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Bengals and Over bettors looking good

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Cincinnati Bengals impress in Thursday night NFL battle with Baltimore. Plus, the latest from the football markets…and the LA Dodgers grab a huge win in St. Louis. Time to close out another great sports betting week in VSiN City.

NFL: Cincinnati starts fast on its way to 2-0
It was 21-0 Bengals before the Ravens remembered they had a game Thursday night. Rest of the evening involved viewers watching Cincinnati grind clock on offense and defense. That makes the box score stats tricky to read. 

Cincinnati (plus 1) 34, Baltimore 23 
Yards-per-Play: Baltimore 5.2, Cincinnati 5.3
Total Yardage: Baltimore 425, Cincinnati 373
Third Down Pct: Baltimore 44%, Cincinnati 38%
Turnovers: Baltimore 3, Cincinnati 0
Rushing Yards: Baltimore 66, Cincinnati 108
Passing Stats: Baltimore 32-55-2-359, Cincinnati 24-42-0-265
TD Drive Lengths: Baltimore 75, Cincinnati 16-80-72

The most important stat was turnovers. Cincinnati played very clean while building a lead and protecting it. Baltimore lost the ball three times, which isn’t uncommon when you have to throw it 55 times! 

Often in the NFL, the final score doesn’t do a good job of expressing what happened on the field. Here, it’s probably better than the stat composite at painting the picture. Joe Flacco had three quarters of “desperation” passing yards against a defense that was ahead by double digits most of the night. Don’t give him credit for passing for 359 yards on the road in a market toss-up. A lot of empty yards in there. 

Still hard to know for sure where these two teams stand in the big picture. That’s way too many incomplete passes for both. Beating Buffalo and Indianapolis in openers may not mean much. Last season, Baltimore went 9-7 with a great turnover differential, Cincinnati went 7-9 with too many miscues. Weaker conference. Doesn’t feel right now that either is “playoff caliber” by what that term usually means. One might reach the postseason anyway because the AFC isn’t particularly top-heavy this season. 

Bengals move to 2-0, Ravens fall to 1-1. 

NFL: How much easier is it to score in 2018?
At the beginning of Thursday night’s telecast, FOX’s Mike Pereira (a friend of VSiN) reported that rules changes could lead to an increase in scoring this season. Raw totals from Week 1 suggest that. But, is that perception warped by that crazy Tampa Bay-New Orleans game that saw 88 points?

A great way to visualize impact is to run scoring sums from low to high…then stack them. If the numbers are mostly the same, with a weird outlier at the end, then scoring across the league didn’t really go up in a meaningful way. But if this year’s stack is higher than last year’s…and the medians are higher…then we’re talking! Bettors should adjust their expectations and models. 

Went back and grabbed the numbers from opening week action in 2017 and 2018. Last season’s openers are on top (medians in parenthesis). Week One scoring sums from 2018 are on the second line.

20-22-26-26-33-36-39-(40-42)-43-45-47-47-55-58-69
24-30-30-35-40-42-46-(47-47)-47-50-51-57-65-66-88

While TB-NO was an outlier, you see fairly consistent rises across the board. We have to note that there were only 8 non-offensive touchdowns in the first week of action in 2017, compared to 12 last week. So, that’s four extra touchdowns (assume about 28 points) sprinkled in the second line. Still. Pretty clear evidence that the world is changing. A “typical” NFL game may center mid the mid 40’s rather than the low 40’s. 

We’ll keep an eye on this in coming weeks. Week 2 has already started with a 67.

NFL: Week 2 “market watch”
Our last look at this weekend’s NFL odds before the weekend. We’ll note changes at the end. Numbers from the South Point.

Sunday
Indianapolis at Washington (-6/48)
Carolina at Atlanta (-5.5/44) 
Minnesota at Green Bay (no line pending status of Rodgers)
LA Chargers (-7.5/43) at Buffalo
Houston (-2.5/44.5) at Tennessee 
Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-4.5/53) 
Miami at NY Jets (-2.5/43)
Philadelphia (-3.5/44) at Tampa Bay 
Cleveland at New Orleans (-9/49) 
Arizona at the LA Rams (-13/45.5)
Detroit at San Francisco (-6/48) 
New England (-1.5/45) at Jacksonville
Oakland at Denver (-6/45) 
NY Giants at Dallas (-3/42)

Monday Night
Seattle at Chicago (-3.5/43) 

The Over/Under in Indy/Washington soared 1.5 points to 48. Possibly a hint that wind won’t be an issue at that site Sunday. Or, the gradual market realization that scoring is up really applies to a quarterback battle matching Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. Houston went up at -2 vs. Tennessee. Then the South Point took a 100K bet on the Texans! That line’s up to -2.5.

