from Patrick Everson
FOX sports gambling writer
There’s no real debate about which game is the biggest in the NFL betting market this week. How can you argue otherwise when you have two first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks facing each other?
You know what’s even better? People on both sides of the counter have a lot to say about Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
The following are insights into that matchup and a few more betting nuggets regarding Week 3 NFL odds and Week 4 college football odds.
Rodgers vs. Brady
Sharp punters won’t always get it right. If they did, they’d all be millionaires. But they put a lot more time and effort into analytics, analytics, models and the like. So they tend to make much more informed bets than… well, me, you and most sports bettors.
One professional bettor I contact regularly feels great about the Saints +3 on the spread last week. But the Buccaneers defense had another strong effort and New Orleans lost 20-10.
Still, the sharpshooter is doing well in fading the Bucs again this week. Tampa Bay’s wide receiver corps is either suspended (Mike Evans) or has injury issues (Chris Godwin/Julio Jones). And the Bucs’ offensive line is also taking a hit heading into this national telecast on FOX at 4:25 PM ET Sunday.
“Tampa’s O-line is a disaster. Green Bay is the game. I took the Packers opening +3,” he said. “Green Bay is solid in the trenches on both sides. Brady has guns, hit and hang.’
You can no longer get the Packers +3 as this line was only available at the beginning of the week. Depending on where you bet, Green Bay is now a 1.5 point or 1 point underdog because the smart guys didn’t stop at +3.
“We took a bet from a respected Packers +2 player on Tuesday,” said WynnBet dealer John Manica, noting his store is among those with the Packers at +1.
An unusual situation
Most oddsmakers will need the Indianapolis Colts this weekend to rally and perform against the Kansas City Chiefs. Rex Beyers, now head of betting at PlayUp USA after previous stops at The SuperBook and Caesars Sports, among others, expects to be in the rare spot of need for the Chiefs.
“The Colts looked absolutely awful and terrible. They’re crushed and they weren’t very good last week,” Beyers said, referring to Indy’s stunning 24-0 loss in Jacksonville. “Now the Colts head home against a team coming off of extra time off.”
Indeed, KC defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in a Week 2 game on Thursday night. Still, the Colts received strong interest in the PlayUp.
“If you gave me one team to win the Super Bowl right now, I’d take the Chiefs,” Beyers said. “My power rating makes this game Chiefs -6. But there’s an All-Star team of smarts on the “dog” at +6.5 and +6, and that’s why this game is at 5.5. As it stands now, we’ll need the Chiefs, so we’ll be in the minority. It could change, but I don’t think it will.”
The game starts at 1:00 PM ET.
“It’s going to be a game where we have to hang in there and hope the Colts are as bad as we think they are,” Beyers said, while noting that Indianapolis might actually be that bad. “The number is large. This is a Colts team that was embarrassed last week and I would expect a tremendous effort from them.”
High flying fouls
Everyone knows Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills can score points. But people realized in the fourth quarter of Miami’s Week 2 upset of Baltimore that the Dolphins can score, too. Trailing 35-14 entering the fourth quarter, Tua Tagovailoa & Co. scored four touchdowns and won 42-38.
This resulted in a significant change in the total.
The Bills-Dolphins total opened between 50 and 51 per [last week’s] projected numbers,” WynnBet’s Manica said. “Then we saw the Dolphins show some late offense, paired with the Bills [41-7] victory over the Titans and substantial Over movement happened quickly to 54.”
There was some resistance after the total reached 54, bringing the total down to 52.5 by midweek.
“I believe most models have that total lower since it will be two divisional opponents. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this close below the current market of 52.5 or 53,” Manika said.
Back to school
We’re interrupting all that NFL coverage to bring you the nuggets of college football Week 4 odds. Fourth-seeded Michigan aims to continue its Big Ten opener at home against fellow undefeated Maryland at noon ET Saturday on FOX.
WynnBet opened the Wolverines as 17.5-point home favorites, dropped to -17 almost immediately on Sunday night, then dropped to -16.5 shortly after. WynnBet is still at -16.5 while most sportsbooks are at -17.
“We wrote a significant number of tickets to Michigan at prices below the current market of -17,” Manica said. “Michigan has faced weak opponents and faces a step up in competition. I believe you’ll see money flow into Maryland if the market goes past 17, and probably a lot of Michigan backers at any number lower than that.”
Sunday night shuffle
Okay, back to the NFL. One of the biggest lineup changes of the week so far comes in Sunday night’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. Denver opened as a 2.5-point consensus favorite, but the line jumped the fence by Monday and San Fran is now -1.5.
And this is after the Niners lost starting QB Trey Lance for the season after he suffered a broken ankle last weekend. The aforementioned sharpshooter certainly likes the 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo back under center.
“I took San Francisco +2.5 when it opened,” he said. “Before the season, I mentioned what Russell Wilson is to Denver – a below-average QB. Denver has also been hit. And the 49ers are better off with Jimmy G at QB.”
WynnBet’s Manica also noted early Niners love this week.
“The Broncos haven’t passed the eye test in their two games against what most would consider two of the weaker teams in the NFL,” Manica said, alluding to the loss in Seattle and the struggle to beat visiting Houston. “We see a step up in competition for the Broncos against a healthy 49ers team. San Francisco is a corner that many people like. The team is helped in some ways by losing Lance, as it narrows the scoring gap they would have with a younger point guard.
“Jimmy G has a strong record under Shanahan and will look to capitalize as the Broncos are still trying to figure it out with the new pieces they have in place.”
Chargers‘ QB predicament
Justin Herbert looked pretty good in Thursday night’s Week 2 game in Kansas City. He gave the Chargers the lead in the fourth quarter before throwing an interception that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Los Angeles went on to lose 27-24, even though the Bolts covered them as 4-point underdogs.
But late in the game, Herbert suffered a rib cartilage injury and it remains unclear if he will play in Sunday’s 4:05 PM ET kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, several sportsbooks are offering the Jaguars-Chargers game, with Los Angeles the consensus 7-point home favorite. The Bears are having none of it, with Herbert too valuable to the spread to consider posting a line in this game, just yet.
“I wouldn’t want to book the Chargers until I know if the quarterback is playing. I’m not in the business of playing 50/50 with the NFL,” Beyers said. “We’re not going to release this game until we know who’s playing. The line and total will not close near the current 7 and 47.5. The spread will be 3 points higher or 3 points lower depending on whether Herbert plays.”
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and a senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He previously worked for Covers and is a well-known journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys playing golf in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.
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