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Dawg Pound: Sharps turn Browns into favorites in preseason opener

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

August 8, 2018 10:41 PM

Those “Hard Knocks” you heard were sharps pounding the Cleveland Browns! New NFL season, same story. Pro football is back…plus notes on the PGA, MLB, and WNBA right now in VSiN City.

NFL Preseason: Sharps have driven the Browns all the way from plus 3 to minus 1 at the NY Giants!
It was a regular theme on VSiN programming last NFL season. Sharps kept betting the Cleveland Browns, and kept losing. 

So far this summer…more support for the stars of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” though even more aggressively!

Cleveland’s Regular Season Win Total at the South Point is six (Under -130, Over plus 110). That for a team that went 0-16 a year ago, 1-31 the past two seasons. Sharps clearly expect significant improvement…either under recently acquired veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, or #1 draft pick Baker Mayfield. 

And THAT may be what was driving the 4-point move this week in the Browns’ exhibition opener against the NY Giants that will be televised live Thursday night by the NFL Network. New York opened -3 at home, fairly standard for a preseason game. Sharps hit this game so hard the favorite flipped. Cleveland is -1 as of Wednesday evening. QUARTERBACK WAR!

Veteran bettors are always looking for exhibition games where one offense is super-motivated to put points on the board. Quarterback wars create such a scenario because preseason performance will likely determine who’s going to start in September. Cleveland’s offense is much less likely than others this week to focus on timing with vanilla play-calling. Thomas wants to make a statement with at least one TD drive. Mayfield wants to do the same. And, in this case…a potential added boost…veteran backup Drew Stanton should have a chance to make some plays in the second half as the third-teamer. Stanton hasn’t given up on hopes of winning a starting job in the NFL.

For the Giants…new head coach Pat Shurmur knows Eli Manning will be his starting quarterback next month. Davis Webb is likely to be the backup. Rookie Kyle Lauletta out of Richmond probably won’t be asked to do too much when he’s on the field. 

Sharps loved Cleveland getting points. Not yet any interest on NYG plus 1…though there’s plenty of time Thursday for more market developments to occur. Be sure you watch VSiN programming all day for the latest word. 

Other Thursday night point spreads and totals as of publication deadlines…

Carolina at Buffalo (-3/34)
Chicago at Cincinnati (-2.5/36)
Tampa Bay at Miami (-1.5/34)
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (-3/33.5)
New Orleans at Jacksonville (-3/34.5)
LA Rams at Baltimore (-3/36)
Washington at New England (-3/37)
Tennessee at Green Bay (pick-em/35)
Houston at Kansas City (-2.5/34)
Dallas at San Francisco (-3.5/35) (live on NFL Network)
Indianapolis at Seattle (-2/34.5)

Eight teams don’t play until Friday or Saturday. Those numbers…

Friday (both games live on NFL Network)
Atlanta at the NY Jets (-3.5/35)
Detroit at Oakland (-3/36)

Saturday
Minnesota at Denver (-1/34.5) (live on NFL Network)
LA Chargers at Arizona (-2.5/36)

Selections from VSiN analysts and five-year preseason results for all 32 NFL teams are available in this week’s edition of Point Spread Weekly. Click here to subscribe. Pay $249 for a calendar year, and get our College and Pro Football guides included for no additional charge.

PGA Golf: “Wanamaker” bet? Global investors still high on Dustin Johnson, but now more skeptical about Tiger Woods 
One last look at Betfair Exchange odds in advance of golf’s final 2018 major. Live action from Bellerive near St. Louis will have started by the time you read this. To monitor live odds on the exchange, you can click here at any time this weekend. The number you see in blue represents odds to win the tournament. A “20” in blue means the golfer is 19/1 to win (the original stake is included). A “20” in pink means you have to risk $19 to win $1 that the golfer WON’T win the event.

From yesterday’s look…Justin Rose dropped a smidge. He’s now a slightly longer shot than Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler. Some skepticism about Tiger Woods, as you now have to risk $39 to win $1 that he WON’T win the Wanamaker trophy. 

