Action-thirsty sports bettors experienced pangs of withdrawal yesterday as Wednesday marked the first day since July 22 where we didn't have a single game to bet on across the major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL, CFB). Luckily, we're back to business tonight with three big games across the NFL and college football.
For an updated breakdown of Thursday'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 will also be joining Rush Hour with Danny Burke at 7 p.m. ET to offer an update on the Thursday night football games.
In the meantime, let's discuss where the smart money is flowing for each gridiron matchup tonight.
7:30 p.m. ET: South Alabama (3-2) at Georgia Southern (3-2)
This Sun Belt showdown features one team on an upward trajectory and another looking to bounce back from a tough loss. After starting the season 1-2, South Alabama has won two straight, most recently beating UL Monroe 38-14, easily covering as 14.5-point favorites. Meanwhile, Georgia Southern had their two-game win streak snapped last week, falling to Coastal Carolina 28-14 as 1-point dogs. This line opened with Georgia Southern listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public is laying the points with the home favorite, yet we've seen this line fall from -6.5 to -4. This sharp reverse line movement signals pro money banking on South Alabama to keep it close. South Alabama matches the profitable short road dog + 4 or less system (54% ATS last decade). South Alabama also has value as a contrarian conference road dog with a line move in their favor. The forecast calls for 15 MPH winds but pros don't seem to be concerned as they've kept hitting this over, pushing it from 49.5 to 51.
8:20 p.m. ET: Atlanta Falcons (1-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-4)
Both of these NFC South rivals are below .500 and desperate for a victory. It's been a putrid season for the Falcons. Atlanta has already changed coaches and is coming off a heartbreaking 23-22 last-second loss to the Lions last week, losing straight up as 1-point home favorites. On the flip side, the Panthers are riding a two-game losing skid and just fell to the Saints 27-24, although they managed to keep it close and cover as 7-point road dogs. This Thursday Night showdown opened with Carolina listed as a 3-point home favorite. The public wants nothing to do with the listless Falcons and Average Joes are all over the Panthers at home. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the points, we've seen this line fall from Carolina -3 to -2.5. Some books are even down to 2. This sharp reverse line movement signals clear wiseguy action on the Falcons, who are the unpopular play tonight but still see the line move in their favor. Atlanta has value as a contrarian dog in a heavily bet primetime game and a buy-low bad ATS team (ATL 2-5 ATS) against a good ATS team (CAR 4-3 ATS). Atlanta is also a divisional dog and short road dog + 6 or less (27-12, 69% ATS this season). Keep an eye on the weather here. We're looking at 10-15 MPH winds, which would benefit the under. The total opened 51 and dropped to 49 before rising back to 51. Essentially all liability has been under, despite the public hammering the over.
10 p.m. ET: Colorado State (0-0) at Fresno State (0-1)
This late night Mountain West showdown features a Colorado State team making its season debut against a Fresno State team with a game under its belt. Fresno put forth a disappointing performance in their season opener last week, falling to Hawaii 34-19, losing straight up as 3-point favorites. Steve Addazio will be making his debut as Colorado State head coach. This line opened at roughly a pick'em, although some shops opened Fresno State as a 2-point home favorite. Pros and Joes have both loaded up on Colorado State, pushing the Rams up to -1.5. Some books are even at -2. If you're worried about a close game, the moneyline may be enticing. Colorado State is roughly -125. We've also seen respected money hit the over, pushing the total up from 58 to 59.