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NFL: Opening Line Report - Week 7

NFL: Opening Line Report - Week 7

Opening Line Report - Week 7
By Stephen Nover

LAS VEGAS – The human statue, Brad Johnson, is back.

The 40-year-old, 15-year NFL veteran is now the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. It was a busy Monday morning for bookmakers following the news that Tony Romo is out an estimated four weeks because of a broken pinkie on his throwing hand.

Some books opened Dallas as high as 11-point road favorites against St. Louis before taking the game down based on the Romo news.

The oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants initially suggested an opening line of Dallas minus 9 ½ with an ‘over/under’ of 48 ½. Now their recommendation is Cowboys minus six and a total of 44 ½.

Ed Salmons, sports book manager at the Las Vegas Hilton, said the adjustment from Romo to Johnson against the Rams is worth between three and four points with the total being lowered between 5 ½ and six points.

“The Rams look to be a completely different team with a new coach (Jim Haslett),” he said.

Only half of the 14 NFL games were up on the betting board Monday afternoon. Bookmakers were awaiting more definite news on quarterbacks Trent Edwards (concussion), Carson Palmer (elbow), Matt Hasselbeck (knee) and Jon Kitna (back).

The Houston Texans host Detroit. The highest the Texans ever have been favored in their franchise history is seven points. That was last year versus Jacksonville in the regular-season finale when the Jaguars rested many of their starters in anticipation of the playoffs.

LVSC senior oddsmaker Mike Seba said the difference between Kitna and backup Dan Orlovsky is one-half-to-one point. If Kitna can’t go, Seba said the Texans could be favored by 8 ½ or nine points.

The Lions have yet to win this season in five games. They have been outscored by 83 points. But Seba said he would be reluctant to lay so many points with Houston.

“I wouldn’t want to lay more than seven with the Texans,” he said. “You just can’t trust them. It is uncharted waters for them.”

There were a number of three-point spreads. That’s the margin Miami is favored over Baltimore, Chicago is favored over Minnesota, Carolina is favored over New Orleans, the visiting New York Jets are favored over Oakland and New England is favored over Denver in the Monday night matchup.

Seba was prepared to make the Patriots a bigger favorite until New England laid an egg in the Sunday night game to San Diego, losing 30-10.

There’s probably a greater possibility of some of these matchups, especially the Broncos-Patriots, closing at 3 ½ rather than 2 ½.

“It’s obvious New England is not as bad as it looked against San Diego,” Seba said.

Seba thought the right number should be Patriots minus 3 ½ considering Denver’s multiple injuries on offense.

It wouldn’t surprise Seba if Miami closed minus 2 ½ against Baltimore. The Dolphins’ lone victory last season came against the Ravens. So Baltimore has a revenge motive for this non-division contest. Baltimore also is giving up the fewest yards per game.

“I think you either take three or leave the game alone,” Seba said. “Any time you can get three with a defense this good against Miami, it’s tempting.”

It appears Indianapolis has settled in as a one-point road favorite versus Green Bay. Some books opened the Packers minus one on Sunday night. LVSC’s recommendation was pick’em, although Seba didn’t agree.

“I think the Colts should be favored, although by less than three,” he said.

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Re: NFL: Opening Line Report - Week 7

Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo

Last year we tracked the opening steam movements of lines in both college football and the NFL. The idea was to see if the "sharp" money was really that, or if the idea of trailing these severe early line movements was merely a myth.

Here is the basic methodology. If a line starts as Penn State (-1) and moves to Penn State (-4) then we're going to track Penn State as our side, because the Lions are getting all of the money and driving the spread up. If the line starts as Penn State (-4) and then moves to Penn State (-2) we're going to track the opponent because they are taking the heavy action and it's moving the line lower.

Over the last two weeks the "sharps" and early line moves have posted a combined 4-15 ATS mark. Last weekend just three of the 11 early line moves posted in this space saw their squad cover the line. And that includes posting USC as a victory (we had them posted at -26.5) even though the line continued to trend upward and eventually closed at -28.5. For the 2008 season the Early Line Movements have gone 27-29 in seven weeks of tracking both college and the pros. That also runs the two-year total on these situations to 50-47.

