It’s going to be a very interesting NFL weekend for market watchers because the schedule is packed with competitive matchups.
Bad teams are playing each other. That means average and good teams must be playing each other too. As I prepare this weekend report, there’s only one game with a point spread higher than four points!
In most weeks, we know the public will lay chalk with all the big favorites. They’ll also stick them in money line parlays and teasers. Sportsbooks have to root for upsets. Been true for decades. This week, who will people bet?
I’m not worried about handle. The South Point has been as crowded lately as I’ve ever seen it. Jimmy Vaccaro tweeted a picture Thursday showing the two-hour wait for our holiday buffet. The Thanksgiving betting feast lasts all weekend. Which NFL teams will people be taking Sunday and Monday?
For now, I’ll tell you who they’ve been betting so far. Be sure you monitor point spreads up until kickoff to get a further read on market sentiment. This may be the most fascinating weekend all season for watching NFL line movement.
Matchups are presented in Nevada Rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules.
Sunday, Nov. 28
Tennessee at New England (-7,44)
This is it. We start with the biggest point spread on the schedule. I opened New England -6 and my first bet was actually on Tennessee, so I dropped to 5.5. After that, the floodgates opened. Sharps bet Patriots -5.5 and -6. The public kept betting the Pats at -6.5. I’m up to a full 7 now. There is finally some buyback on the Titans + 7. Sharps waited for the key number, knowing Tennessee’s offense has been inconsistent (at best) since superstar running back Derrick Henry was injured. New England is showing up in teasers and money line parlays to win straight up. The trick for the public is finding the right teams to group them with. There aren’t any obvious choices on a card like this. My opening total was bet down from 44.5 to 44.
NY Jets at Houston (-2.5, 44.5)
Basically a “nobody knows they’re playing” game. How could you trust either to perform on demand? Very few bets on the team sides. Yes, the Jets are technically in the teaser window for crossing both the 3 and the 7 in one 6-point move. The public doesn’t like teasing short dogs. We’ve seen this season that sharps will take quality teams or mediocre teams with experienced quarterbacks up from + 2.5 to + 8.5. But, they shy away from inexperienced QB’s (Trevor Siemian of the Saints was an example last week at Philadelphia). The Jets are starting a rookie QB. Sharps aren’t teasing them. My opening total of 44.5 was bet down to 44, then back up to 44.5.
Philadelphia (-3.5, 46) at NY Giants
A well-bet game. I can only imagine the huge handle at New Jersey sportsbooks. Philadelphia has been getting market respect for a few weeks now. For some reason, the Giants have been drawing early-week sharp money all season. I opened Philadelphia -3.5 and early sharp play dropped that to a field goal. Philadelphia then got hit hard at -3. Money has continued to come in on the Eagles at -3.5. Other stores are showing Philadelphia -4 as I write this. I might be there by the time you’re reading. My opening total of 46.5 was bet down to 46. Early forecasts weren’t showing many weather influences in the cold-weather cities this week. Keep an eye on that Sunday. It’s late-November. Anything can happen.
Tampa Bay (-3, 53) at Indianapolis
Another good betting game. A lot of interest in the side and total. I opened Tampa Bay -2 and sharps and the public bet the Bucs up to -2.5 and -3. Now at the key number of 3, the ticket count is still about 4/3 for the Bucs (57% Bucs, 43% Colts). This one might make it to Tampa Bay -3.5. I think sharps would jump in hard on the Colts with the hook. Indianapolis has been playing well lately. My opening total of 51 climbed the ladder to 51.5, 52, 52.5 and now 53. Bettors are expecting a shootout.
Atlanta (-2, 46.5) at Jacksonville
An ugly matchup. But, one that’s been drawing bets. I opened pick-em and sharp action hit Atlanta so hard that I went to -1.5. I took a respected money line bet on Atlanta -125 at that point. So, I moved the spread to Atlanta -2, and the money line to Atlanta -135 (Jacksonville + 115). My opening total of 46.5 stood fast for a while, then got bet down to 46 Friday morning.
