Thursday Night Football was either an exhilarating last-minute victory or a nightmarish defeat depending on which side of the spread you were on. The Browns led the Bengals 35-23 in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, easily covering the 6-point spread. But then Joe Burrow led a furious drive down the field, capped off by a late touchdown pass with 43 seconds left to make it 35-29. The extra point made it 35-30. The Browns got the win but the Bengals covered as 6-point underdogs.
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This game was a textbook example of a bad beat for Browns -6 bettors and a thrilling back door cover win for Bengals + 6 bettors. Bad beats and back door covers are part of gambling. Sometimes the breaks go your way and sometimes they don't. There is always an element of luck at play. However, beating the closing line (also known as securing closing line value or CLV, for short) is the mark of a successful long term sports bettor. If you are consistently getting better numbers than the rest of the market that will lead to long term success, regardless of individual wins and losses which could go either way.
Think of it this way: if you bet Browns -5.5, that is considered a "good" bet even though it lost. You beat the closing line and bet Cleveland at a better number than what they finished at. In the same vein, if you jumped on the Bengals early at the books offering + 6.5 you also beat the closing line and made a "good" bet. Don't beat yourself up over a bad beat. And don't gloat when you get lucky with a nice back door cover Instead, focus on consistently beating the closing line. That's the best way to win long term.
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The TNF total sailed over, handing public over bettors an easy win. The total opened at 45 and looked sharp for much of the week, dropping down to 43.5. But then in the final hours before game-time we saw the total jump back up to 44.5, signaling late sharp over money. Remember, late moves right before game-time are critical because that's when limits are raised and big bets come in the heaviest.
Today we have a relatively quiet Friday with 1 NBA game and 18 MLB games. Consider it the calm before the weekend storm. Let's discuss a trio of Friday matchups receiving notable sharp action from respected bettors.
For an updated breakdown of Friday's betting action, 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 joining Michael Lombardi and Patrick Meagher on The Lombardi Line at 12:25 p.m ET to offer a market update.
7:30 p.m. ET: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
One of the greatest rivalries in sports returns at Fenway Park tonight. The Yankees are getting healthier and on a roll, winning their last eight consecutive games. The Red Sox are returning home after a long road trip and just took two-of-three against the Marlins. Still, Boston owns the third-worst record in baseball. In tonight's series opener, the Yankees start lefty Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 4.76 ERA) and the Sox counter with Martin Perez (3-4, 4.33 ERA). This line opened with the Yankees listed as -170 road favorites and the Sox a + 160 dog. Sharps must think the Yankees line is too low because they're steaming New York, pushing the Bronx Bombers up to -185. The Yankees are + 54 in run differential and the Sox are -72. New York is 26-15 as a favorite and Boston is 12-27 as a dog. The Sox are 5-15 against lefties and just 8-17 at home.
9 p.m. ET: Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers
Welcome to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets are coming off a thrilling Game 7 win over the Clippers, winning outright as 7.5-point dogs. Meanwhile, the Lakers took care of business in the Conference Semifinals, dismissing the Rockets in five games. This line opened with Los Angeles listed as a 6.5-point favorite. Spread bets are split down the middle and the public doesn't know which way to go. On the one hand they love the idea of getting points with the scrappy Nuggets but they're also fearful of the powerhouse Lakers. Sharps, however, have taken a position. We've seen pros hit Los Angeles at -6.5, pushing this line up to -7. Some books look like they may even move to -7.5. One big advantage for Los Angeles in Game 1 is rest. The Lakers last played on September 12 while the Nuggets last played September 15. We've also seen sharps hit the under, dropping the total from 212 to 211. The Lakers are -715 favorites (87.7%) to win the series at BetMGM. The Nuggets are + 500 underdogs.