Sluggishness from the NFL preseason continued as Philadelphia and Atlanta struggled through Thursday night’s 2018 season opener. Key stats…plus sports headlines from Washington to Osaka as we close out another great sports betting week in VSiN City.
NFL: Philly and Foles win again as an underdog
Great that we can start a new season with another ugly Thursday nighter. First, the game was delayed because of foul weather. Then, both teams floundered through a first half without any touchdowns. Then…more penalties…and leg cramps…and penalties…and promos. Atlanta finished the night with 15 penalties!
Philadelphia finished with an 18-12 victory, once again embarrassing betting markets with an upset over a respected opponent. Though, this time, VERY ugly stats!
Philadelphia (plus 1) 18, Atlanta 12
Yards-per-Play: Atlanta 4.6, Philadelphia 3.6
Total Yardage: Atlanta 299, Philadelphia 232
Third Down Pct: Atlanta 27%, Philadelphia 50%
Turnovers: Atlanta 1, Philadelphia 2
Rushing Yards: Atlanta 74, Philadelphia 113
Passing Stats: Atlanta 21-43-1-225, Philadelphia 20-35-1-119
TD Drive Lengths: Atlanta 27, Philadelphia 63-54
Atlanta dominated the first half in terms of moving the ball. But, all the Falcons could get out of it was a 6-3 scoreboard edge (2-1 in field goals). Let’s break yardage down by half.
First Half: Atlanta 162, Philadelphia 58
Second Half: Atlanta 137, Philadelphia 174
Atlanta’s first half advantage led to only a 2-1 edge in field goals. Philadelphia’s ability to finish drives (which we talked about in yesterday’s report…second best in the NFL in red zone TD percentage in 2017) led to a 2-1 edge in touchdowns. That’s the difference.
Nick Foles continued his August woes until those late drives. And, even with them…a ridiculously low total of passing yards. Eagles did win rushing yardage and third downs by impressive margins. Atlanta’s only TD drive was very cheap.
We talked during the summer, here and in the New York Post, about the possibility that offenses could be in a shell this season as they tried to keep their quarterbacks healthy. Neither Ryan nor Foles looked like they were up to regular season speed. A total of 37 incomplete passes from the two…and substandard yards-per-pass-attempt. Defenses are ready to disrupt. Offenses may be less ready to outmaneuver them.
On one hand, you have concerns that defenses may back off because they don’t want to get cheap hit penalties. On the other, nights like this where offenses have trouble executing and avoiding penalties. Dress rehearsals were a dud. This was mostly a dud too. Something we’ll be watching closely Sunday once most of the league is on the field trying to perform at full speed.
Your defending Super Bowl champs move to 1-0 on the season. Atlanta falls to 0-1 in what’s expected to be a tough division. Sharp money that drove this point spread all the way from Philadelphia -4 to Atlanta -1 takes a loss.
NFL: Market Watch
A few line moves of note for the weekend. Let’s start with those (using Thursday night point spreads from the South Point).
*The Over/Under of 45 in Pittsburgh/Cleveland dropped a point to 44. Only a point, but 45 is a common final sum…so a fall from a relatively important number. Last season we told you that you can often tell what the weather forecast is by looking at football Over/Unders. Went to look. A good chance for heavy rain and winds as high as 20 mph. Wind means Unders for sharp totals bettors.
*Minnesota is up to -6.5 from -6 against San Francisco. More and more support for the potent Vikings at a tough home sit. Plus, skepticism about whether or not Jimmy Garappolo is ready to win a big game on the road against a great defense that’s had time to prepare for him.
*Indianapolis fell from -3 to -2.5, so enough support for the Bengals to pull the line down from the key number of three. Let’s see if that bounces back up from Colts money excited about the lower line.
*Baltimore rose from -7 to -7.5 against Buffalo. Important half point because it’s off a key number. The market hates Nathan Peterman. Not a surprise. No way the public is going to bet him.
Conveniently, those are the first four games on the schedule. Nothing much after that. We’ll pick up our listing there…
Rest of Sunday
Jacksonville (-3/43) at the NY Giants
Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-9.5/49.5)
Houston at New England (-6.5/51)
Tennessee (-1/45) at Miami
Kansas City at LA Chargers (-3.5/48)
Seattle at Denver (-3/42.5)
Dallas at Carolina (-3/42.5)
Washington at Arizona (-1/43.5)
Chicago at Green Bay (-7.5/47.5)
NY Jets at Detroit (-6.5/44.5)
LA Rams (-4/49) at Oakland
Of course, this is our last VSiN City report before Sunday’s games will be played. Be sure you watch VSiN programming all weekend for the latest from Las Vegas.
NFL: Estimated Market Power Ratings
We haven’t updated these since Jonathan Von Tobel and I put together our first set back during the baseball All-Star break. Consulted with JVT Thursday night to lock in these for the first week.
These are VSiN’s estimate of how “the market” has teams rated based on current point spreads. We use a standard three points for home field advantage. Then, build a scale trying to determine where each couplet would fit on a scale. Atlanta was -1 at Philadelphia Thursday night. That means the Falcons should be FOUR better on our scale. We have to decide if that means 85 and 81, 84 and 80, 83 and 79, etc…
Typically, on this scale, 85 and up is championship caliber…80 and up is playoff caliber…78-79 is close to or just below .500 caliber. As the season progresses, more teams could rise up to championship level (the Eagles with Wentz when he’s back). The “bottom” of the league should sink into the lower 70’s once bad teams get exposed, suffer key injuries, or give up hope.
