.

NFL Line Moves
Other than the Chiefs and Jaguars, it’s been relatively quiet. Caution is abound with the Eagles and Kevin Kolb playing the winless 49ers and who knows what to think of the Bears playing with Todd Collins against Jimmy Clausen at Carolina.

The 49ers are 3-point favorites over the Eagles, a line that would have been Eagles -2 had Michael Vick not been injured or Nate Clements fumbled late against the Falcons. The Panthers are currently a 1½ -point favorite at the Hilton in a game that figures to be ugly which is the total is posted at 33.

The Saints opened as 7-point favorites at Arizona, but once Max Hall was announced as the Cardinals starter, the line dropped a half-point. It wasn’t just Hall, bettors actually took the Cardinals against what looks to be a lucky Saints team that can’t get their offense going. Until seeing the Saints put up more than 25, it’s likely to continue. It took the Saints 16 games to match the futility in scoring they have accomplished in four games this season and one of those was the final game where the rested everyone.

The Jets opened as 3 ½-point favorites for the home Monday night game against the Vikings and have been bet up to -4 even with the Randy Moss trade. Moss will definitely make the Vikings better down the road, but the Jets are clicking right now. Mark Sanchez still doesn’t have an interception and finally gets to utilize Santana Moss this week.

NFL Notes
Of all the teams playing this week, only the Chiefs have an unblemished record ATS followed by the Texans, Lions, Rams and Jets at 3-1. To show just how inconsistent, or consistent, the dogs have been in 2010 -- beyond the Chiefs, Rams and Lions who were last years worst -- there are 14 teams playing this week who are 2-2 ATS. Three of last years favorite public teams -- the Cowboys, Saints and Vikings -- have all been losers ATS this year.

College Moves of the Week
Syracuse from +9 ½ to +7 ½ at South Florida
Wake Forest from +6 to +3 ½ against Navy
Tulane from +2 ½ to PK against Army
Louisiana Tech +1 to -2 against Utah State
Arkansas State from -1 ½ to -3 ½ at North Texas

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