Tough start to the week for sportsbooks. We had a huge handle on Thursday night’s Rams/Seahawks game, and unfortunately for us, we lost! That was a day with favorites winning/covering all five football and baseball matchups. The public loves betting favorites. They’ll have some extra pocket money heading into the weekend.
Don’t cry for bookmakers. We get the best of it over the long run.
Here’s a look at early betting for NFL Week 5 action. As always, games are presented in Nevada Rotation order so you can make notes on your schedules.
Sunday, Oct. 10
Atlanta (-3, 45) vs. NY Jets (in London)
Remember, this is an early start overseas. Kickoff is at 9:30 a.m. ET, 6:30 a.m. here in Las Vegas. If you want to bet the game, take care of business before you go to bed Saturday night. I opened Atlanta -3. I took some early Atlanta money when other stores were at 3.5. But sentiment has clearly changed. Sharps bet the Jets + 3.5 wherever they saw it, and are now taking + 3. I’m almost certain I’m going to wind up at 2.5 on this game. Sharps bet Over my opening total of 44, and Over 45 after a move. I went to 46, and money started coming in on the Under. I’m at 45 now. Pretty good two-way action … but most of it just above or just below my current line. I won’t want to see the game land 45 Sunday morning.
Miami at Tampa Bay (-10, 48)
Sharps took Miami at my opener of 10.5, so I dropped to 10. Not much action either way at that line. The public is definitely betting Tampa Bay in parlays and teasers. For many recreational bettors, if a line “seems too high” on a favorite, they’ll just tease it down to something that’s easier to cover. Not a strategy I advise (unless you cross both the 3 and the 7 with your move). Also common for the public to put all the big favorites in money line parlays to win straight up. They figure there’s no way any of the high chalk can lose. Some weeks those parlays hit. Sportsbooks are happy to take such bets because the NFL is a league of upsets. My opening total of 47.5 was bet up to 48.
Philadelphia at Carolina (-3, 45)
I opened Carolina -4. Betting has been influenced by news reports on Christian McCaffrey’s status. As the Panthers made it more clear they weren’t going to rush him back, sharps have been playing the dog. Sharps have the Eagles at + 4 and + 3.5. I’m at 3 right now. I’ve taken some buy back on Carolina -3, but not enough to move the line. My opening total of 45 hasn’t budged. I’ve taken some play on the Over, but nothing significant.
New Orleans (-2, 43.5) at Washington
I opened the Saints -1. Sharps laid -1, then laid -1.5. Moving to Saints -2 slowed them down, but I’m not getting much buyback on Washington yet. It will probably take at least 2.5 for the dog to get some play as a team side. Sharps who like the dog are more likely to just move the line up to + 8 in two-team teasers. The public doesn’t like moving short dogs up. Sharps do, particularly in games with low totals where points are more at a premium. My opening total of 44.5 was bet down to 44 and 43.5. Under money stopped at 43.5. Nobody’s betting Over yet. Saints games have landed on 41, 33, 41 and 42 in regulation.
Tennessee (-4.5, 48.5) at Jacksonville
I opened Tennessee -4.5 when most shops were at -4. First bet I took was on Jacksonville at that stray number. I joined the market at 4, and nobody’s been betting Jacksonville since. I’m getting money on Tennessee at -4, and now at -4.5. Tough for casual fans to bet either team. Jacksonville is making the wrong kind of headlines. Tennessee just cost the public a fortune with that outright loss to the New York Jets last week. Tennessee was very popular in teasers and money-line parlays. All lost. The public will hold a grudge after a result like that. My opening total of 48.5 has taken a little bit of action both ways.
Detroit at Minnesota (-10, 49.5)
This will be one of our biggest decisions this week. Sharps bet my opener of Minnesota -7.5. They laid -8, I went straight to -9 and they laid that. Some kept betting even at -9.5. I’m at -10 right now, with nothing yet coming back the other way. Minnesota’s also popular with the public in money line parlays. I’ll have to hope the version of the Lions that played tough against Baltimore shows up. My opening total of 49 got bet up to 49.5.
Denver (-1, 39.5) at Pittsburgh
Almost all Denver money, even before news broke Friday that Teddy Bridgewater will start at QB for the Broncos. I opened Pittsburgh -1. I’m now at Denver -1. Some Pittsburgh money is finally starting to show as I write this. As a longtime Steelers fan, I have to admit it’s painful to watch them play right now. I’m not totally shocked, but the playcalling looks awful. They keep throwing short and hoping the receiver can break free and move the chains. Even on fourth down! I opened the total at 40.5. They bet me Under that, and Under 40. I’m at 39.5 right now. This is one of two totals in the 30’s this week. First time we’ve been below 40 all season.
