Ken Blaze, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (65) and defensive end Nate Orchard (44).
- Las Vegas sportsbooks have liability on a few surprising teams, including the Cardinals, Dolphins and Browns.
- John Murray of the Westgate believes some of the support for the Browns came as a result of "Hard Knocks."
It is always interesting to see which teams are drawing the most betting interest before an NFL season.
Sure, the Patriots, Packers and Cowboys always attract a lot of action, but what other teams are moving the needle in Vegas?
According to Tim Fitzgerald, a longtime sportsbook supervisor at the South Point in Las Vegas, respected money has forced the book to move several season win totals it didn’t see coming.
“Our over sharp plays have caused us to move Baltimore from 8 to 8.5, Indianapolis from 6.5 to 7.5, Miami from 6 to 7 and — the most surprising one to us — Jacksonville, who remains at 9 but may have to be adjusted before Week 1,” he said.
South Point’s key under action has caused significant juice adjustment for Denver (7.5) and San Francisco (8.5). The biggest mover of them all has been the Buffalo Bills, who went from 7.5 to 5.5 wins.
“This is a huge move, which is mostly a response to the injury to quarterback AJ McCarron,” Fitzgerald said. “This kind of movement reminds me of the significant drop the New York Jets took last year, going from 5.5 wins to as low as 3 in some books.”
He added that, as of now, South Point will lose the most on Buffalo under 5.5 wins, Detroit over 7.5 wins and Seattle under 7.5 wins (still 8 in some locations).
John Murray, manager at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, has different concerns.
“Our action has been on Miami over 6.5 (an increase from an opening line of 6), Arizona over 6 (from 5.5), Carolina under 8.5 (from 9) and Cleveland under 6 (actually UP from 5.5), among others,” Murray said.
“Miami was a popular play last year, too, but their season fell apart without QB Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins are a popular bounce-back pick, and I can see why, with teams like the Bills taking a step back from last year’s playoff run and the Jets still in rebuild mode. I still think it will be tough for Miami to get to seven wins,” he added.
An interesting situation occurred for Murray when the Westgate hung the Cardinals at 5.5.
“I actually had to make the rounds on the Arizona sports talk radio stations explaining why we supported this total,” he said. “They were furious with us.”
Support at the book has been steadily positive for the Cards so far.
“Arizona has been a popular play ever since the line came out,” he said. “The number has been pushed up from 5.5 to 6. I still see the Cardinals as a rebuilding team with a rookie head coach and, potentially, a rookie quarterback. The Rams, Seahawks and 49ers all look better than Arizona. This could be a long year for them. Although I do like Josh Rosen a lot.”
As for the Browns, Hollywood is playing a role in their popularity at the book. Cleveland is featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this summer, creating a bandwagon effect.
“This may be one year too soon for Cleveland in terms of a playoff berth, but I am comfortable booking their season win total to need the over,” Murray said.