Jets dropped back to -2.5 from -3. We might see that back-and-forth all weekend as sharps like Miami at the full field goal. Philadelphia rose off the key number of three to -3.5. That’s a big move because the three is so important. If there’s no buy back on the Bucs, it’s a real sign that the market is starting to believe more in Nick Foles (long overdue!). New Orleans rose from -8.5 to -9 vs. Cleveland. Makes sense, because a line of -8.5 would create zillions of six-point teasers featuring New Orleans at -2.5. 

Arizona rose from -12.5 to -13. San Francisco rose from -5.5 to -6. We talked about that possibility earlier this week. Tough schedule spot for the Lions, who may not believe in their new head coach. Similar situation with Denver rising from -5.5. to -6 against Oakland, who’s also playing on the road after a home MNF loss. 

College Football: Boston College more dominant at Wake Forest that score makes it seem
If you weren’t able to watch Thursday afternoon’s ACC matchup between Boston College and Wake Forest (time-changed because of the pending arrival of hurricane Florence), you need to know that it was close because of cheap points for the host.

Wake scored an early TD on a blocked punt return. Deacons also had a 13-yard TD drive. Boston College averaged 7.6 yards-per-play while scoring six TD drives of 50 yards or more, four of which were of 75 yards or more. 

Boston College (-6) 41, Wake Forest 34 
Yards-per-Play: B. College 7.6, Wake Forest 4.9
Total Yardage: B. College 524, Wake Forest 512
Third Downs: B. College 38%, Wake Forest 23%
Turnovers: B. College 1, Wake Forest 2
Rushing Yards: B. College 220, Wake Forest 298
Passing Stats: B. College 16-25-0-304, Wake Forest 20-45-2-214
TD Drive Lengths: B. College 52-56-78-78-92-75, Wake Forest 13-81-52

Total yardage was close because Wake Forest ran 100 offensive plays! That was helped by a 6 of 7 mark on fourth down tries. Wake was feisty, but was the inferior team. Market respect for Boston College seems justified so far during a 3-0 start. Wake Forest falls to 2-1. 

College Football: “market watch” for marquee matchups
Last look at some of Saturday’s top TV games. Again, we’ll use kickoff order here rather than Nevada Rotation order so you can map out your viewing plans. 

Saturday’s Featured Games (all times Eastern)
Vanderbilt at #8 Notre Dame (-14/52) (2:30 p.m. on NBC)
#17 Boise State at #24 Oklahoma State (-2/63.5) (3:30 p.m. on ESPN)
BYU at #6 Wisconsin (-22/47) (3:30 p.m. on ABC)
#12 LSU at #7 Auburn (-10/45) (3:30 p.m. on CBS)
#1 Alabama (-22/70.5) at Mississippi (7 p.m. on ESPN) 
#4 Ohio State (-13/59) vs. #15 TCU (8 p.m. on ABC) 
#22 USC at Texas (-3.5/48) (8 p.m. on FOX)
#10 Washington (-6.5/47.5) at Utah (10 p.m. on ESPN)

Okie State dropped from -2.5 to -2, more confirmation that sharps see Boise as the better team. Home field is usually worth three…and it’s arguably worth more in Stillwater. Alabama rose from 21.5 to 22. That’s away from a “minor” key number of 21. The public will keep betting Alabama. No resistance yet.  Ohio State dropped a half point to -13. The Over/Under in USC/Texas dropped from 48 to 47. Currently a good chance for rain Saturday night in Austin. Washington came down to 5.5 from 6.5. That’s a tough site for road favorites. 

