Published Monday Afternoon
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!
Two teams that flipped their respective scripts over the span of a single week. New Orleans is fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Panthers, a game in which they managed a meager seven points. On the other side, New England is coming off a statement win against the lowly Jets in which they didn’t allow a single touchdown. What will be missed by most is the fact that the Saints just played without seven of their offensive coaching staff and numerous injuries along all areas of their defense, including their top linebacker and top cover corner. I expect this game to move closer to a “pick ‘em” as the week progresses, presenting a solid +EV scenario early in the week.
This line might move the dreaded hook (half a point in the direction of the favorite) before this article is even released, which would leave me far less interested. Some might be worried about the points allowed from Week 2 from this Cardinals defense, but you must take both weeks into account when analyzing why the outcomes were so different. The Cards possess one of the top pass rushes in the league, which was able to generate enough pressure in Week 2 to mask their deficiencies in the second level. Minnesota was well equipped to get the ball out quick and aggressive enough to hit on a couple deep strikes to mask their own offensive line deficiencies. The Jags? Not so much. What we’ve seen over the first two weeks is a coaching staff ill-prepared for the specific opponent, forcing an insane situation-neutral pass rate from a rookie quarterback behind an atrocious offensive line. Yikes alert for a game against the vaunted pass rush of the Cardinals. On the other side, we’ve seen what Kyler and this offense are capable of, which entirely outmatches the defensive efforts from the Jags. Feel confident in this line early in the week before it adds the hook.
The way this game sets up tilts toward the pass on both sides, with Miami boasting a top defensive line and trash offensive line, and Las Vegas boasting a trash offensive line and improving defensive line. The big unknown here is the prospective health of Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who left Week 2’s contest with what is currently being called bruised ribs. The MRI is set for tomorrow, after which the line on this game should move one way or the other. There are two ways to play this from an EV perspective: (1) wait for the news and hope the over/under moves down throughout the week as it appears more and more likely Tua misses, or (2) bet the over now with basically two outs to expected value. Regardless of how you choose to approach it, the game sets up well to the over, but there is a chance public sentiment drives the line lower Monday through Thursday as more news comes out surrounding Tua. My preference is to bet it now because it gives you two outs to the over: if Tua is fine and plays this game, or he misses and the Dolphins get a full week to prepare with Jacoby Brissett under center against a weak defense.
CHI @ CLE U 46.5
WFT @ BUF U 46.5
BAL @ DET U 49
The theme of the “Honorable Mentions” this week is moderate-to-high game totals in games with large spreads. Typically, we see the game totals fall throughout the week in games with large spreads as sharp money comes in on the under. Games with this setup historically give you additional outs to the under (and additional EV!) early in the week.