Vegas ready for some football

Vegas ready for some football

Vegas ready for some football
By DAVE TULEY

LAS VEGAS – The NFL draft isn’t until next weekend and the regular season is nearly five months away. Meanwhile, the baseball season is in full swing, the NHL playoffs are under way, and the NBA playoffs start this upcoming weekend. So why am I even mentioning pro football?

Well, the Las Vegas Hilton posted point spreads for Week 1 of the NFL season at 2 p.m. last Sunday, plus it’s never too early to talk about pro football in the sports books here as it is the No. 1 betting sport in this country.

The season opens Thursday, Sept. 7, with the defending champion Colts hosting the Saints in prime time. The Hilton made the Colts a 6-point favorite. There are 13 games on the opening Sunday, Sept. 9, and then a doubleheader Monday night.

Ed Salmons, sports book manager at the Hilton, said it was a team of five oddsmakers, including Jeff Sherman, Matt Metcalfe, Chris Bennett and Austin Bhushan, that collaborated on the opening numbers.

“After the league released the schedule last Thursday, we all came up with our own numbers independently and then discussed all the games over Saturday and Sunday,” Salmons said. “We weighted it and adjusted until we came up with what we thought were the right numbers for each game.”

Salmons said they were all pretty close on most games, but there were some with wide ranges of disagreement. He said opinions on the Chiefs-Texans game ranged from Chiefs –3 to Texans –2, but they settled on Chiefs –1.

“We felt at this point that the bettors who are looking at these would take the Texans +3 right away, so we made the Chiefs a smaller favorite,” he said.

The Panthers-Rams game also had oddsmakers making each team a favorite, so they decided to put that game out at pick-em and let the public decide. The Falcons-Vikings game also was released at pick-em.

In addition to the Chiefs over the Titans, four other road teams were tabbed as favorites, with the Patriots –5 at the Jets, Eagles –3 1/2 at the Packers, Steelers –4 at the Browns, and the Broncos –3 1/2 at the Bills.

You’ll note that the lines all seem pretty competitive. In fact, no team is favored by as many as 7 points. The highest line is the Seahawks –6 1/2 against the Buccaneers.

Salmons said there was no hesitation to put up the lines before the draft.

“We usually go ahead with the Week 1 numbers as soon as they release the schedule,” he said. “It’s not like basketball where one player can make that big of a difference. Quarterback is the most important position, but even they don’t always play right away. We’ll adjust after the draft if we need to or if there’s a big trade.”

Salmons said the popular over/under NFL season win totals will be up by 3 p.m. Sunday with the Hilton’s “Games of the Years” – which include all Sunday and Monday night games as well as other marquee matchups each week – probably toward the end of May.

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