Why does Vegas set lines? What is their goal? Well, Vegas sets lines in an attempt to get exactly half of the action on each side of every line they post. In this case, they take the rake, guarantee a profit, and move on. So, does that mean Vegas lines are perfectly set? Furthermore, does it mean they are always perfectly set early in the week? No! Every week this season (starting Week 2), we’ll be jumping into early-week betting line inefficiencies to take advantage of before they move. This line movement can be caused by a number of factors, but the primary reasons for movements after initial line release are public sentiment and recency biases (shark money typically doesn’t come in until later in the week, when bettors have more complete information). With that, let’s jump in!
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Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill were both added to the COVID list early this week and reports from Kansas City suggest there are numerous additional players set to join them. The Steelers find themselves half a game back from the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC in what is likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final season, adding a bit of desperation factor into a road matchup with the Chiefs. Considering the high-profile additions to the COVID list and tight AFC playoff picture, I expect this line to move in favor of the Steelers as the week progresses, providing us with a solid +EV situation early in the week.
This one involves a little bit of Game Theory and reading between the lines (stay with me here). Kansas City is this week’s hotbed of COVID list additions, with double-digit players testing positive through Monday and Tuesday, and more additions likely as the week progresses. Who did the Chiefs play on Thursday of last week? Yeah, the Chargers. In addition to being more contagious, the Omicron COVID variant is said to carry a “reduced incubation period,” meaning it is likely we see members of the Chargers test positive over the coming days leading to their Sunday battle with the Texans. This simply provides us with “additional outs” on the side of the Texans with the points, giving us a solid +EV bet early in the week.
With Jared Goff on the COVID list, it is likely we see Tim Boyle start for the Lions this week against the Falcons. In his only start of the season, the Lions managed only 10 points, a dip to their already-modest scoring average this season of 17.4 points per game. The Falcons average only 18.4 points per game. We should expect a run-heavy approach from both teams here, with Jamaal Williams back from the COVID list and D’Andre Swift ready to resume practicing with his shoulder injury, and the Lions so clearly best attacked on the ground. Everything sets up for a low-scoring, grind-it-out style of game and we get early-week added value for the uncertainty surrounding the Lions quarterback situation.
The Rams suddenly find themselves just one game back of the NFC lead and tied with the Cardinals atop the NFC West with only three games to play, while the Vikings have played themselves into the seventh and final playoff spot in the NFC. To say this game is close to a must-win for both sides would be an understatement. We know the Vikings typically play to their opponent, and a game against the up-tempo and high-octane offense of the Rams is likely to lead to increased aggression sooner rather than later here. Expect points to be put up on the scoreboard.