MLB Thursday: Arizona on the brink of elimination, Dodgers draw first blood in St. Louis
Only two games on the Thursday schedule matching teams in the playoff chase. In the afternoon, Colorado pounded another nail into the Arizona coffin with a blowout win. Diamondbacks are going to need some help to reach October unless they suddenly catch fire. 

Colorado (-120) 10, Arizona 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Arizona 15, Colorado 26
Starting Pitchers: Koch 3 IP, 4 ER, Freeland 6.1 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Arizona 5 IP, 6 ER, Colorado 2.2 IP, 0 ER

Clay Buchholz had been scheduled to throw for Arizona. He had tightness in his elbow, so he was replaced without throwing a pitch. Colorado moves to 81-65. That’s 4.5 games ahead of Arizona’s 77-70. Doesn’t sound insurmountable with 16 and 15 games left. We’ve seen dramatic come-from-behind shockers. But, those usually involve a collapse from the leader. If the Rockies go 8-8 the rest of the way, Arizona has to go 12-3 just to tie them. With the D-backs having lost five of their last six, and 14 of their last 20…hard to be optimistic for the desert dwellers. And that’s before we even factor the Dodgers into the mix. 

LA Dodgers (-190) 9, St. Louis 7
Total Bases Plus Walks: Los Angeles 25, St. Louis 22
Starting Pitchers: Kershaw 6 IP, 3 ER, Gomber 3 IP, 7 ER
Bullpen: Los Angeles 3 IP, 2 ER, St. Louis 6 IP, 2 ER

Both teams clustered their bases well. Should have been more like a 6-5 game based on total bases plus walks. This huge weekend series definitely has a playoff feel to it. Dodgers got their win with Kershaw. Can the rest of the rotation get the job done? LAD moves to 80-67 with the win, 1.5 games behind Colorado in the NL West, three games ahead of Arizona. In the Wildcard race, the Dodgers are now just one game behind St. Louis for the second spot. 

Also Thursday…

*The Chicago Cubs (pick-em) won at Washington 4-3 in 10 innings. This was a make-up game from an earlier postponement. Cubs won it in extra innings on a pseudo bunt with runners on the corners. Moves the Cubs to 85-61. Only question is whether Chicago goes into October as a division winner, or a Wildcard. 

*Oakland (-180) LOST at Baltimore 5-3. Brutal for a league juggernaut to lose an important game to 100-loss team. A’s fall to 89-58, now 1.5 games behind the Yankees for the final Wildcard spot, and 3.5 games behind Houston in the AL West. Baltimore falls to 42-104. O’s must play .500 ball the rest of the way to finish 50-112. 

*Boston (-220) beat Toronto 4-3. Boston keeps rolling past the century mark to 101-46.

Let’s update our pennant race shorthand…

NL East: Atlanta plus 18, Philadelphia plus 3, Washington plus 1
NL Central: Chicago plus 24, Milwaukee plus 21, St. Louis plus 15
NL West: Colorado plus 16, Los Angeles plus 13, Arizona plus 7
NL Wildcards (2 spots): Milwaukee plus 21, St. Louis plus 15, Los Angeles plus 13, Arizona plus 7

AL East: Boston plus 55, New York plus 34
AL Central: Cleveland plus 18
AL West: Houston plus 38, Oakland plus 31
AL Wildcards (2 spots): New York plus 34, Oakland plus 31

This weekend, Dodgers/Cards and Arizona/Houston are the only series matching contenders. Just what Arizona needed! 

South Point 400: VSiN City hopes you have a great weekend in Vegas!
Great to see so many visitors already come by and say hello at our studio by the sports book. Here’s our final look at odds to win Sunday’s South Point 400 (percentage win equivalents in parenthesis)…

South Point 400 
Kevin Harvick 5/2 (29% win equivalent)
Kyle Busch 5/2 (29%) 
Martin Truex Jr. 9/2 (18%)
Kyle Larson 6/1 (14%)
Brad Keselowski 7/1 (13%)
Ryan Blaney 15/1 (6%)
Joey Logano 15/1 (6%)
Erik Jones 15/1 (6%)

Only change from yesterday…some support for Keselowski off his recent successes. Remember that sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge. That’s why the top eight drivers listed already add up to 121%. 

We close the books on another big sports betting week. Hope all of you visiting Vegas for the big race have a great weekend. See you Monday!

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