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!
This is a super unique week, from both a betting perspective and DFS perspective. We currently have FOUR games with a spread of 9.5 or more (!!!), with the Packers favored by 9.5 at home against the Football Team, the Buccaneers favored by 13.5 at home against the Bears, the Rams favored by 15.5 at home against the Lions, and the Cardinals favored by 17.0 at home against the Texans. At this rate, the NFL might pull the Jaguars off their bye to send them on the road (kidding). But what does that mean to us as bettors? It means finding positive expected value spots is a little more difficult than normal this week. As such, we don’t have a bonus pick and the “honorable mentions” sections is a little more barren than usually. I wanted to drop a quick note because I would rather have less picks than force ones in that weren’t to the same level of process-fitting, +EV plays.
Although this one seems a little chasey, with the Falcons coming off a bye and the Dolphins coming off a loss to the Jaguars, we have two boosts to expected value on the side of the Falcons: (1) a bye week for Russell Gage and Calvin Ridley to heal up and (2) a line that resides on the near side of the “magic spread with the hook” range. Put those both together, and I like the positive expected value on a line that appears likeliest to move in the direction of the away favorite.
Because this line falls just outside the first “magic spread with a hook” range, it would be likeliest to move in favor of the favorites as the week moves on. In all honesty, this line feels properly set, and we might not see much line movement here, but it does meet our criteria for early-week +EV hunting.
The honorable mentions this week are those games that fit our criteria, but that I’m personally a little less confident in. If you take away the name of each team, however, all of these fall under the same criteria we’ve used up to this point so far this season. It just feels a little gross.
The lack of the hook, with a spread falling within the magic range, is worth about 4% to the bettor. That said, there are more things that could fall on the side of the Giants that have me a little worried that public perception might make this line disobey the general laws of betting that we have dug so thoroughly into this year. As in, if Saquon Barkley somehow returns, it might shrink the line to closer to a pick ‘em. As things stand now, there is expected value in a favorite without the hook landing in the magic range of NFL betting.
Magic spread with a hook range historically favors the underdog. This is one of those that is difficult to stomach when you look at the names of the teams playing. Historically, the expected value is on the side of the underdog.
Another one, just a little more gross. I don’t know many people in the world that are excited to bet real American dollary-doos (shoutout to all my parents out there that watch Bluey, because that show rages) on anything pro-Jets, but here we are. The numbers don’t lie, it’s just hard to abide by them sometimes. This is one of those times.