One big takeaway from NFL "Schedule Day" is the easy regular season path for the defending Super Bowl champions. The Bucs have the 4th-easiest schedule in 2021 based on the records of their opponents last season (126-145-1, win percentage.465). The Bucs enjoy unrivaled stability, becoming one of the rare defending champs to return all 22 starters from the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay will also have Tom Brady entering his second season with the team, being that much more comfortable with the system and environment. To paint an ever rosier picture, the Bucs will be facing two of the weakest divisions in the NFL this season: the NFC South and NFC East.
Why does this matter to bettors? Because the Bucs' season win total is set at 11.5 and the over is juiced up to -120 (odds via BetMGM). This signals some liability and respected money on the over, with a possible rise to 12 in the coming months leading to Week 1.
Here is the full Bucs schedule.
The hardest games would likely be at the Rams, at the Patriots, at the Colts and vs the Bills. Maybe the Bucs split with the Saints. Even if Tampa loses all five of those games, they still go 12-5. For these reasons, the over 11.5 seems highly intriguing.
Now it's on to Fade the Public Friday where we have a loaded betting menu filled with 16 MLB games, 8 NBA games and one NHL game. For an updated breakdown of Friday's action, including the top line moves, systems plays and sharp contrarian bets, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 1 p.m. ET. I will be joining Patrick Meagher and Michael Lombardi on The Lombardi Line at 1:30 p.m. ET to offer a market update. I'll also be on Rush Hour with Danny Burke at 7 p.m. ET to update some late night moves.
In the meantime, let's discuss a trio of MLB games receiving notable sharp action today...
Remember to check the VSiN Betting Splits page every day for money and ticket counts so you can tell who the public is betting on
7:37 p.m. ET: Philadelphia Phillies (20-18) at Toronto Blue Jays (20-16)
Both of these Interleague foes enter on a hot streak. The Phillies are 7-3 over their last ten and just took two of three on the road at Washington. Meanwhile, the Jays just swept the Braves on the road and are now 6-2 over their last eight games. In tonight's series opener, the Phillies hand the ball to righty Vince Velasquez (1-0, 4.18 ERA) and the Jays counter with lefty Steven Matz (5-2, 4.86 ERA). This line opened with Toronto listed as a moderate -130 home favorite and the Phillies a + 120 road dog. Respected money has steamed the streaking Jays, driving Toronto up from -130 to -140. Some shops are even higher at -145. So far this season, teams in Interleague play receiving line movement in their favor have gone 36-26 (58.1%). The Jays are + 34 in run differential this season. The Phillies are -5. The Jays are 7-4 at home and the Phillies are 7-12 on the road. We could also be looking at a higher-scoring game. The total opened at a high 10.5 and the over is juiced to -120, hinting at a possible rise up to 11. The forecast calls for low 80s with 10-15 MPH winds blowing out to right.
8:10 p.m. ET: Texas Rangers (18-21) at Houston Astros (21-17)
The Astros snuck by the Rangers 4-3 in 11-innings last night, cashing as -200 home favorites. The Rangers have now dropped three straight. The Astros have now won three straight. In tonight's rematch, the Rangers send out lefty Wes Benjamin (0-1. 4.76 ERA) and the Astros give the nod to veteran righty Zack Greinke (2-1, 4.23 ERA). This line opened with Houston listed as a hefty -200 home favorite and Texas a + 180 road dog. Despite the expensive price, pros are backing Houston, which has steamed the Astros up from -200 to -220. Teams coming off a win receiving 15-cents of steam or more have gone 49-35 (58%) this season. Big favorites -200 or more coming off a win are 18-7 (72%). The Rangers are just 6-16 against right handed starting pitchers this year. Houston is + 45 in run differential. The Rangers are -9. Houston is 12-9 at home. Texas is 9-11 on the road. The Astros are 10-10 against lefties this season but have gone 97-54 (64%) against lefties since 2018.
10:10 p.m. ET: St. Louis Cardinals (23-15) at San Diego Padres (21-17)
This non-division showdown features two of the top four teams in the National League. The Cardinals lead the NL Central and just took two of three at Milwaukee. St. Louis is now 5-1 over their last six games. On the flip side, the Padres are second in the NL West behind the Giants and just took two of three at home from the Rockies. In tonight's series opener, the Cardinals start righty Johan Oviedo (0-1, 4.61 ERA) and the Padres trot out fellow righty Joe Musgrove (2-4, 3.00 ERA). This line opened with the Padres listed as a -150 home favorite and the Cardinals a + 140 road dog. The public is split and doesn't know who to back. But wiseguys seem to be leaning Padres as we've seen San Diego move from -150 to 165. Teams receiving 10-cents of steam or more in a non-division game are 51-33 (61%) this season. Sweet spot non-division favorites between -150 to -175 are 30-17 (64%). The Padres also have value as a favorite with a low total. With fewer expected runs scored, they are more likely to come from the "better" team. San Diego also has a one-day rest advantage as they last played on Wednesday and the Cardinals played yesterday.