Andrews: Inside the betting action for NFL Week 17

January 1, 2022 09:29 PM

Bookmaking challenges in the NFL continued this week as key players were dealing with injuries or covid protocols. Even as late as Friday morning, Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings was scratched after testing positive. New Year’s Week is always busy enough in sportsbooks without having to worry about all that. 

No early games this week in the NFL. All are either Sunday or Monday night. Let’s go through the matchups in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules. 

Sunday, Jan. 2

Las Vegas at Indianapolis (-7, 44.5)

For now, we’re assuming Carson Wentz will play quarterback for the Colts. He tested positive for covid early enough in the week that there’s time to get cleared. I opened this game Indianapolis -7 and the first bet was on the favorite, so we went to Indy -7.5. Raiders money then came in from a couple different sharps and it turns out they were seconds ahead of the Wentz news breaking. I had the game off the board midweek, before going back up at Indy -6.5 Thursday. Colts money drove that to my current line of -7. If backup QB Sam Ehlinger is announced as the Indy starter, I believe the line would drop to around Colts -2. My opening total of 46 was bet Under before the game went off the board. I re-opened 44.5. No action yet. If Wentz is a scratch, I’d expect a drop to around 42. 

NY Giants at Chicago (-6, 37.5)

Currently a good chance for very cold, snowy, windy weather. Be sure you watch forecasts all weekend. I opened Chicago -6.5. The Giants have been getting early sharp money all season and no exception here, as I’m down to Chicago -6. Very little interest from the public on either the side, or my opening total of 37.5. I would expect the wiseguys to bet dog and Under if that messy forecast holds. 

Tampa Bay (-13.5, 45.5) at NY Jets

Likely to be windy here too, but not nearly as cold as Chicago at kickoff. I haven’t moved off my opener of Tampa Bay -13.5 and I’m writing even business. Public is on the favorite, wiseguys on the dog (as usual). I took a decent-sized bet on Under my opening total of 46 and I’m currently at 45.5. In most NFL weeks, I’d be talking about ML parlays involving big favorites to win straight up. We have a lot of big favorites this week. But, recreational bettors have been focused on the bowls these past few days. Nothing to report so far regarding teasers or moneyline parlays. 

Atlanta at Buffalo  (-14.5, 44.5)

A lot of cold-weather spots on the schedule Sunday, so things could get interesting in a few cities. Right now, there is an 80 percent chance of snow in this one, with winds in the 15-20 mph range. That’s not as crazy as the Monday nighter vs. New England. But, it’s hard to ask a Southern dome team to thrive in these conditions. Good two-way play at my opener of -14.5. Again, public is laying the favorite, while wiseguys are taking a big dog in what could be tough scoring conditions. My opening total of 45 was bet down to 44.5. Another game where the total could drop Sunday morning once weather expectations are more certain. (Keep in mind that sharps pay the most attention to WIND rather than precipitation.) 

Arizona at Dallas (-6, 51.5)

I keep hearing about how great Dallas plays at home. Did everyone forget the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Raiders already? My opening line of Dallas -5.5 was bet up to -6. I’m still taking mostly Cowboys money at -6. I expect the Cowboys to be a popular choice for the public in teasers and moneyline parlays come Sunday. As I mentioned earlier, recreational bettors are focused on the colleges so far this week. I opened the total at 49.5. Sharps bet Over 49.5, Over 50 and Over 50.5, so I went straight to 51.5, yet I’m still taking Over bets. Almost nothing on the Under so far. The last two Dallas home games landed on 70 and 69 points. Sportsbooks will probably be hoping that inconsistency returns to the Cowboys’ offense. I expect a huge handle here. Game has been time-changed to the late-afternoon TV window.

Carolina at New Orleans (-6.5, 37.5)

We didn’t put up a line until we knew who would play quarterback for the Saints. Looks like it will be Taysom Hill going up against Sam Darnold of the Panthers. Very little action so far. Nobody wants to bet Darnold the way he’s been playing. Tough to lay close to a TD with the low-scoring Saints. No action yet on my low Over/Under of 37.5. 

Philadelphia (-4, 45) at Washington

I opened Philadelphia -4 and sharps took the home divisional dog pretty aggressively, so I dropped to Philadelphia -3.5. Eagles money lifted it back up to -4. I see some -4.5’s at other stores. I’m comfortable at -4 because we took so much early Washington action. Sharps bet Under my opening total of 46.5, then again at 45.5. I’m still taking mostly Under bets at my current line of 45. Chance of rain and wind at some point Sunday. Depends on when a cold front blows through the region. 

Kansas City (-4.5, 50.5) at Cincinnati

Terrific betting game. Haven’t moved off my opener of Kansas City -4.5. I’m writing a lot of business both ways. Not really a sharp/public divide here. I see -5’s out there. I’m happy at -4.5. based on our current splits. My opening total of 49 was bet directly to 50, and then directly to 51 (I skipped 49.5 and 50.5). I have been getting some Under bets, but I give extra respect to sharp Over bets. I decided to drop back to 50.5 Friday morning. Check the weather here too. Probably windy with a chance of rain. Should have a playoff atmosphere. 

Jacksonville at New England (-16.5, 41.5)

You wouldn’t believe how much business I’ve been writing in this game. I opened Patriots -16 and I honestly wasn’t expecting much action at such a high price. First bet was a big one on the underdog Jags, so I dropped straight to Patriots -15. But, a big bet on the hosts pushed the number back to -16. Sharp interest at that price nudged it higher to -16.5. Just a little bit of play on my opening total of 41.5. No reason to move yet. Conditions should be breezy, and could be rainy. Might as well lock your TV on The Weather Channel Sunday morning. 

