How Sharps are Betting Wildcards and Alabama/Georgia
Lines have had time to settle for what's shaping up as a very exciting football weekend. Betting action has been heavy already for Wildcard Weekend...and Monday Night's Alabama/Georgia National Championship game will be one of the most heavily bet college football games ever.
Let's see how sharps have been betting all five of these blockbusters. I'll go in schedule order.
Tennessee at Kansas City: Different stores opened at different lines across the board last week. So, I'll talk generally about the opening ranges and what's happened since. Here, most spots were at Kansas City -7.5. Since then we've seen a rise to -8 or -8.5, with the occasional -9 being tested. Tennessee money does come in pretty hard at +9. Kansas City's poor playoff history doesn't scare away the public at -8 or less. Teaser players will be all over the Chiefs if they can get -2.5 or -2. We've talked for years about how sharps like betting teasers that include teams that can cross both the 3 and the 7 in that six-point move. The Over/Under has dropped from 45 (or higher) down to 44.5 because of cold temperatures, and Kansas City's conservative history in playoff games.
Atlanta at the LA Rams: The Rams opened as low as -4, but were more generally in the -5 to -5.5 range. Money has continued to come in on the home favorite all week. We're now seeing Rams -6 (or even -6.5) as we approach the weekend. Sharps who liked the Rams jumped in early to beat the public rush. Falcons money is biding its time to find the apex. I would be surprised if the full seven came into play. Atlanta money will be happy to take +6.5 or +6 because it has the more experienced starting quarterback. The total has dropped from 49.5 down to 48. The quants were getting 48 or 47 as a grading, and were happy to grab 48.5 or more.
Jacksonville at Buffalo: An opener of Jacksonville -7.5 has been bet up to -8.5. This is another great teaser option at the current price. I would expect some stores to go to -9 just to take the sharp teasers out of play. With such a short schedule, Vegas sports books will be very one-sided on the combination of Kansas City and Jacksonville in two-teamers (and in moneyline parlays too, where the favorites only have to win the game). Sharps are in the ideal position, percentage-wise, of possibly getting Buffalo +9 (which is too high for this matchup in their view) and Jacksonville -2.5 in teasers. This Over/Under also fell, as the opener of 41 is down to 39. The weather should be better Sunday than it was earlier in the week in Jacksonville. But, still a chance for some wind. Quants see this as a defensive battle, getting math gradings in the range of 38-39.
Carolina at New Orleans: A bit of a surprise here, in that an opener of New Orleans -5.5 is all the way up to -7...and that's holding on the key number. I'm not surprised that the Saints were hit early. The public loves betting Drew Brees at home. And, quants have to input very poor stats for Cam Newton into their models. But, seven's a tall number given the won-lost records of these teams, and the way that divisional rivals know the ins and outs of each other's tendencies. We'll either see a tug-of-war between Carolina +7 and New Orleans -6.5. Or, we're going to hold strong on the seven until kickoff. Though, I should point out that a favorite heavy weekend that leaves the public flush with cash will have squares re-investing in the Saints in the final NFL kickoff of the weekend. It's possible a tug-of-war develops a tick higher at Saints -7 and Carolina +7.5. The Over/Under is down from 49 to 48.
Alabama vs. Georgia (in Atlanta): Heavy action already. Alabama opened at -4. There was two-way action slightly shaded to Alabama from the public. Sharps wanted the dog, and finally decided +4.5 wasn't going to be available. So, the Wise Guys hit Georgia hard enough midweek to cause a drop down to Alabama -3.5. We may have a tug-of-war the rest of the way between Alabama -3.5 and Georgia +4. Or, it may just settle at one of those two numbers. Four isn't a key number. But, squares are laying less than that when they see it. Sharps believe this could be a field goal game either way, and are happy to bet +4 for value. Some like it a lot better than just a "value" bet too. I've talked to many Wise Guys who made the game Alabama -1 or -2. Big move on the Under, which has dropped from an opener of 48 all the way down to 45. Quants forecast a defensive struggle similar to Alabama/Clemson, but with more scoring from the dog. The public isn't likely to bet a shootout with these defenses on the field.