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!
The Bills come into Week 6 with the number one ranked scoring offense and number one ranked scoring defense, a potent combination against a Titans team allowing 24th-ranked 26.0 points per game. Beyond the analytics, what we want to see out of our early-week bets is expected value, and based on public perception (Bills coming off a lopsided win against the Chiefs), the underlying metrics, and the fact that this is the Monday Night Football game this week (which allows additional time for line movement), it is likeliest this line moves heavier in favor of the Bills as the week progresses.
Again, we see a Cowboys line set to cater to public perception, when we know they have shifted their offense to a very run-centric juggernaut. Their opponent, the Patriots, have all but abandoned the run over the previous three weeks with a 63% situation-neutral pass rate, but Mac Jones holds 29th-ranked completed air yards per pass attempt at just 3.5, indicating an offense that is forced to march the field. New England’s defense ranks fifth in the league in scoring allowed per game at just 18.4, furthering the possibility each team sees stalled drives. I would set this line between 46.5-47.0, so take the additional padding and move on!
The biggest appeal here is the absence of the hook on the favorite against one of only two winless teams remaining in the NFL. Coming off an overtime loss against the Packers, look for the Bengals to place great importance on this game as they currently sit half a game behind the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North (Ravens are currently down 16-3 on MNF as I write this… ahem, 22-3). It is likeliest this line moves further towards the away favorite as the week progresses.
Sitting just above the “magic spread range with a hook,” the Packers present a situation where the line is likeliest to move in their favor as the week progresses. I expect to see Green Bay approach six to six-and-a-half-point favorites before Sunday.
Away favorite with no hook, making it likeliest the line moves further in favor of the away favorite. This one falls into “honorable mentions” because of the large spread on an away favorite, which is not typically a situation we like to find ourselves in.
Away favorite with no hook, making it likeliest the line moves further in favor of the away favorite. Jacksonville is in a world of hurt from a leadership perspective and until we see the locker room take the reins in that regard it is likely this team continues to struggle.
This line should be closer to a “pick ‘em” than it currently stands, leaving a good deal of value on the side of the Cardinals. The last remaining undefeated team in the league faces arguably its toughest opponent of the season, but the expected value in the points plus the hook is hard to ignore.