The Giants came up huge for contrarian bettors and sportsbooks last night, losing to the Bucs 25-23 on Monday Night Football but covering the spread as 12.5-point dogs. The public, along with some early respected money, absolutely hammered Tampa Bay, who opened at -10 and got steamed all the way to -12.5. Some books even reached -13 before some late buyback hit on the Giants.
This game was all about closing line value and the importance of inflated lines. If you bet the Bucs early at -10 or -10.5, that was still a "good" bet because you beat the closing number, even though the bet lost. However, if you laid the points with Tampa Bay at -12 or -12.5, that was a poor decision because the line moved so much that all value had been sucked out of the number. In situations where you see a huge move, oftentimes it's wiser to buy low on the contrarian dog with the inflated line, in this case playing the Giants + 12.5 after they opened at + 10. New York wasn't a sharp play, but it was a value play. You were contrarian in a heavily bet game and received 2.5-points of inflated line value.
We saw the same situation play out on Sunday when the Titans moved from -4 to -7 against the Bengals. At -7, there was no value in betting Tennessee after the line moved so much. At that point, it became a value play on Cincinnati at an inflated + 7. The Bengals ended up winning the game 31-10.
With the Giants covering, underdogs are now 68-51 ATS (57.1%) this season. Primetime dogs (Thursday, Sunday and Monday night) are now 17-8 ATS (68%).
In terms of the total, it ended up being either a bad beat for under bettors or a late gift for over bettors, depending on which side of the total you were on. The Bucs led 25-17 late in the fourth quarter, with the Under 46.5 comfortably in control. But then Daniel Jones threw a touchdown pass with 28 second left in the game to make it 25-23. The ensuing two-point conversion failed. Bucs win. Giants cover. Over cashes.
Now it's on to Tuesday. We have no games to sweat tonight, but we can use our time wisely by breaking down matchups and doing our homework for the week ahead.
For an updated breakdown of early NFL and NCAAF action for this week, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET. I'll also be co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3 p.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, here are a handful of NFL Week 9 games already attracting sharp action.
Sunday 1 p.m. ET: Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills
This non-conference showdown features a pair of division leaders with a combined record of 12-3. The Seahawks (6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS) rebounded from their first loss of the season against the Cardinals in Week 7 with a 37-27 victory over the 49ers last week, easily covering as 1-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Bills are riding a two-game winning streak and coming off a 24-21 win over the Patriots, although they failed to cover as 4-point home favorites. This line opened with Seattle listed as a 3-point road favorite. The public is all over the Seahawks laying a short number. However, despite two-thirds of bets backing Seattle, this line has either remained at Seattle -3 or dipped down to 2.5. This signals liability on the Bills getting the key number of + 3. Buffalo has value as a short contrarian home dog and Seattle is at a disadvantage as a West Coast team traveling East for an early 1 p.m. ET game. Buffalo also has buy-low value as a bad ATS team (3-5 ATS) against a sell-high good ATS team (5-2 ATS). The total has risen from 53 to 54.5. Both teams have been profitable to the over, with the Seahawks 5-2 and Bills 6-2.The weather shouldn't be an issue in this one.
Sunday 1 p.m. ET: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans
Both of these non-conference foes have winning records but are riding losing streaks. The Bears (5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS) battled hard but came up short against the Saints last week, losing 26-23 although they managed to cover as 5.5-point home dogs. The Titans (5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS) are coming off a disappointing loss to the lowly Bengals, falling 31-20 and losing straight up as 7-point dogs. This line opened with Tennessee listed as a 6-point home favorite. The public is split and doesn't know whether to grab the points or lay them. However, despite this even ticket split we've seen the line dip from Titans -6 to -5.5. In a vacuum, a line shouldn't move at all if the bets are even. So this shift indicates respected money backing the Bears plus the points. Chicago has value as a short road dog + 6 or less (32-13 ATS, 71%) and a road team with a line move in their favor.
Monday 8:15 p.m. ET: New England Patriots at New York Jets
This Monday Night Football showdown features two AFC East rivals desperate for a victory. The Patriots (2-5, 3-4 ATS) have lost four straight games, most recently falling to the Bills 24-21, although they were able to cover as 4-point road dogs. The Patriots have never lost five straight games in the Belichick era. The Jets (0-8 SU, 1-7 ATS) are the only winless team left in the NFL. New York is coming off a 36-9 loss to the Chiefs, failing to cover as 19.5-point road dogs. This line opened with New England listed as a 7.5-point road favorite. The public knows the Pats are struggling but they can't possibly stomach backing the winless Jets. However, despite roughly two-thirds of bets taking the Patriots, we've seen the line fall from New England -7.5 to -7. This signals some smart money buying low on the Jets at home getting the points. New York has value as a divisional dog and a contrarian play in a heavily bet, primetime game.
More Week 9 line moves
Broncos-Falcons Over 47.5 to 49.5
Vikings -3 to -4 vs Lions
Panthers + 12.5 to + 10.5 at Chiefs