By Micah Roberts
Matt Hasselbeck isn’t the greatest quarterback in the league, but he’s been pretty good in home games this season. The difference of only 1 ½-points between Hasselbeck and Whitehurst seems a quite low, especially when the untested quarterback has to face the Giants front four which has knocked out five quarterbacks this season. A few sports books I talked to said the number was already built in for an injured Hasselbeck and the move came from some bets and an air adjustment on confirmation that Hasselbeck was indeed out.
To be fair to Whitehurst, since he is such an unknown, he did look pretty good in the Seahawks final pre-season game. He started at Oakland and threw for 210 yards and a touchdown in a 27-24 loss. But that is pre-season, a completely different realm we’re talking about now. He’s had all week to practice with the first string and knows the playbook well, but he’s also had all week to watch lots of film and see what the Giants lineman can do all by themselves, without blitzes. It probably doesn't make him rest any easier watching the film of five quarterbacks knocked out either.
It’s looks to me like there is some value with the Giants here laying a touchdown.
The Patriots opened 5 ½-point favorites at Cleveland and has been against to 4 ½. The Browns are coming off a bye following their huge win at New Orleans while the Patriots have the best record in football. The Sharps were the first to hit this one as well.
The Saints, meanwhile, come off a big win in the Superdome against the Steelers, a win the team really needed to prove to themselves they are still a very good football team after losing to the Browns. They opened 7-point favorites at Carolina and have been bet against dropping the line -6 ½. To show how drastically the rating and perception of the Saints have changed, The Saints were -13 at home against the Panthers in week 4, a game the Saints barely won 16-14. Many bettors who play the favorites keep waiting for the Saints team from last year to reappear. They thought they were back after scoring 31 points at Tampa Bay in week 6, but that remains their highest output of the season. The last two weeks, the Saints have scored only 17 and 20 points and are 3-5 against the spread this season. It’s tough taking a very bad team with the Panthers, but the Saints have been prone to playing to their opponents level all season.
The Colts, fresh off their Monday night, win get no love in Philly this week as the Eagles opened up a 1-point favorite and have been bet up to -3 (EV). Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson are both going to play which makes them come in fully loaded, but I still can’t get over what Kerry Collins and Kenny Britt did to the Eagles defense two weeks ago. Britt went for 225 yards and three touchdowns in a track meet against the Eagles secondary. What’s Peyton Manning going to do to them? He gets Austin Collie back this week and has another weapon in Anthony Gonzalez back with one game under his belt. Can Michael Vick just turn it on again after being out so long?
Derek Anderson was named the starting quarterback for Arizona in their game at Minnesota this week. The Vikings opened as a 9-point favorite and are currently sitting at -7 ½, but the moves came from bets and not just occurances from the past week forcing adjustments. Randy Moss is gone and Anderson was named the starter Monday. The combination of the two may have been what the Sharps were looking at when they forced the move taking +9, +8 1/2 & +8. That, and also that the Viking just aren't good to be laying a touchdown or more to anyone.
The Dolphins are 4-0 on the road and travel to Baltimore where the Ravens were installed a 6-point favorite. Dolphins money has come in dropping the line a half-point to -5 ½.
The Steelers got a little action for their Monday night game at the train wreck in Cincinnati opening as a 5 ½-point favorite and moving to -6. We know the Bengals have talent, but they might be the worst coached team in football outside of the Cowboys. Because the game is in prime time and the spotlight is on Cincinnati, we might actually see players like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens step up big because limelight seems to be the only thing that gets those two going.
Not to take anything away from what Tampa Bay has done, because it has been an amazing run, but their record has come at the expense of the Browns, Panthers, Bengals, Rams and Cardinals and they were all very close games. The two teams they played that are good teams wiped them out convincingly, Pittsburgh 38-13 and New Orleans 31-6. On the season, they have allowed 27 more points scored on them than they have scored themselves. Yes, they are 5-2, but it looks like another beat down coming.
Had this been last year, the small money would have already helped propel this game to double-digits based on their performances this year. A few books have told me that they actually have more tickets wagered on the Buccaneers than the Falcons, which is insane and shows the current state the small bettors are in .So what looks to be an easy win by a favorite is now treated with apprehension and caution. The underdogs are rolling this year and it’s playing with bettors minds. This was the first game on the board I liked and I didn’t care what the spread was. I feel pretty comfortable about seeing a 17-point route.