Current Betfair Exchange Prices
Dustin Johnson: risk $1 to earn $8.80…risk $9 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Rory McIlroy: risk $1 to earn $13.50…risk $14 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Justin Thomas: risk $1 to earn $15.50…risk $16 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Jason Day: risk $1 to earn $19…risk $20 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Brooks Koepka: risk $1 to earn $21…risk $22 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Jordan Spieth: risk $1 to earn $25…risk $26 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Rickie Fowler: risk $1 to earn $25…risk $26 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Justin Rose: risk $1 to earn $26…risk $27 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Jon Rahm: risk $1 to earn $29…risk $31 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Tommy Fleetwood: risk $1 to earn $31…risk $33 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Tiger Woods: risk $1 to earn $37…risk $39 to earn $1 that he won’t win
Francesco Molinari: risk $1 to earn $41…risk $43 to earn $1 that he won’t win

We’ll take a look at adjustments after the first round for you in tomorrow’s report. Enjoy Thursday’s golf!

MLB Wednesday: Still choppy waters in a crowded NL sea 
There’s a lot of parity right now in the thick of the NL pennant chase. Though the markets still expect the Cubs and Dodgers to run away from the field…the field just can’t make up its mind about who that’s going to be. Colorado was in position to make a statement but lost two straight at home to Pittsburgh. Philadelphia didn’t convert an opportunity to win a huge road series in Arizona. Washington is still riding the same see-saw it’s been on for weeks. 

Let’s run the numbers from the most important early finishers…

Pittsburgh (plus 110) 4, Colorado 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Pittsburgh 20, Colorado 17
Starting Pitchers: Archer 5 IP, 2 ER, Marquez 6 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Pittsburgh 4 IP, 1 ER, Colorado 3 IP, 0 ER

We wrote Pittsburgh off two days ago…then the Pirates won two straight very important road games. Chris Archer’s energy is a good fit with the young Bucs. Record is 59-56, still on the fringes of relevancy. Colorado has fallen back to 60-54 at a time when there just isn’t much margin for error. The Dodgers come to Denver Thursday to start a HUGE four-game series. 

Arizona (-190) 6, Philadelphia 0 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Philadelphia 6, Arizona 22
Starting Pitchers: Velazquez 4 IP, 4 ER, Corbin 7.1 IP, 0 ER
Bullpen: Philadelphia 4 IP, 2 ER, Arizona 1.2 IP, 0 ER

Arizona takes two of three in the series, thanks to a dramatic rally back in the opener Monday night. Easy win here as the visitor seemed anxious for a day off. Sunny San Diego awaits for a series that doesn’t begin until Friday. Phillies fall to 64-50. Arizona is 64-52…and was VERY happy to see Colorado struggle in its series. D-backs will visit Cincinnati this weekend. 

Atlanta (even) 8, Washington 3 
Total Bases Plus Walks: Atlanta 22, Washington 17
Starting Pitchers: Foltynewicz 5.2 IP, 1 ER, Milone 6 IP, 7 ER
Bullpen: Atlanta 3.1 IP, 0 ER, Washington 3 IP, 0 ER

Atlanta hit three homers, all with runners on base. That’s how an edge of five in TB plus W could swell to an edge of five runs on the scoreboard. 

Disaster for the Nationals. A win in the series opener Tuesday afternoon has been wiped out by a loss as a huge favorite with Scherzer Tuesday night…then a blowout here. Nats fall to 58-56 in a league where something like 88-74 to 90-72 will still probably get the two Wildcard spots (runners-up in all three divisions can reasonably get there). Atlanta is now 62-49, just behind the Phils. Series concludes early Thursday in the nation’s capital. 

Also Wednesday in the National League…St. Louis (-115) beat Miami 7-1 with more solid pitching. Cards now 60-55 on the season after winning six of their last eight games. Milwaukee (-200) beat San Diego 8-4 to move to 66-51 on the season. 