Green Bay (-3, 50.5) at Cincinnati
This is an interesting one. I opened Green Bay -3.5. Sharps took the underdog hard. I’m at 3 right now. Writing pretty decent two-way action on the key number. But I see 2.5 with juice elsewhere in the market. I have a feeling this one will drop. Sharps see Cincinnati as a really live dog at + 3 or better. The public may not want to lay points with Green Bay on the road against a well-rested host. My opening total of 49.5 was bet all the way up to 51. After taking some Under bets I dropped back to 50.5. Two-way action … but with most of the money at Over 49.5 and 50, or Under 51.
New England (-9, 39.5) at Houston
This is the other game with a total in the 30’s, along with Denver/Pittsburgh. Opened at 39.5 and hasn’t moved. On the team side, I opened New England -9.5. Sharps took Houston + 9.5, with a few buying it up to + 10 (which costs -120 here at the South Point). I’m now at Pats -9 without much coming back on the favorite. Though, I do have a lot of teaser action on New England. Another game where the chalk seemed to high to favorite lovers, so they “lowered the line” in teasers. Dangerous here with so many offensive line injuries for the Pats.
Chicago at Las Vegas (-5.5, 44.5)
Before the Raiders played Monday night, I opened Las Vegas -5. Very little play because everyone was focused on the Chargers game (which had the huge handle we expected). I re-opened Las Vegas -5.5. I’m getting pubic money on the Raiders so far. I’m confident sharps would take the Bears if + 6 goes on the board. They might wait until kickoff to see if they can get it. I’m getting a lot of parlay and teaser play on the Raiders. The public loves teasing favorites down to where “they only have to win the game.” Upsets are more common in this price range than many realize. And the Raiders are coming off a short week against a potentially rejuvenated underdog. Could be a very interesting Sunday afternoon at sportsbooks. No action yet on my opening total of 44.5.
Cleveland at LA Chargers (-2, 47)
I opened Chargers -1 before the Monday nighter. I re-opened at -1.5 after they covered so easily against the Raiders. Support for Los Angeles, and news about Baker Mayfield’s torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, helped lift the line to two. No Cleveland money yet. Might take Chargers -2.5, or even -3 for that to come in on straight bets. Another example where sharps with an eye on the dog may just tease the Browns past the three and seven up to + 8. My total opened 49.5 before MNF. I re-opened 48.5 after the Chargers played their fourth Under in a row. Sharps bet me Under 48.5 right away, so I dropped to 47.5. They bet that. So, I’m down to 47. Browns have played to 32 and 21 total points in the two full games since Mayfield’s injury.
NY Giants at Dallas (-7, 52)
Some important money likes the Giants! We saw that last week when sharps took New York + 7.5 and + 7 in New Orleans before an outright upset. Same thing happened this week. I opened Dallas -7.5. Sharps hit the Giants hard, bringing me down to seven. I’m seeing mixed action on that key number. But, it’s sharps on the Giants and recreational bettors on the Cowboys. I also have a lot of public money on Dallas in teasers and money line parlays. This already is, and will continue to be a high-handle game. A lot of ways for the public to bet the Cowboys this week. Wiseguy respect for the other side. My opening total of 51.5 was bet up to 52.
San Francisco at Arizona (-5, 50)
I opened Arizona -5. My first bet came in on the favorite, so I went to -5.5. Sharps took that back, with a few guys buying it up to + 6. Now I’m back to 5. Good two-way action. San Francisco announced Friday afternoon that highly touted rookie Trey Lance would make his first career start in favor of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. I’ll let the market decide whether that’s a positive or a negative for the Niners. Very little action at first on my opening total of 50. My number is now 48.5 after the QB switch.
Buffalo at Kansas City (-3, 57)
It took awhile, but the market eventually convinced me to move off my opener of Kansas City -2.5 to -3. I still think the line should be closer to pick-em. I only give slight home field advantage to the Chiefs after watching their defense struggle at Arrowhead vs. the offenses of Cleveland and the Los Angeles Chargers. I don’t mind rooting for Buffalo at + 2.5 or + 3 with the 11/10 in my favor. I don’t think sportsbooks will go to 3.5 even if the public keeps betting the Chiefs. We saw something similar last week. Sportsbooks took positions against all the Tampa Bay money at New England. Patriots turned out to be the value side. My opening total of 57 has been getting decent two-way action.
Monday October 11
Indianapolis at Baltimore (-7, 46)
No move off my opener of Baltimore -7, but the public is all over the Ravens. They’re laying the 7, sticking the Ravens in pointspread and money-line parlays and playing the obvious teaser down to -1. Teasers like this can be big headaches for sportsbooks. Baltimore -1 (or -1.5/-2 if the line goes up) will be the last leg of this week’s teasers, but then the first leg of next week’s teasers. When next week’s lines are up Monday, bettors will pair Baltimore with any new options that come up. We’ll be rooting for the Colts, needless to say. I have some time to decide if I want to go to 7.5 to bring in sharp play on the underdog. That creates its own headaches because the game landing on seven would push the Baltimore bets, but win at + 7.5 for patient sharps. Nothing happening yet on my opening total of 46.
Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.