Here are this week's games:


Connecticut at Rutgers

Open: Rutgers -3.5
Current: Connecticut -1.0
Tracking: Connecticut

Not a lot of faith in the Rutgers camp these days. The Scarlet Knights are 1-5 and in the midst of a full-blown mutiny against sagging quarterback Mike Teel. Over 70 percent of the early action is on the Huskies, who have gone 5-0-1 ATS in this series. The only issue I have is that the Scarlet Knights have played better. They have covered their last two games at Cincy and at West Virginia and their last three games against D-I teams have been on the road. Connecticut is still going with a backup quarterback and Rutgers is in Desperation Mode.

Georgia Tech at Clemson
Open: Clemson -4.0
Current: Georgia Tech -1.0
Tracking: Georgia Tech

Looks like Tommy Bowden was worth about five points. I'm assuming that the line movement is because sharps and oddsmakers don't think that the players and coaches can handle the shakeup at the top. But what they fail to account for is the fact that Bowden was a terrible in-game coach and he obviously wasn't getting to his players. Georgia Tech is tough. But Clemson is clearly more talented. Bowden's outster could be just the thing to snap them out of it. Georgia Tech was terrible against Gardner Webb last week (10-7 win), has played three straight at home, and got demolished 31-7 in their last trip to Clemson. Further, the underdog is 12-1 ATS in this series.

Kansas at Oklahoma
Open: Oklahoma -14.0
Current: Oklahoma -19.0
Tracking: Oklahoma

The expectation is clearly that the Sooners are going to come back with a vengeance after their stunning loss to rival Texas. And why not? Oklahoma is 7-3 ATS the week after playing the Longhorns. They handled the Jayhawks in Lawrence last year, and they are clearly the more physically imposing team. That said, this is a whole lotta points to lay. The Jayhawks are 20-6 ATS in their last 26 games and have been a great underdog.

Army at Buffalo
Open: Buffalo -16.0
Current: Buffalo -10.0
Tracking: Army

Whereas the early action suggests a Sooners bounce back, they are looking for a Buffalo letdown. The Bulls suffered a devastating overtime loss at home last week against Western Michigan. And that came just two weeks after a grueling two-point loss at Central Michigan. And at 2-4 the Bulls are now large favorites over an Army team off three straight covers, two straight wins, and playing its best ball of the year. It's a tough spot for Buffalo. But this team is much, much better than its record suggests.

Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky
Open: Florida Atlantic -4.0
Current: Western Kentucky -1.0
Tracking: Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers are still searching for that first D-IA win. They actually outplayed Ball State, a Top 25 club, last week but were done in by turnovers inside the red zone. They are also getting a crack here at a Florida Atlantic team that was overwhelmed at home in primetime last week, and an Owls group that has severely underachieved to this point in the season. This is a tricky spot and really a tough one to call. But the sharps seem to have made their position very clear.


Dallas at St. Louis

Open: Dallas -9.0
Current: Dallas -7.0
Tracking: St. Louis

Right now this game is a middlers dream. I have seen the Cowboys posted as low as a six-point favorite and as high as an 11-point chalk. The line fluctuation is a result of Tony Romo's broken pinky. That, coupled with St. Louis' inspired performance against Washington over the weekend gives the Rams the illusion of a live dog. However, St. Louis is still 30th in total offense and 31st in total defense. One last-second win against Washington doesn't gloss over the real issues with this club.

Indianapolis at Green Bay
Open: 'Pick'
Current: Indy -1.0
Tracking: Indy

About 80 percent of the early action here is on the Colts, who absolutely overwhelmed a Baltimore team that had been overrated. Granted, the Colts are getting healthy at the right time. But they are a couple fluke plays away from being 1-4 instead of 3-2. Green Bay is just as dicey. They did blow out Seattle in one of the toughest venues in the league to play in. But everyone blows out Seattle these days. Neither team stops the run and both have prolific offensive attacks. Should be fun to watch. But not that enjoyable to bet.

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