Could this be another week were more of the favorites get there? Between the Sunday and Monday games, we have only one game with a spread higher than -10, three games at -6 of higher and eight others that are -1 to -4 ½. At this juncture, when we’re starting to see the cream rise to the top a little more, those eight small favorites could present great value. The oddsmakers are still in the respect mode because of what some of these teams have done earlier this year, but recent revelations should speak louder.
Take the Vikings being only a 1-point favorite at Chicago this week. The Bears rating has obviously slid dramatically since starting the year 3-0, but the line seems to indicate that they are much better than the team that lost back to back home games to Seattle and Washington. The Vikings seem to be on an upswing as the team rallies against their coach Brad Childress, as ridiculous as that may sound.
Jacksonville is another value play laying only 1 ½-points at home against the Texans after opening -1. Between David Garrard coming off a career day at Dallas and the always dangerous Maurice Jones-Drew, they should post up huge numbers against the leagues worst defense. And you’re laying less than a field goal at home?
Another short favorite to look at is the Titans laying 2-points at Miami. Chad Pennington gets the start for Chad Henne, but Las Vegas Sports Consultants Senior Oddsmaker Mike Seba doesn’t necessarily agree that it’s a move for the better.
“Henne was struggling, but he’s still worth about 3-points more than Pennington,“ said Seba. ”I can’t even imagine what Pennington is going to do. It’s clearly a desperate move by Tony Sporano and the Dolphins who have yet to win at home playing in a tough division. The major difference between the two is Henne is much more mobile and has been in tune to live game action all season.”
The Dolphins opened as a pick’em, but has moved to the Titans favored because of the perception of Pennington. The early line Sunday at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book had the Dolphins -2 ½.
How about the Buffalo Bills who opened as 2-point home favorites to the Lions and now sit at -2 ½ after a brief stop at -3 (+105). No Matt Stafford this week as Shaun Hill will take over again.
“Shaun Hill played well while in relief for Matt Stafford this year,” said Seba, “but he’s still 3-points less in the rating differential. The Bills have been competitive and deserve to be favored this week. This may be their best opportunity to win a game.”
The Arizona Cardinals have been a tough team to get a read on. They have virtually no offense, yet seem to get all the bounces on special teams and defense where they have five touchdowns in their first eight games. The Seahawks have been equally befuddling, but are at least consistent with bad play on the road having put in their best, and only, effort at Chicago.
“Matt Hasselbeck is worth 3-points in the rating differential from Charlie Whitehurst, but that’s with a banged up, not even 90% Hasselbeck,” said Seba, “He’d be much more of a difference maker if 100%. If it were Whitehurst again the week, Arizona would be a 6-point favorite easy, maybe higher.”
The Chiefs have been moved from a pick’em at Denver to 1-point favorites, probably because the Broncos defense is beaten consistently by just about everyone. Throw in a good running game and the Broncos appear to have no shot at all.
One of the only small favorites that doesn’t appear to have any value is the Eagles laying -3 (-125) at Washington Monday night, down from the opener of Eagles -3 ½.
“We sent Buccaneers -7 ½, and I made my individual line higher at -8 ½,” said Seba. “ I don’t really understand the Panthers move down to 6 ½. Maybe it’s just Tama Bay themselves who have tended to play close games and haven’t won large in a any game this year and Carolina having a decent defense, but when I look at all the problems with Carolina at the skill positions, I would have a hard time backing them.”
The Cowboys found some takers at +14 against the Giants and the game is down to 13 ½. The coaching change in Dallas isn’t likely to make much of a difference in their play. Jason Garrett and the staff that helped shape Wade Phillips’ weak persona is still there and until that culture and attitude is dramatically changed by a complete overhaul, the virus that infests this group of talented players will remain.
College Football Moves of the Week
- Clemson opened +7 at Florida State, but is now +5 ½ due FSU QB Christian Ponder being questionable due to a sore elbow.
- Georgia opened at +9 ½ at Georgia and has been bet down to +8.
- Central Michigan was getting +15 ½ at Navy and it’s down to +14 due to Navy QB Ricky Dobbs being doubtful due to a concussion.
- Rice opened +6 at Tulane and has been bet down to +4.
- North Carolina was getting +5 at home to Virginia Tech, but it’s down to +3 ½.
- Louisville opened 1-point home favorites to South Florida, but have been bet up to -2 ½ despite Cardinals QB Adam Froman doubtful. Star RB Bilal Powell is still questionable for Louisville as well, but even without both last week, they still managed to win quite easily at Syracuse.
- Louisiana Tech found bettors for the second consecutive week as Tech opened -13 ½ at New Mexico State and are now -15 ½. Last week the move on Tech was against Fresno State that shifted 6 points with Tech losing.
- Tennessee opened 1-point home underdogs against Mississippi, but with Rebels QB Jeremiah Masoli questionable for the game due to a concussion, The Vols are now -2 ½.
- Houston opened a short 1-point home favorite against Tulsa and are now -2 ½.
- Florida International opened +10 at Troy, but are now +8 ½.
- Florida Atlantic opened -6 ½ at home against UL-Lafayette, but the Cajuns will be going with a third string starting QB this week which bumped the line to -9 ½.