Twas the day before Christmas, but nothing to bet!
After Friday night’s planned Hawaii Bowl featuring Memphis and Hawaii was cancelled because of covid, there were no live events for gamblers to bet on. Basketball and hockey had already scheduled the day off. Sportsbook traffic was very light. But, we still have plenty to talk about in this week’s NFL report because sharps never take a day off.
The wiseguys have been a step ahead of the media with many of this week’s covid developments. Oddsmakers have been playing defense until the dust settles. News was breaking even as I wrote this article, with Indianapolis announcing that high-impact offensive lineman Quenton Nelson would miss Saturday night’s game at Arizona.
Be sure you monitor headlines and point spread adjustments all through the weekend. Let’s see how sharps and the public have been betting this week’s pro football up to this moment. Games are presented in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules.
Saturday, Dec. 25
Cleveland at Green Bay (-7.5, 46)
A highly bet game. Green Bay is a public team, and they’re up first on the card. I opened Green Bay -8 and sharps took the Browns at + 8 and + 7.5. There was an assumption Baker Mayfield will return to action for Cleveland (confirmed as I was writing this article). When I moved to the key number of 7, the public came in hard on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, so I’m back to 7.5 right now. The public is still laying that price with the Pack. Sharps are reinvesting in the Browns. One thing that sharps and the public agree on is that Green Bay makes a lot of sense in 6-point teasers. Teasing down across both the 7 and the 3 is a popular sharp strategy. I’ve taken a lot of teaser bets on the Packers. Cold, but windless conditions shouldn’t be a factor for these upper-Midwest franchises. My opening total of 45.5 was first bet down to 44.5, but it was then bet up to 45, 45.5 and now 46 Friday morning.
Indianapolis at Arizona (-1.5, 49)
Big game. I opened Arizona -1 and my first sharp bet was on the Colts, so I dropped to pick-em. Other sharps laid it back and I returned to -1. When Nelson was ruled out late Friday morning Las Vegas time, I moved to Arizona -1.5. That was quickly bet to -2. The public looked to be slightly favoring the Colts before Nelson was scratched. I wouldn’t be shocked if action slanted even more toward Arizona on game day. Excellent two-way play so far on my opening total of 49. I’m planning to provide a twitter update Saturday (@andrewssports) if the lines move on additional headlines.
Sunday, Dec. 26
Tampa Bay (-10, 43) at Carolina
Carolina’s playing so poorly lately (four straight non-covers), that I opened Tampa Bay -11.5, even after the Bucs suffered some injuries in their loss to the Saints. Sharps took the Panthers + 11.5, + 11 and + 10.5, so I’m down to 10, with Tampa Bay finally getting some play back from the public. Recreational bettors often like teasing double digit favorites down to make the lines seem cheaper, and playing them in moneyline parlays just to win straight up. Tampa Bay burned that strategy last week in the loss to New Orleans. Not seeing any teaser or parlay interest in the Bucs yet this week. My opening total of 45 has been bet down to 44.5, 44 and now 43.
NY Giants at Philadelphia (-10, 40.5)
Not much interest yet from the public. A few sharps took the Giants at my opener of + 10, but not enough for me to move the number. Philadelphia played this past Tuesday, which cut down on betting time for the public. And, the Eagles couldn’t win by more than 10 against shorthanded Washington. Sharps have been betting Under. I dropped my opening total of 42 straight to 41. More wiseguy action has driven the line to 40.5. Winds are supposed to be 10-15 mph, which can wreak havoc in this stadium.
LA Chargers (-11, 46.5) at Houston
Both teams are dealing with covid outbreaks. That could mean more developments between now and kickoff. News broke about the Chargers first. My opening line of LAC -11 was bet down to -10. I took the game off the board, then reopened at -8. Sharps and the public laid -8, -9 and -10 as Houston’s situation became more clear. I’m back where I started at Chargers -11. My opening total of 47.5 was bet down to 46.5 by respected money.
Detroit at Atlanta (-6.5, 42.5)
Jared Goff is out for Detroit. Before that news, I had opened Atlanta -4. Sharps laid the 4. That money, plus covid rumors, pushed me quickly to Atlanta -5.5. When Goff was ruled out, I went straight to Atlanta -6.5. I’ll probably be at -7 eventually. I need to further evaluate our risk at the South Point before bringing that key number into play. Hardly any business at all on my total. I opened 44 and dropped to 42.5 on the Goff news.
