The Steelers took care of business against the Ravens on Wednesday, winning the "Covid Bowl" 19-14 to run their undefeated record to 11-0. But Baltimore (+ 10.5) secured a huge backdoor cover, much to the delight of contrarian bettors and sportsbooks. Trailing 19-7 late in the fourth quarter, Ravens backup Trace McSorley threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Hollywood Brown to make it 19-14 and cover the spread. The Steelers were a massive public play receiving roughly 80% of bets and dollars across the market. The virus stricken and shorthanded Ravens were the ultimate contrarian "hazmat suit" play--a bet that looked so gross on the surface but held substantial buy low contrarian value.
With the cover, divisional dogs improve to 35-26 ATS (57.4%) on the season. Dogs in general are now 100-77 ATS (56.5%).
We also saw the under cash comfortably. There was some late game day movement toward the under, dropping the total from 42.5 to 41.5. This matched a late season "divisional unders that fall" system. Later in the year (Week 12 and on) unders tend to perform better, especially in divisional games in which the teams are playing each other for the 2nd time. This built in familiarity, with the defense knowing what to expect from the offense, has historically led to more unders. Add in a line that is dropping, a signal of sharp action, and they become even more profitable.
Now it's on to Thursday. Unfortunately, there is no Thursday Night Football game in the NFL but we do have a pair of college football games along with a loaded college hoops slate.
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.
In the meantime, let's discuss where the smart money is flowing tonight's two college football games.
6 p.m. ET: Louisiana Tech (4-3) at North Texas (3-4)
This early evening Conference USA matchup looks like a layup on paper. Louisiana Tech has a winning record and just took down UAB 37-24 in double overtime. On the flip side, North Texas has a losing record and just got crushed by UTSA 49-17. This line opened with Louisiana Tech listed as a 2.5-point road favorite. The public is rushing to the window to back Louisiana Tech as a short favorite. After all, they are the "better" team off a win. However, despite two-thirds of bets laying the points with Louisiana Tech, we've seen a massive adjustment toward North Texas, with the Mean Green moving from + 2.5 to -1.5. In other words, we are seeing a razor sharp reverse line movement on North Texas, flipping them from a dog to a favorite. This signals pro money backing North Texas as a contrarian home favorite. If a line looks fishy, there's a reason behind it. It might have something to do with the COVID layoff for Louisiana Tech. They are playing their first game since Oct. 31 and may be rusty.
9:30 p.m. ET: Air Force (2-2) at Utah State (1-4)
This late night Mountain West grudge match features a pair of teams coming off impressive wins. Air Force just snapped a two game losing skid with a 28-0 shutout win over New Mexico. Meanwhile, Utah State just got their first one of the season by upsetting New Mexico 41-27. This line opened with Air Force listed as a 10.5-point road favorite. A slight majority of bets, but also a heavy sharp of sharp money, has come down on Air Force, which has pushed this line up from -10.5 to -11.5. Air Force has a rest advantage coming off a "bye" week while Utah State played last week. Air Force is averaging 26 PPG on offense and giving up 18.3 PPG on defense. Utah State is averaging 17.2 PPG on offense while allowing 35.2 PPG on defense. One big advantage for Air Force here may be their triple option offense against a porous run defense in Utah State.