85: New England, LA Rams
84: Minnesota, Atlanta
83: Green Bay, New Orleans, Jacksonville
82: Pittsburgh (no Bell), Houston, LA Chargers
81: San Francisco, Kansas City, Dallas, Carolina
80: Philadelphia (with Foles), Denver, Seattle, Tennessee
79: Washington, Detroit, Baltimore
78: Oakland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Tampa Bay (with Winston)
77: NY Giants, Arizona
76: Tampa Bay (with Fitzpatrick), Miami, NY Jets
75: Buffalo (with Peterman), Cleveland
That’s our best good-faith effort. Probably pretty close already in terms of reading “the market.” Could turn out the market has misread several teams…and will adjust through September. We’re guessing the Eagles will get more respect next week.
Once the season begins, we’ll probably run these on Wednesdays or Thursdays, giving early week lines time to settle.
College Football: “Market watch” for marquee matchups
A couple of games to talk about since we looked at these yesterday…
*Mississippi State is down from -9 to -8 at Kansas State. Tough spot for road favorites. And, Kansas State is one of those teams that has trouble impressing as chalk, but can create havoc for opposing favorites.
*Stanford is up from -5 to -6 at home against USC. Odd to see a line moving against USC in Nevada. But, Stanford is excellent this season….and USC didn’t impress TV viewers in their win over UNLV last week.
We’ll run the full list of TV games again just so you can have the networks handy as you make your viewing plans.
Saturday’s Featured Games (all times Eastern)
Mississippi State (-8/53) at Kansas State (noon on ESPN)
Arizona at Houston (-3.5/71) (noon on ABC)
UCLA at Oklahoma (-30/64) (1 p.m. ET on FOX)
Georgia (-10/56.5) at South Carolina (3:30 p.m. on CBS)
Clemson (-12.5/54.5) at Texas A&M (7 p.m. on ESPN)
Penn State (-8.5/56) at Pittsburgh (8 p.m. on ABC)
USC at Stanford (-6/55.5) (8:30 p.m. on FOX) up from 5
Michigan State (-6/54) at Arizona State (10:45 p.m. on ESPN)
If you live in Las Vegas, subtract three hours from those starting times. Early Saturday window kicks off at 9 a.m. Pacific time. Sparty/ASU will be in prime time out West, kicking off at 7:45 p.m.
MLB Thursday: Cubs rally to tie in the eighth inning, beat Washington in 10 innings
Very light baseball schedule Thursday. Let’s take a quick peek at an important win for the Chicago Cubs…
Chicago Cubs (pick-em) 6, Washington 4 in 10 innings
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 18, Washington 16
Starting Pitchers: Hendricks 5 IP, 1 ER, Strasburg 5.2 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 5 IP, 0 ER, Washington 4.1 IP, 3 ER
Washington took an early lead on unearned runs. Chicago needed the win, while Washington is playing out the string. That was enough to matter late. Cubs move to 83-57 with the victory. Now 4.5 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central…five games ahead of St. Louis.
The Cubs aren’t yet a mathematical lock to reach the playoffs. They could theoretically finish 4-18 if something crazy happens. But, a virtual lock. A closing run as bad as 7-15 would still get them to 90-72, which might be good enough. Something as manageable as 12-10 would get then to 95 wins and a certain berth.
One other early Thursday finisher involving a playoff contender…
*Cleveland (-160) beat Toronto 9-4. Indians now 80-60.
Fun series this weekend between the Houston Astros (plus 235 run differential) and the Boston Red Sox (plus 223 run differential).
US Open Thursday: Osaka-to-me! Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams win semifinal matches
A pair of straight set victories Thursday in the women’s semifinals. Serena Williams was no surprise to advance at -465 over Anastasija Sevastova. Naomi Osaka was a slight underdog to Madison Keys in her historic run to the final.
Oh…Osaka owns a lifetime 1-0 record over Serena!
Betting markets still see Serena as the big favorite in Saturdays final. Early odds offshore were centered around Serena (-250), Osaka (plus 210).
Here are updated lines from bookmaker.eu for Friday’s men’s semifinals…
Early money lines for Friday’s Semifinals
Novak Djokovic (-525) vs. Kei Nishikori (plus 405)
Rafael Nadal (-160) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (plus 135)
The South Point has it Djokovic (-550) over Nishikori (plus 425), and Nadal (-145) over Del Potro (plus 125).
Now the updated Betfair exchange odds to win the event…
Novak Djokovic: risk $1 to win $0.98, risk $0.99 to win $1 that he won’t win
Rafael Nadal: risk $1 to win $2.60, risk $2.65 to win $1 that he won’t win
Juan Martin Del Potro: risk $1 to win $4.70, risk $4.80 to win $1 that he won’t win
Kei Nishikori: risk $1 to win $18.50, risk $20 to win $1 that he won’t win
A nice mix of favorites and longshots doing well in later rounds. Hope you tennis fans (and bettors) enjoy the final 2018 weekend of Grand Slam tennis.
VSiN News: A new studio in 2019 will expand our reach in Las Vegas!
Derek Stevens of “The D” in downtown Las Vegas announced that his new Fremont Street resort will include a VSiN studio for live broadcasts. Click here for details
. VSiN also will have a studio at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City. Details to come.
Big sports weekend ahead. We’ll recap it for you Monday when VSiN City returns.
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