Carolina (-2, 42.5) at Miami
I opened pick-em. Carolina followed a similar pathway to Atlanta, but with even bigger bets than the Falcons were drawing. I moved to Carolina -1, -1.5 and now -2. After respected money line bets on the Panthers -125, I moved to -135 (Miami + 115). I should note that both Jaguars and Dolphins join the Jets on the list of “short dog teaser options that sharps are ignoring.” Inexperienced quarterbacks for all three teams. With these last two games, sharps seem very happy with Atlanta and Carolina to win. They’re not getting cute with ugly dogs in teasers. Good two-way play on my opening total of 42.5.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (-3.5, 45)
This one climbed up the ladder, then back down. I opened Cincinnati -3.5 and early action drove the game to -4 and -4.5. Sharp dog lovers have brought it back down to + 4 and + 3.5 Line is back where it started, but with good two-way play at the different prices. My opening total of 45.5 was bet down to 45. Doesn’t look to be weather-related. Remember to keep an eye on forecasts.
LA Chargers (-2.5, 47.5) at Denver
Some good divisional rivalry games today. I opened Chargers -2 and they got bet up to 2.5. I’m still taking Chargers bets. But, I’m hesitant to go all the way to the key number of 3. I’m confident Denver would get hit hard by sharps as a dangerous home dog at that price. Denver is drawing some sharp 6-point teaser interest at + 8.5. I’ll need to take more Chargers bets before considering the leap to LA -3. My opening total of 47 was bet up to 47.5. I see 48 in some spots. But, I’ve been taking Under bets at 47.5. I’m not following the market until I personally take some Over bets at 47.5.
Minnesota at San Francisco (-3.5, 48.5)
I opened Minnesota -3 and was surprised when San Francisco got bet hard. Minnesota has been playing well and matching market respect in recent weeks. The Niners have been bet up to -3.5 at my store. I am taking Vikings bets now with the hook. Most local stores have San Francisco -3 with inflated vigorish (-115, -120). Here at the South Point, all football team side bets are 11/10. So, If I have SF -3, everyone will bet the Niners with me. If I have SF -3.5, everyone bets the Vikings here. Trickier to manage risk that way. But, we’re very proud to be your 11/10 option in Las Vegas. My opening total of 48.5 has drawn split action.
LA Rams (-1, 47) at Green Bay
Is Aaron Rodgers’s foot broken or just a toe? He played well enough last week in a high-scoring loss at Minnesota. I told Gill Alexander on A Numbers Game earlier this week that my ratings would have made the game Green Bay -3, as I have the teams even. But, I’m still giving Green Bay three points for home field advantage. They’ve earned that with their results this season. I was surprised the market was well below that out of the gate. I opened Packers -1 to avoid getting flooded with Rams bets. Those came in anyway. I moved to pick-em, then Rams -1. Wind is in the forecast. Maybe that’s influencing how sharps think the game will play out. My opening total of 49 was bet down to 48.5 and 48. Under money kept coming, so I went straight to 47. No buy back with Overs yet. The move to 47 stopped Under money.
Cleveland at Baltimore (-3.5, 47)
You regulars know I’m a Pittsburgh guy. The AFC North has featured intense rivalries for years, even when some of the teams weren’t very good. This year, four good teams…great divisional action. I opened Baltimore -4.5. Sharps took Cleveland + 4.5 and + 4. I’m down to Baltimore -3.5, writing even business at the new price. A lot of play on the total too. My opener of 46.5 was bet down to 46. But, respected money came in hard on the Over. I went straight to 47.
Monday, Nov. 29
Seattle at Washington (-1, 46.5)
I opened pick-em and sharps took Washington. I’ve been writing pretty even business since moving to Washington -1. My opening total of 46 has been bet up to 46.5. This isn’t the kind of Monday Night matchup (two losing teams) that’s going to draw heavy action during a loaded holiday weekend. Come game day, there will be interest because of what’s at stake. Seattle may be facing the end of the Pete Carroll era. Washington would have little chance of sneaking into the playoffs if a loss dropped its record to 4-7.
Again, this is a GREAT week for market-watchers because there are so many competitive games. You’ll learn a lot about how sharps see the playoff picture by monitoring which contenders are or aren’t getting support. Best of luck with all of your bets. I’ll see you again on Thursday for an in-depth look at sharp betting in college football conference championship games scheduled next Friday and Saturday (including Georgia/Alabama). Can’t wait for those!
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.