Thursday, Dec 8th
Bye Week:
Saints
Colts
Commanders
Packers
Bears
Falcons

Early Bets. 8.21.

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!

+EV LINES (Week 8)::

BUCCANEERS (-4.5) @ SAINTS:

This line feels correct as currently set but we have two key members on the Tampa Bay side that should return to action this week after missing Week 7, in Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. The early week line of 4.5 has the unknowns surrounding both of their statuses baked in, which gives us a good bit of expected value should they return to practice this week.

COWBOYS @ VIKINGS (Over 52.5):

I have this line about two to three points too low currently. The kicker is that the juice is currently on the under, meaning additional expected value if you get in now before the line moves. This is a great example of mispricing with a team (in this case, both teams) coming off a bye week. Simple pricing psychology.

LIONS (+3.0) vs Eagles

Admittedly, this line would feel a great deal safer with the addition of the hook, but we have a few aspects working in our favor for the Lions here:

(1) The strength of the Eagles defense this season resides on the perimeter, while they are extremely porous over the middle.

(2) The Lions have shown us that they will pull out all the stops in order to get their first win, as evidenced by their Week 7 game against the Rams.

(3) The Lions offense biases production over the middle of the field to the running backs – both on the ground and through the air – and to TJ Hockenson.

(4) The Lions are poor against the run and league-average against the pass.

(5) The Eagles have zero run game.

Although this line is unlikely to move much throughout the week, we’re currently presented with an interesting opportunity to bet on the aggression of the Lions before the masses realize just how badly they want that first win.

HONORABLE MENTIONS::

PACKERS (+3.5) @ ARIZONA:

The 6-1 Packers travel to the valley of the sun to take on the 7-0 Cardinals in a game with high playoff implications. There are two primary reasons why the value lies with the road underdog here: short week football carries a wider range of potential outcomes so capturing the points with the hook brings additional value; secondly, the Cardinals should be expected to run fewer offensive plays than a standard week against a Packers offense that ranks second in the league in average time of possession per drive. Take the points in a game that should be closer to a “pick ‘em.”

RAMS @ TEXANS (Over 45.5):

The average points scored per game in the NFL in 2020 was 49.4. The Rams average 29.8 points per game in 2021, while the Texans give up an average of 28.7 points per game. The line on this game is currently set at 14.5 points, meaning Los Angeles’ Vegas implied team total is currently 29 points, right in line with how many they have scored this season. But where it becomes interesting is the fact that the Rams have scored 26 or more points in all but one game thus far (their blowout loss to the Cardinals, where the time of possession was the biggest issue), while the Rams have given up 14 or more points to all but one opponent. So, as opposed to thinking about this game total as pure points, we should feel confident in simplifying it to “do we think the Texans score 10 or more points in this spot more than half of the time?” Against a now run-funnel Rams defense, I like the Texans to put up double-digit points here. The final piece of the puzzle is the unlikeliness of this game total to move lower as the week progresses.