In the debut episode of The Action Network’s new podcast The Favorites, Bob “Scooch” Scucci, Director of Race and Sports for Boyd Gaming, joined Chad Millman and discussed line movement for Thursday’s NFL season opener between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles opened between -4.5 and -4 at most sportsbooks and the line has dropped to a consensus of -2.
What’s driving this movement?
According to Scooch, “Every year when the Super Bowl champs play this opening game, we always inflate this line a little bit, but usually it actually goes even further. So, obviously the public caught on. The wiseguys were always onto this.”
You can listen to Chad and Scooch discuss this game starting at the 9:41 mark of the episode.
Scooch elaborated that their ticket count on the game is relatively balanced, and it’s mostly sharp money driving the line move.
While Nick Foles starting over Carson Wentz certainly factors in as well, it’s interesting to note that professionals are fading Foles after his magical playoff run last year.
It might seem rare that a line moves against the defending Super Bowl champions in a season-opening game, but it’s not all that uncommon.
According to our Bet Labs database, which includes NFL line data from Pinnacle since the start of the 2003 season, Week 1 lines have moved against the reigning Super Bowl winner four times (-6 to -3, for example), compared to seven instances when it moved in that team’s direction (-3 to -6).
In fact, the line moved a full four points away from the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers in 2016’s Thursday night opener.
Similar to Thursday’s Falcons-Eagles matchup, the 2006 opener between the Dolphins and Steelers included a quarterback change when Charlie Batch got the start for Pittsburgh after Ben Roethlisberger underwent an emergency appendectomy days before the game.