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-4.5, 44.5)
I opened Cincinnati -2.5. Sharps laid that and -3, knowing Baltimore had some lingering covid issues and Lamar Jackson was still dealing with an ankle injury. Optimism for Jackson’s return dimmed Friday morning. I moved to Cincinnati -4.5 on that news. My opening total of 44.5 had seen really good two-way action when Jackson was a question mark. We’ll see what the weekend brings. Weather is supposed to be nice, so that’s a non-factor.
LA Rams (-3.5, 48.5) at Minnesota
I opened the Rams -3 and sharps laid that price. And, news broke that Dalvin Cook would miss the game for Minnesota, so I went to Rams -3.5. Pretty even business since the move. My opening total of 49 was bet down to 48.5. But, I still see some 49’s out there. Public betting may drive the number in this marquee matchup higher by kickoff.
Jacksonville at NY Jets (-2, 41.5)
Another covid game. Though, there’s not much star power on either team. So, the drop-off in play quality may not be that much. This is my lowest ticket count of the weekend so far. But, plenty of action from sharps betting value through headline updates. I opened Jets -3. Covid hit them first. Sharps took Jacksonville + 3 and + 2.5. I dropped all the way down to pick-em because the Jets would be missing so many guys. As Jaguars news hit, I went back up to NYJ -1.5 and then -2.5. I’m back at 2 now. Almost no betting on my opening total of 41.5.
Buffalo at New England (-2.5, 43.5)
Looking forward to this one. So far, it’s been the perfect bookmaking game. A lot of play on both teams at my opener of Patriots -2.5. Great two-way play on my opening total of 43.5. No chance for a push on either of those if they stick at their current prices. I should note, though, that sharps don’t love the Patriots or they would have driven the game to the key number of 3. We’ve talked in the past about how to read things “that don’t happen.” New England opened below a key number and wasn’t driven higher. That tells you sharps would come in hard on Buffalo + 3 if the public heavily supported the favorite between now and kickoff. I think we’ll stay at 2.5.
Chicago at Seattle (-6, 42)
Less time for the public to bet this one because Chicago played Monday night, Seattle Tuesday night. I opened Seattle -6.5. A sharp placed a big bet on the Bears Thursday morning, so I dropped to 6. Then, news broke Friday morning that Nick Foles would get the start for Chicago. I’m back to Seattle -6.5. My opening total was 43. I dropped to 42 on the Foles news. I see 41.5’s out there.
Pittsburgh at Kansas City (-7.5, 45)
We’ve been all over the place here because of covid. I opened Kansas City -10.5 and sharps bet it down to 10. Then, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and other Chiefs were ruled out. I took the game off the board for a day. I reopened Kansas City -8. That was bet down to -7.5 by sharps. The public is still taking the Chiefs. And, KC is showing up in a lot of 6-point teasers since going back on the board. My total opened 46.5, dropped as low as 44.5, and is currently at 45.
Denver at Las Vegas (pick-em, 41.5)
My opener of Raiders -1 was bet down to pick-em. I’ve been getting pretty good two-way play at that price. Locals betting on the Raiders have become pretty subdued. If the Silver and Black had been winning, there would have been a bandwagon effect. Instead, the team has been very inconsistent. Even last Monday’s win at Cleveland was a nailbiter against a third-string quarterback. My opening total of 42 was bet down to 41.5.
Washington at Dallas (-10, 47)
A lot of action here. I opened Dallas -10 and I’m currently at Dallas -10. But, it’s been a helluva ride getting back to where I started. My opener was bet up to -10.5 and -11. Washington’s stats were horrible Tuesday in the loss to Philadelphia. But, when it became clear that quarterback Taylor Heinicke would be returning for Washington, sharps jumped in hard. Wiseguys bet Washington + 11, + 10.5 and are still betting them at + 10. Dallas has drawn enough support to stick on the 10. My opening total of 47 hasn’t moved, but has drawn very good two-way action. This will be my most heavily bet game Sunday, with “America’s Team” Dallas playing in a prime-time showcase.
Miami (-2.5, 37.5) at New Orleans
This favorite flipped because Ian Book will be forced to start for New Orleans. I had opened Saints -3. First bet was on the Dolphins from a sharp who got in ahead of the news. I took the game off the board for a while. I reopened pick-em. Sharps took Miami at pick-em, -1 and -1.5 (one of my biggest players laid -1.5). I skipped two and went straight to Miami -2.5. No buy back yet on the home dog. Not much action on the total. I dropped from my opener of 39 down to 38 on the Book news without any bets. Sharps have bet it down to 37.5.
Best of luck with your bets over this holiday weekend! I’ll be back Monday afternoon for my next college football bowl report.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.