In American League games involving playoff contenders…Seattle (-160) lost another high scoring game at Texas 11-7. Boston (-150) won at Toronto 10-5, Cleveland (-200) beat Minnesota 5-2, the NY Yankees (-270) won at the Chicago White Sox 7-3

One early finisher in Interleague, Kansas City (plus 200) shocked the Chicago Cubs 9-0.

WNBA: Los Angeles and Connecticut earn crucial road wins
We’ll have some time today out outline the playoff picture in further depth. Just two box scores to quickly evaluate first.

Los Angeles (-9.5) 82, New York 81 
2-point Pct: Los Angeles 44%, New York 47%
3-pointers: Los Angeles 12/28, New York 7/16
Free Throws: Los Angeles 12/16, New York 10/12
Rebounds: Los Angeles 31, New York 42
Turnovers: Los Angeles 10, New York 13

Rare good outing for New York. They did fade in the fourth quarter, but not as badly as in other recent losses. LA Sparks continue to yo-yo in a worrisome manner. Candace Parker and crew now 18-11 on the season. Liberty fall to 7-22. 

Connecticut (-2.5) 101 Dallas 92 
2-point Pct: Connecticut 58%, Dallas 55%
3-pointers: Connecticut 6/12, Dallas 10/29
Free Throws: Connecticut 15/19, Dallas 6/10
Rebounds: Connecticut 32, Dallas 34
Turnovers: Connecticut 9, Dallas 13

Another loss for fading Dallas. Misleading final score because Connecticut led by 20 points entering the fourth quarter. New verse of the same Dallas song where Elizabeth Cambage gets her points and shoots well (14 of 21 for 67%) while her teammates don’t guard anyone and aren’t particularly sharp from the field (24 of 59 for 41%). Dallas still two games clear of Las Vegas for the final playoff spot at 14-15. Connecticut is 17-12.

Here are updated standings late in the 34-game season…

NBA Playoff Picture (top eight qualify)
1…Seattle 23-7
2…Atlanta 19-10
3…Los Angeles 18-11
4…Washington 18-11
5…Connecticut 17-12
6…Minnesota 16-13
7…Phoenix 16-14
8…Dallas 14-15
9…Las Vegas 12-17 (currently out)

Get ready for a mix of March Madness and the NBA in the postseason.

*Seeds #1 and #2 don’t have to worry about one-and-done, they’re placed in the semifinals. That’s why LA, Washington, and Connecticut are trying to chase down Atlanta for that #2 seed. Big difference between #2 and #3 in terms of hurdles. 

*Seeds #3 and #4 skip the first round, then host an early survivor. So, there’s also a big difference between #5 and #4. If you finish fifth, you must host a virtual “play-in” game just for the right to be a road team in another play-in game. 

First Round (one game)
#8 at #5
#7 at #6

Second Round (one game)
#3 hosts worst remaining seed
#4 hosts second-worst remaining seed

Semifinals (best 3 of 5)
#1 has home court edge over worst remaining seed
#2 has home court edge over second-worst remaining seed

The semifinal winners play a best 3 of 5 for the WNBA championship.

You can see in the standings that only three games separate seeds #2 through #6! Here’s an update of our “market” Power Ratings through Wednesday night’s point spreads…

87: Seattle 
84: Los Angeles
82: Atlanta, Minnesota, Connecticut, Washington
81: Phoenix
77: Dallas, Las Vegas
75: Chicago
72: New York, Indiana

VSiN News: Another installment of NASCAR special“Gone Racin’” set for Thursday
Don’t forget to join us Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. here in Las Vegas for “Gone Racin.’” Back are Matt Youmans, Brendan Gaughan, Jeff Motley, and Jeff Cogliandro. This special VSiN feature will air every Thursday up through the South Point 400 in September.

Another heads up for a VSiN treat. Dave Tuley has the latest word on college and pro handicapping contests here in Las Vegas. Click here to read all about it

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