Last Updated: 2018-01-05
As we proceed to put a bow on the NFL regular season, and look ahead to Week 17’s slate of games, I’ll first recap last week, which for the first week in what seemed like a long time, resulted in a zero in the loss column, a welcomed holiday gift. Though favorites still ruled the day ATS, going 8-7-1, our identified sharp plays found a couple of live dogs for 2 wins and one for the push.
That push ATS was with the New York Jets, as a 7-point home dog, playing host to the Chargers. The Jets lost 14-7, losing the yardage battle 379-295, but surprisingly kept it within the number, even while losing 2 fumbles and throwing an INT, and with the Chargers finishing the game without a turnover. The spread remained at 7 for the most part throughout the week, with a few 6.5’s showing, but closing with some extra juice on the Chargers side. It became evident as the week progressed and limits increased, that this wasn’t a major play for sharp bettors, but some early week movement certainly revealed some interest.
The first win of the day was with the Titans, who would eventually close as a 6-point dog (as low as 5 at some shops off-shore), and certainly were a major play for professional bettors, as they hosted the red-hot LA Rams. Titans would go on to lose, 27-23, playing a statistically even game with the Rams: losing the yardage battle 402-366 (.6 ypp), getting out first-downed by 1, and keeping both the time of possession and the turnover battle even. The Titans we’re fortunate to score 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns, but the game was played very closely none-the-less and the cover was warranted.
The other win came by way of the San Francisco 49ers, who move to 4-0 with Jimmy Garrapolo under center, by winning outright over the Jaguars, 44-33, as a 4-point underdog. The final score may have been a bit misleading, as Jacksonville out-gained the 49ers in actuality, 472-369 (+.4 YPP), won the first-down battle, 32-26, and gave up a defensive touchdown on a Bortles pick-six. So, the misleading result may be something to file-away for next week, but in any event, we’ll take the ball bouncing our way for the cover, and express gratitude to the football gods for the 2-0-1 week.
Week 17 is unique in that only a few games matter toward the playoff picture and not only is motivation in question for a majority of the teams, but many are resting starters, and huge line moves have occurred as a result. There are also teams who would love to play spoiler, or could be expected to play hard for a coach who may be on the hot seat, or coaching his final game for a team. There are many angles to consider this week, and for the sake of interest I’ll focus on games with some meaning as far as playoff implications are concerned. If there are angles to found in these games, we can count on the sharp money to find them, and just as assuredly as there is sharp action, there is market reaction. It is identifying this market reaction, that is the purpose of MarketWatch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Off-shore opening line: TB 7.5 -110
Consensus current line: TB 7 -115
Off-shore Betting Consensus: 65% NO
Though playing out a lost season for weeks now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with every reason to mail it in, have shown no signs of quit and continue to fight every week. Losing by just a field goal the last 2 weeks to their division foes, in Atlanta at home and Carolina on the road, they get another one at home this week. With a chance to avenge a 30-10 blowout, and play spoiler to the Saints, who with a win would lock up the NFC South, Tampa Bay is catching a full touchdown at home. Officially opening at 7.5 off-shore, this number has trended downward to a consensus of 7, with 6.5’s beginning to show up at such prominent books as Bookmaker and BetCris, a surefire sign of serious sharp action on the dog to move all the way through 7. The 7’s that remain, at Pinnacle, The Greek, and BetOnline are now showing extra juice on Tampa, while Bovada is one of the few books to offer a standard -110 on Tampa currently. With the way the market is trending, I’m not sure the 7’s last until Sunday, and if you can get ahold of one with standard juice, you absolutely take it now. If not, you have to bite the bullet and lay the extra juice to have the key number, because signs are pointing to 6.5 across the board.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
Off-shore opening line: ATL -3 -110
Consensus current line: ATL -4 -105
Off-shore Betting Consensus: 58% CAR
A huge game for both teams, as the Panthers, with help, can clinch the Division or possibly even a first round bye, while the Falcons can clinch a Playoff birth with a win, or else they will have to rely on the Seahawks losing at home to Arizona get in. The Falcons are looking to bounce-back after a 23-13 loss in New Orleans last week, while Carolina pulled off a close, 22-19, victory over the Bucs last week and are looking to make it 4-wins in-a-row to finish out the regular season. Opening at a solid 3 -110 off-shore at Bookmaker, a majority of the bets have been in support of the Panthers, while the line has risen up to a consensus of soft 4 across the market. A few 3.5’s remain at The Greek and BetOnline, with the Greek juicing the Carolina side, while BetOnline is at -110. That 3.5 -110 looks awfully tempting right now, as the rest of the market has made the move to a reduced 4, and if with access I’d grab that ASAP. If not, you’d be well advised to wait this number out, and see if the Carolina consensus holds true closer to kick and resurrects the 3.5’s that were once available on the Birds.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks
Off-shore opening line: ARI 10 -110
Consensus current line: ARI 9 -110
Off-shore Betting Consensus: 65% SEA
The Seahawks find themselves in an unfamiliar situation as the Playoffs approach, without full control of their destiny and relying on a Falcons loss and a win against the Cardinals to clinch a Wild Card spot. Arizona, on the other hand, has nothing to play for except the rare opportunity to stick it to their big brother in the NFC West, and play spoiler to the team that consistently dominates the division. Seattle has limped through the season, sustaining injuries to many of their big names on defense, but pulled out a misleading win in Dallas last week, in which they only managed to muster 136 yards of total offense. The Cardinals, have battled through injuries themselves, specifically at the Quarterback position, but regardless of who has started as of late, Arizona as stayed competitive in their last 5 games, with wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville, while actually outgaining the Rams in a misleading loss. Now off of the 23-0 shutout of the Giants, they opened as a double digit dog in Seattle at Bookmaker. With early action all over the Seahawks, only one 10 remains, and this 10, at Pinnacle, requires a 23% tax. Interestingly, Pinnacle opened this number all the way down at 7.5 -123 in early expectation of Arizona money, but were forced up to 10 by the lopsided consensus where Bookmaker opened. Now showing a mixture of 9’s and 9.5’s, the market has settled south of 10, with Bookmaker and BetCris charging -115 on the Arizona side at 9, while Bovada and The Greek are the notable books at 9.5, with Bovada at -110 and the Greek at -115 on the Seattle side. With 9 being a dead number for the most part, I don’t see any reason to rush and get to the window, especially with Arizona being the unpopular side. The ideal number would certainly be 10, and while unlikely, it is a possibility by Sunday with Seattle expected to be the recreationally supported side.
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