How Sharps are Betting NFL Week 1
Already a big surprise to start the 2017 NFL season, as the Kansas City Chiefs stunned the New England Patriots by two touchdowns Thursday night. That made it a big night for sportsbooks because the general public had tied up New England in a lot of parlays and teasers with other games later in the weekend. Sharps were mostly on Kansas City, which got there easily. There was a lot more money on the Over than the Under, coming in from sharps and squares. That cashed easily in a very high scoring game.
Let's move to Sunday and Monday. Here's how sharps have been betting Week One in the NFL.
NY Jets at Buffalo: Many sharps have been trying to find ways to fade the Jets. They've bet them Under on the Regular Season Win prop. And, once limits rose for Week One action (the lines have been up for weeks, but at lower limits), they also hit Buffalo hard. The line made it all the way up to Buffalo -9, from a summer opener down around -6. We are starting to see some Jets money come in at this new inflated price. There's a lot of anti-Buffalo sentiment about this season from the Wise Guys as well. Buffalo is supposed to be pretty bad, while the Jets are supposed to be historically bad.
Atlanta at Chicago: Possibly a tug-of-war shaping up between Atlanta -6.5 and Chicago +7. Some in the public expect Atlanta come out strong after their blown Super Bowl...while also looking for the Bears to be bad again. But, several sharp syndicates have been biding their time on this one because they thought seven was too high for the talent matchup. That's a big ROAD spread for a season opener no matter who's playing. The Wise Guys decided midweek that 7.5 just wasn't going to come into play. They jumped in on the key number, creating this tug-of-war that's been going on since. Chicago +7 is the sharp side.
Jacksonville at Houston: The sharp side here depends on which week! Jacksonville was getting respect through the summer, with the earliest lines being bet down from +5 toward the field goal. It never quite got that low. In recent days, more Wise Guy Houston money has come in. Generally speaking, there is some sharp "value" interest on the Jags, who some believe have a chance to make a run at .500 this season. But, Blake Bortles is still the quarterback. You can only be so optimistic. Right now, the "sharp" sides are probably Jaguars +5 but Houston -4 with disagreement amongst syndicates.
Philadelphia at Washington: Big move here through the summer, as Philadelphia moved from an opener weeks ago of +3 all the way to the current price of -1. Many sharps are high on Carson Wentz having a big second season after some rookie struggles. Others think the Kirk Cousins era is going to flounder. Those two separate beliefs collide here in a big way. Worth nothing though that Washington money does start to come in at +1.5.
Arizona at Detroit: Also a flipped favorite here through the summer. Arizona opened at +2.5, but is now laying -1.5 or -2 across Nevada and offshore. Some Detroit money does come in at +2, so we might have a small tug-of-war in that range (small because two isn't a key number). Arizona was a big disappointment a season ago. Many sharps are expecting a bounce-back.
Oakland at Tennessee: Oakland is going to be a tricky team to deal with in Nevada. They'll be moving here in a couple of years, and Las Vegas bettors are already treating them like a home team. There are more bets on Oakland to win the Super Bowl than any other team in futures pricing. But, here, it's Tennessee that's getting the respect. An opener of +1 or +1.5 has moved all the way to Titans -2.5. That's three straight games that have flipped favorites! Many sharps are expecting a big season from Marcos Mariota. Plus, you have the "bad body clock" issue in play for this early kickoff with a West Coast visitor. The Raiders didn't have trouble with that last season, but you never know.
Baltimore at Cincinnati: Cincinnati has been bet up from an opener of -2 to -3 because of Joe Flacco's back problems for Baltimore. If there are any indicatins that Flacco will be close to his normal form, I would expect sharps to hit the Ravens this weekend at the key number. A wait-and-see game at the moment for the Wise Guys. I don't know of anybody who rates the Bengals as the better of these two teams if Flacco is at 100%.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland: Pittsburgh has been up around -8.5, or -9 all summer. We're now seeing a rise up to -9.5 because the public loves betting on Super Bowl contenders vs. horrible teams. I would expect sharps to come in on the Browns pretty hard if +10 comes into play. A lot of the same people that are on the Bears vs. the Falcons are looking to value-bet Cleveland as a home dog here for similar reasons.
Indianapolis at LA Rams: Once Andrew Luck was ruled out for this game, we've been hopping mostly between Rams -3.5 and Rams -4. An opener on the key number of -3 was bet up right away. Sharps think Scott Tolzien is horrible. Some also think Jared Goff is going to show improvement under a new coaching staff. Both of those combine here to create sharp Rams interest. We do see some Wise Guy interest on the dog whenever the four comes into play. "Should the Rams be favored by four over anybody?" is a question you'll hear all weekend.
Seattle at Green Bay: This one has been solidly on Green Bay -3 all summer. These teams are seen as evenly matched, and ready to go as serious threats to win the NFC. Any move off the three from the public would put sharps on the other side because this game is so much more likely to land on three than any other number.
Carolina at San Francisco: Carolina has been bet up from -3.5 early this summer to -5.5 at the moment. Sharps would definitely take the home dog if +6 comes into play. That might happen on game day since this is in the second batch of kickoffs. A few ugly home dogs this week...but sharps like taking those because you're usually getting at least one extra point due to the public's aversion to the worst teams.
NY Giants at Dallas: This one's been tricky to deal with all summer because of the teams involved and the headlines. Ezekiel Elliot was suspended, but now he's going to play as the legal process works itself out. Odell Beckham Jr. is questionable after getting hurt in the preseason. It's well understood that sharps want the Giants here, given that NYG matches up so well with a team due to regress a little. Sportsbooks aren't quite sure how the public is going to play this Sunday nighter. New York is enough of a public team that they could be the square side too. But, Dallas getting Elliott back might stem that tide. Watch the lines on game day. The Giants would have been a strong sharp play at +4 if Beckham were at 100% health.
New Orleans at Minnesota: Minnesota is seen as the slightly better team which is why the line here opened just above the standard value of home field advantage at -3.5. New Orleans money has been coming in though...creating a possible tug-of-war on Minnesota -3 and New Orleans +3.5. A lot of time between now and Monday for this to sort out. Right now, I'm expecting that tug-of-war. Sharps put more weight on defense than offense, which is why they'd like the favorite at home laying just a field goal.
LA Chargers at Denver: Another possible tug-of-war at the same price. The summer opener of Denver -5 has been bet down to -3.5, with the three being tested in some spots. Many sharps like the Chargers this year because they had much better math last year than their record would indicate. There's also a lot of skepticism about Denver really being a Wildcard threat because of their quarterback situation. So, sharps LOVE the Chargers at +3.5 or more. The public is probably going to find Denver -3 on its home field very appealing vs. a perceived loser.