Miami at Tennessee (-3.5, 40)

A lot of business on this game too. I opened Titans -3.5 and sharps took the dog after Miami covered again this past Monday night vs. New Orleans. Tennessee money came in on the key number. I also took a big moneyline bet on Tennessee -160. I’m currently at Tennessee -175/Miami + 155. I opened the total at 41.5. I dropped to 41, and then a full point to 40. Six of Miami’s last eight games have gone Under. Tennessee’s last three have landed on 37, 32 and 20. Another potential weather game. Similar to Washington in that conditions will depend on when a cold front comes through the early session. A chance for rain and wind. A good week to remember that sharps will tell you what the weather will be with their Over/Under betting. 

Denver at LA Chargers (-6.5, 45)

No reason to worry about weather here. My opener of Chargers -5.5 was bet up to -6, and then to -6.5. I have some Broncos money in the mix too, so I’m not strung out on the Chargers. I see some -7s popping up. I won’t go to the key number until I take more bets on LA. Very little action on my opening total of 45. 

Houston at San Francisco (-12, 44)

Jimmy Garoppolo keeps saying he’ll start Sunday despite a badly injured thumb, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Trey Lance gets the nod. I opened San Francisco -14. Sharps took that, so I dropped to -13. Houston money kept coming in from wiseguys, so I dropped to -12. That’s clearly an expectation that Garappolo will at least be hindered if he does start. An interesting wager to report. I took a big moneyline bet on Houston + 575 to win outright. That might seem crazy to you. But, there are “Survivor” contests in play where hedging a bit on Houston is smart protection for a “Survivor” pick on San Francisco. The sharpest contest players figure out how to profit even if they don’t win a monster check. My opening total of 45.5 has been bet down to 45, and now 44. 

Detroit at Seattle (-7.5, 41.5)

A weird one because of Jared Goff’s status for Detroit. For now, he’s doubtful. Earlier in the week, my opening line of Seattle -7 was bet down to -6.5. With Goff likely out, I’m at Seattle -7.5, even though the Seahawks lost to the Bears last week. I haven’t taken many teaser bets yet this week. But, Seattle may show up Sunday on a lot of 6-point teasers because that would cross both the key numbers of 7 and 3. My opening total of 42.5 is down to 41.5 with Goff ruled out. We won’t have a replay of last Sunday’s snowstorm off Puget Sound. But, it is supposed to be rainy and windy for this one. 

LA Rams (-5.5, 46) at Baltimore

I opened Rams -3.5 on the assumption that Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson would be able to play. Sharps laid that number with LA. After seeing footage of Jackson limping badly in practice, I went to Rams -4.5. Money continued to show after that, so I’m at Rams -5.5 now. Backup Ravens QB Tyler Huntley got the money vs. Green Bay two weeks ago. But, he’s still not the same quality as a healthy Jackson. The line has adjusted to account for that. My opening total of 46.5 is down to 46. Note that the same cold front bearing down on Washington and Nashville is headed here. Chance for rain and wind. Be aware that this has been time-changed to the early TV window. It’s a 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. in Vegas) start even though the game appears late in the Nevada rotation. 

Minnesota at Green Bay (-6.5, 43.5)

Kirk Cousins was ruled out Friday morning after a positive covid test. Earlier in the week, my opener of Green Bay -7 was bet down to -6.5. Sharps don’t seem to be buying Green Bay as a true championship threat based on wiseguy betting the last two home games (vs. Cleveland and Minnesota). When Cousins was scratched, I moved the line to Green Bay -13. Very little play at the new spread as I’m writing. But, this is the Sunday night game on NBC. The public will find a way to get involved before kickoff. (I can guarantee they’ll have to pay a premium to bet the Packers!). My opening total of 48.5 was bet down to 48 and 47.5. With Cousins out, I reopened at 43.5. Frigid temperatures will be in the single digits.


Monday, Jan. 3

Cleveland (-3.5, 40.5) at Pittsburgh

Ben Roethlisberger’s last home game. I’m a huge Steelers fan. I’m sure it will hit me Monday when that’s the only football game on the card. For now, it’s all business. I opened Cleveland -3 and sharps bet the favorite, driving me to Cleveland -3.5. I’ve been writing Pittsburgh tickets with the hook. This is one of those games where most sportsbooks will stick on the key number while adjusting their vigorish. All NFL team side bets are 11/10 here at the South Point. So, I’ll have the best price either way…at Cleveland -3 or Pittsburgh + 3.5. This will generate a big handle for us. Then, I’ll have to dodge a 3 Monday night (which would mean Cleveland money pushes, Pittsburgh money wins, so not good for a sportsbook!). Good two-way play so far at my opening total of 40.5. Early forecast suggests weather won’t be an issue. 

My next market report will go up seven days from now for Week 18 in the NFL. All regular season finales will be played Sunday January 9. Soon after, I’ll have a special expanded look at the college football National Championship game before it kicks off Monday night January 10. 

Thanks to all of you who have been reading these updates through the college and pro campaigns of 2021. Response and feedback have been fantastic. It’s been my privilege teaching you the ins and outs of the sports betting marketplace from my position right behind the counter at the South Point. NFL coverage will continue through the Super Bowl.

Happy New Year! Please celebrate safely.

Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.

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