Happy NFL Opening Night! Today we have a loaded Thursday betting menu featuring the 2021 NFL Season Opener between the Cowboys and Bucs, plus 8 MLB games. 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 1 p.m. ET. I'll be joining The Lombardi Line at 1:30 p.m. ET to offer a market update and then co-hosting Betting Across America with Mike Pritchard from 3 to 5 p.m. ET. I'll also be hopping on Rush Hour with Danny Burke at 7 p.m. ET.
In the meantime, let's discuss where the money is flowing for a trio of Thursday games...
3:37 p.m. ET: Chicago White Sox (80-59) at Oakland Athletics (75-64)
These non-division playoff contenders have split the first two games of the series, with the White Sox taking the opener 6-3 as + 120 road dogs and then the Athletics bouncing back with a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night as -150 home favorites. In this last afternoon rubber match, Chicago hands the ball to righty Reynaldo Lopez (3-1, 2.08 ERA) and Oakland counters with lefty Sean Manaea (8-9, 3.91 ERA). This line opened with the A's listed as a modest -130 home favorite and the White Sox a + 120 road dog. The public is split and doesn't know who to back. But pros are siding with Oakland as we've seen the A's get steamed up from -130 to -140. Non-division home favorites are 440-278 (61%) this season. Oakland is 55-37 as a favorite while Chicago is 10-20 as a dog. We could also be looking at a lower scoring game in this one. The total opened at 9 and has quickly been bet down to 8.5.
7:05 p.m. ET: Colorado Rockies (63-77) at Philadelphia Phillies (71-68)
This series means much more to the Phillies than it does the Rockies. Colorado has lost four straight, just got swept by the Giants at home and are 11.5-games back of the second Wild Card spot. Meanwhile, the Phillies just dropped two of three against the Brewers but are just 2.5-games back of the first place Braves in the NL East. In other words, the Rockies are pretty much out of it while the Phillies are very much in contention. In tonight's series opener, the Rockies start righty Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.16 ERA) and Philadelphia taps lefty Ranger Suarez (6-4, 1.38 ERA). This line opened with Philadelphia listed as a hefty -180 home favorite and Colorado a + 165 road dog. Pros aren't scared off by the expensive price and have laid the chalk with the home team, steaming the Phillies up from -180 to -195. Non-division home teams receiving 10-cents of steam or more are 242-164 (60%) this season. Philadelphia is 38-36 as a favorite while Colorado is 39-65 as a dog. The Phillies are 39-28 at home while the Rockies are one of the worst road teams in MLB, going 18-50 as visitors. Wiseguys seem to be leaning under as the total is 8.5 with the under juiced to -115. Colorado has been a sneaky good under team this season, going 76-61 to the under.
8:20 p.m. ET: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Cowboys are coming off a disappointing season in which they went 6-10 and lost star quarterback Dak Prescott to a gruesome leg injury in Week 5. Meanwhile, the Bucs enjoyed a fairytale campaign in 2020, going 11-5 and then running the table in the playoffs to win the Super Bowl at home in Tom Brady's first year. Tonight's line opened with Tampa Bay listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public expects an easy win and cover for the Bucs but they're not alone. Pros hit Tampa Bay early, driving the Bucs from -6.5 to -8. Some shops have even touched -8.5. Historically, Super Bowl winners have been a profitable bet in Week 1, going 18-3 straight up since 1996 and 13-6-2 ATS.
If you missed the early number on Tampa Bay and still want to sweat the Bucs, consider a teaser opportunity. Taking Tampa Bay from -8 to -2 or -8.5 to -2.5 is prime teaser play as you go through multiple key numbers (both 3 and 7). If you're looking to go contrarian, Dallas matches several betting systems. The Cowboys are contrarian in a heavily bet primetime game and you're getting a buy-low inflated line dog play at + 8.5. Week 1 dogs are 85-70 ATS (55%) over the past decade. Big Week 1 dogs + 6.5 or more are 27-17 ATS (61%). Week 1 road dogs who missed the playoffs the previous year are 44-27 ATS (62%).