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Market Insights: Saturday football betting bonanza

December 21, 2019 05:43 AM

Welcome to a Saturday football betting bonanza. We have three NFL games to sweat today and seven more college football bowl games. One trend to keep in mind for the NFL slate: Saturday road teams have gone 46-29 ATS (61%) since 2003 according to Bet Labs Sports. The Texans, Bills and Rams would all match today. 

In terms of bowl games, remember this is a great time of year to bet against the public due to the high ticket counts and influx of recreational money. bowl dogs are 263-235 (53%) ATS since 2005, including 70-50 ATS (58%) over the past three years. Bowl dogs 3.5 to 10 are 152-122 ATS (56%). Bowl dogs with low totals 51 or less are 98-81 ATS (55%). Bowl dogs against teams who failed to make a Bowl Game the previous season are 74-53 ATS (58%). 

For game-day analysis and betting updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9 a.m. ET to 12-noon on The Lombardi Line. We'll be breaking down all the late sharp action leading up to kickoff.

Now let's discuss where the sharp money is flowing today.

1 p.m. ET: Houston Texans (9-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)


This early Saturday non-conference showdown pits a division leader against a surging team that has been eliminated from playoff contention. The Texans took a huge step toward winning the AFC South last week by upsetting the division rival Titans 24-21 as a 3-point road dog. If the postseason started today, Houston would be the 4th seed in the AFC. The Texans are 7-7 ATS on the season and plus 11 in point differential, averaging 24.36 PPG on offense and allowing 23.57 PPG on defense. The red-hot Bucs have won four straight games, including last week's 38-17 win over the Lions as 6-point road favorites. However, it's too little too late for Tampa, which is mathematically eliminated from the postseason. The Bucs are 5-8-1 ATS and plus 18 in point differential, averaging 29.71 PPG on offense and allowing 28.43 PPG on defense. 

This line opened with Houston listed as a short 1.5-point road favorite. More than three-out-of-four bets are laying the points with the Texans. Sharps also steamed Houston early, pushing the line up to 3 or even 3.5 at some shops. That's when you saw some buyback on Tampa getting the points. Tampa has value as an inflated contrarian home dog. However, the Bucs will be missed their top two wide receivers: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Saturday road teams are 46-29 ATS (61.3%) since 2003. The total opened at 52.5 and has fallen to 50.5, signaling some sharp under action. The forecast calls for 15 MPH winds. The over is 11-3 in Bucs games but the under is 8-6 in Texans games.

4:30 p.m. ET: Buffalo Bills (10-4) at New England Patriots (11-3)


This pivotal AFC East showdown features two playoff-bound rivals fighting for the division lead. The Bills are coming off an impressive 17-10 win over Pittsburgh as 1-point road dogs. Buffalo is 9-4-1 ATS on the season and plus 69 in point differential, averaging 20.79 PPG on offense and giving up 15.86 PPG on defense. The Patriots snapped a two-game losing skid with a 34-13 win over the Bengals last week, covering as 10.5-point road favorites. New England is 8-6 ATS and plus 191 in point differential, averaging 26.57 PPG on offense and giving up only 12.93 PPG on defense. These two teams met up in Week 4 in Buffalo and the Pats won 16-10 but failed to cover as 7-point road favorites. 

The Patriots opened as 6.5-point home favorites. Two-thirds of bets are backing the Bills plus the points. This line has dropped to 6 throughout at the week but has mostly remained at 6.5, signaling a sharp line freeze on New England. Buffalo has value as a road divisional dog (23-17 ATS, 58% this season) and a dog with a low total. Saturday road teams are 46-29 ATS (61.3%) since 2003. The total is 38.5. December divisional unders are 10-5 (67%) this season and 57% since 2003. Both teams have been highly profitable to the under this season, with the Bills 11-3 and Pats 9-5. The forecast calls for high 20s with 5 MPH winds. John Hussey, the lead ref, has historically favored home teams (54.8% ATS) and unders (57.5%).

8:15 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Rams (8-6) at San Francisco 49ers (11-3)


Bettors are in for a treat as these two NFC West rivals meet up in primetime, which means it will be the most heavily bet game of the day. The Rams are still in the hunt for a playoff spot but currently find themselves on the outside looking in. Los Angeles got rocked by the Cowboys 44-21 last week, losing straight up as 1-point road favorites. The Rams are 9-5 ATS and 26 in point differential, averaging 23.71 PPG on offense and allowing 21.86 PPG on defense. The 49ers suffered a big letdown loss last week, falling to the lowly Falcons 29-22 as 10-point home favorites one week after their thrilling 48-46 win over the Saints as 1.5-point dogs. San Francisco is 8-5-1 ATS and 161 in point differential, averaging 29.93 PPG on offense and allowing 18.43 PPG on defense. San Francisco has clinched a playoff spot but needs to win as they are tied with the Seahawks for first place in the division.

This line opened with San Francisco listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. Despite three-out-of-four bets laying the points, the line has remained frozen at 6.5, signaling smart money grabbing the points. Books refuse to push the line a half point toward the popular side and hand out a 7 to contrarian wiseguys betting the Rams. Los Angeles has value as a road divisional dog (23-17 ATS, 58% this season) and a road dog off a loss (43-24 ATS, 64%). Dogs off a blowout loss of 20 points are 55% since 2003. Saturday road teams are 46-29 ATS (61.3%) since 2003. Sharp money has dropped the total from 46 to 44.5. December divisional unders are 10-5 (67%) this season and 57% since 2003. The forecast calls for 7 MPH winds. Primetime unders are 28-17 (62%) this season. The under is 9-5 in Rams games and 7-7 in 49ers games. These two teams met in mid-October and the 49ers won 20-7 as 3-point road dogs.

Saturday Bowl Game Sharp Action


Central Michigan 4.5 to 3 vs San Diego State

Liberty 6 to 5 vs Georgia Southern

FIU 3 to 1 vs Arkansas State

Boise State 4 to 3 vs Washington

Boca Raton Bowl Update: Several FAU starters have been suspended due to academic reasons, which has caused a major line move. The Owls will miss their top two wide receivers (Tavaris Harrison and Deangelo Antoine) and their top linebacker (Keke Leroy). SMU has gone from -4 to -8 and the total has fallen from 72 to 65. 

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