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Market Insights: Where sharp action is for today's bowl games

The 2019 NFL regular season came to an end yesterday with Week 17 underdogs going 8-7-1 ATS (53.3%). The biggest upset of the day was the Dolphins shocking the Patriots 27-24 as 17-point underdogs. Miami closed at roughly plus 900 on the moneyline and denied the Patriots a first-round bye. With the loss, New England drops to the 3rd seed and will host the Titans on wild-card weekend. 

Aside from Miami, the other seven dogs to cover were the Bengals (plus 2.5, beat Browns 33-23), Raiders (plus 4.5, lost to Broncos 16-15), Jags (plus 5.5, beat Colts 38-20), Ravens (plus 1.5, beat Steelers 28-10), Falcons (plus 1, beat Bucs 28-22), Lions (plus 13, lost to Packers 23-20) and Vikings (plus 5, lost to Bears 21-19). 

The seven favorites to cover were the 49ers (-3.5, beat Seahawks 26-21), Eagles (-3.5, beat Giants 34-17), Cowboys (-12.5, beat Redskins 47-16), Jets (-1, beat Bills 13-6), Saints (-14, beat Panthers 42-10), Titans (-10, beat Texans 35-14) and Rams (-6.5, beat Cardinals 31-24). 

The one push was the Chargers (plus 10, lost to Chiefs 31-21). 

Overall, dogs finished the 2019 regular season with a profitable recording, going 133-112 ATS (54.3%) with 11 pushes. 

Sunday's slate was littered with high-scoring games. Much to the chagrin of sportsbooks (and the delight of public bettors), overs went 12-3-1 (80%). 

With the regular season now over, 32 teams have been reduced to 12. Here is the playoff bracket.


1st-round byes

1 Baltimore

2 Kansas City

3 New England

4 Houston

5 Buffalo 

6 Tennessee


1st-round byes

1 San Francisco

2 Green Bay

3 New Orleans

4 Philadelphia

5 Seattle

6 Minnesota 

Wild-Card Round (with consensus numbers)

Saturday, Jan. 4

4:35 p.m. ET

Bills      41.5

Texans   -3

8:15 p.m.

Titans     43.5

Patriots   -5.5

Sunday, Jan. 5

1:05 p.m. ET

Vikings    47

Saints      -8

4:40 p.m.

Seahawks   -1

Eagles       46

Now we turn our attention to Monday. We have four College Football Bowl Games, 6 NBA games, 42 college basketball games and 1 NHL game. For an updated breakdown of all of Monday's sharp action be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Until then, let's discuss where sharp action is flowing for today's four bowl games. 

12:30 p.m. ET: Western Kentucky (8-4) vs. Western Michigan (7-5)

The Serv Pro First Responder Bowl takes place at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, home of the SMU Mustangs. Western Kentucky started the year 1-2 but then went 7-2 the rest of the way, including a three-game winning streak to end the regular season. The Hilltoppers went 8-4 ATS, averaging 25.6 PPG on offense and allowing 20.1 PPG on defense. Western Michigan started the season 4-4 but went 3-1 down the stretch to earn a Bowl bid. The Broncos went 6-6 ATS, averaging 34.2 PPG on offense and allowing 26.2 PPG on defense. 

This line opened with Western Kentucky listed as a 2-point favorite. The public is relatively split and doesn't know who to back. But sharps have sided with WKU, moving the line from -2 to -3.5. Pros and Joes are in agreement with the total. Both are hammering the over, which has pushed the line up from 52.5 to 54.5. 

4 p.m. ET: Illinois (6-6) vs California (7-5)

The RedBox Bowl takes place at Levi's Stadium, home of the SaN Francisco 49ers. Illinois was kind to bettors this season, going 8-4 ATS and posting some huge upset wins along the way, most notably beating Wisconsin 24-23 as 28.5-point dogs. However, Lovie Smith's team stumbled down the stretch losing their final two games including the regular season finale to Northwestern 29-10 as 6-point favorites. The Illini averaged 27.3 PPG on offense and gave up 25.4 PPG on defense. Cal started the season 4-0, then went 0-4 before rebounding to go 3-1 down the stretch, winning their final two games. The Golden Bears beat UCLA 28-18 in the season finale as 1-point dogs. Cal went 8-4 ATS, averaging 20.08 PPG on offense and giving up 22.08 PPG on defense.

This line opened with Cal listed as a 6.5-point favorite. It has bounced up to 7 and down to 6 at times, but never more than a half-point either way. We've seen some sharp money hit Cal at -6 and Illinois at plus 7. Cal enjoys a geographical home field advantage as the campus is relatively close to Santa Clara. Sharps have sided with the over, pushing 42 to 44. Overs are 12-9-1 (57%) this Bowl Season. Cal is going Bowling for the 2nd year in a row while this is Lovie Smith's first bowl game at Illinois. 

4 p.m. ET: Mississippi State (6-6) vs Louisville (7-5)

The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl takes place at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans. Mississippi State started the season 3-1, dropped four straight and then rebounded to go 3-1 down the stretch, including winning their last two regular season games (beat Ole Miss 21-20 as 1.5-point dogs their last time out). The Bulldogs averaged 27.58 PPG on offense and gave up 28.08 PPG on defense. Louisville averaged 32.67 PPG on offense and gave up 33.83 PPG on defense. 

This line opened with Mississippi State listed as a 3-point favorite. The public doesn't know which way to go yet the line has moved to 3.5 or even 4.5 at some books, signaling sharp action on the Bulldogs. Mississippi State has value as a buy low "bad" ATS team (5-7) vs a "good" ATS team (Louisville 5-7). The total has barely budged off of 62.5. The forecast calls for mid 50s with 10-15 MPH winds. 

8 p.m. ET: Virginia (9-4, ranked 24th) vs Florida (10-2, ranked 9th)

The Capital One Orange Bowl takes place at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, and features two ranked teams. It will also kick off in primetime, which means it will be the most heavily bet game of the night. Virginia saw their four-game winning streak come to an edge in the ACC Title game, losing to Clemson 62-17 as 29-point dogs. The Cavs went 6-6-1 ATS, averaging 32.38 PPG on offense and giving up 26.46 PPG on defense. Florida went 7-3-2 ATS and their only losses came against LSU (42-28) and Georgia (24-17). The Gators are averaging 33 PPG on offense and giving up just 14.42 PPG on defense. 

This line opened with Florida listed as a 13.5-point favorite. Two-thirds of bets are laying the points with the higher ranked and bigger name Gators. This lopsided support pushed the line up to 15. That's when some sharp buyback hit Virginia, dropping the line down to 14.5. The Cavs have value as a contrarian dog in an extremely heavily bet game. The total has ticked up slightly from 54 to 54.5. The over is 9-4 in Virginia games but the under is 7-5 in Florida games. 

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