NFL Vegas Report: Oddsmakers Will Be Cheering for a Vikings Cover vs. Patriots
Brad Rempel, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs
- The uncertainty at QB for the Baltimore Ravens has contributed to the Atlanta Falcons going from underdogs to favorites in this game.
- The vibe around Vegas is that the Chicago Bears could be victims of the dreaded “trap game” against the New York Giants.
- Vegas books will be big Minnesota Vikings fans on Sunday, as the New England Patriots are drawing lopsided action coming off their blowout win over the Jets.
LAS VEGAS — Last week, Vegas books needed the underdog Broncos to pull the upset over Pittsburgh to “save us from a beating in the NFL,” according to Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading at William Hill.
This week, oddsmakers on the strip will need underdogs to be on their game again, namely Arizona +14 at Green Bay, Oakland +14 at home against Kansas City, and San Francisco +10 at Seattle.
Here are a few other games that bookmakers will be eyeing.
Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons (-1.5)
The Falcons shifted from being the underdog to the favorite in this game.
A potential reason for the sudden line swing: Bettors might have been expecting Ravens QB Joe Flacco to return from his injury, and while he has been practicing, it appears Lamar Jackson will get another start for Baltimore.
This will also mark Jackson’s first career road start, a fact that is not lost on Golden Nugget Sports Book Executive Director Tony Miller: “It’ll be interesting to see if coach John Harbaugh lets Jackson sling the ball around. He’s going to have to at some point because the more he tries to run, the shorter his career will get. Atlanta is a tough place to win historically and while this line originally opened at Ravens -3, it’s shifted all the way to Falcons -1.5. My feeling is the public just doesn’t have faith in Jackson yet and once Flacco was listed as doubtful, they jumped ship.”
Chuck Esposito, Sports Book Director at Sunset Station, thinks the big line shift is justified. “Lamar Jackson’s home wins were against Cincinnati and Oakland, two teams that don’t play much defense and Jackson was able to run freely with some success. While I don’t love the Falcons, I think being on the road will be much tougher and Atlanta is capable of putting up some big numbers.”
What would happen if Flacco, who has been practicing this week, is suddenly cleared to play? Esposito said the difference between the veteran Flacco and Jackson is around 5-6 points.
“If, by late Saturday or Sunday morning Flacco is somehow announced as playing, I think you could see the line shift back in Baltimore’s favor very quickly,” Esposito said. “If it does stay as Jackson at QB then don’t be surprised to see this line go to -2 or even -2.5.”
Chicago Bears (-3.5) at New York Giants
From the moment this line came out, action came in on the Giants. Why? Bears QB Mitch Trubisky will miss his second consecutive start, with Chase Daniel starting in his place.
Daniel didn’t look bad against the Lions last week, but it doesn’t appear he’s convinced bettors he belongs as the starter, either.
The other factor: Many people here are using the word “trap” to describe this spot. Bettors seem to think this could be a big letdown spot for Chicago. We discussed this last week with the Dolphins-Colts and Steelers-Broncos games, and the sharps were right in both spots. So it would be silly to not pay attention here.
“The Giants didn’t play all that badly last week losing to Philadelphia,” said Esposito. “I think Chicago could be looking ahead to its huge game vs. the Rams next week and might take the Giants a little too lightly. This game definitely looks a little ‘trappish’ to me and anything over a field goal presents some value on the Giants.”
At the Golden Nugget, Miller feels very much the same way. “This is a game you gotta keep your eye on. I see the Giants playing spoiler here. The Bears will likely be looking ahead to the Rams and even Minnesota later on. The Giants at home have played some opponents tough, and the general consensus of the public so far is they simply don’t have much faith in the Bears bringing their ‘A’ game. The line opened at -5.5 here and from the minute the line opened it’s been all Giants money. Not a ton of sharp money I’d say, but just steady bets.”
Interestingly, it looks like the sharps may be betting at William Hill as 67% of the bets there are on the Bears however, a staggering 97% of the money bet is on New York, suggesting there are some big bets being placed on the Giants.
Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots (-5)
The Vikings, coming off a solid win against Green Bay last week, head up to New England to play a Patriots team that’s posted impressive wins four of the past five weeks.
The upward trajectory of both teams has created balanced betting action at the Golden Nugget.
“This is a huge game for both teams,” says Miller. “We’re getting solid two-way action on this game. I am very much looking forward to watching this game and while I give the Patriots the edge I would not touch this game, it’s simply too many points for my taste.”
At the Westgate Superbook, Supervisor Derek Wilkinson thinks the Vikings are live in this game, “We’ve seen steady action on the Vikings so far, which pushed our line down from Pats -7 to currently -5.5 here. I wouldn’t be surprised if the line goes back up a little this weekend as the public has supported New England pretty heavily the past few weeks.”
Esposito also expects to see continued support for the Patriots. “I think we’re likely to be Vikings fans come Sunday. While I’m not totally surprised the line came down a little from the -7 we opened, I think this could be our biggest liability of the weekend and money will likely come back in on New England as we get closer to kickoff.”
At William Hill, the Patriots are getting 62% of the tickets written on them but a big 86% in money is also being bet on them.
Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
The combination of the Chargers’ very impressive win last week against Arizona combined with the Steelers’ disappointing loss in Denver is what’s likely keeping this line a bit lower than expected.
“This line would’ve gone higher if the Steelers didn’t play like they did last week,” Wilkinson said. “Meanwhile, the Chargers are sitting pretty at 8-3. I think the sharps are going to like Pittsburgh at home in a bounce-back game after losing to Denver. But so far we’ve barely seen any line movement in this game. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for. But if they do end up passing on the game I might not feel as confident on Pittsburgh.”
Miller thinks this is an opportunity for the Chargers to show they’re legit.
“This is a massive game for LA, they’re at 8-3 and they need to keep pace with KC,” Miller said. “If they can keep this game close into the fourth quarter you never know what can happen. The Steelers nearly blew the game in Jacksonville and DID blow the game last week in Denver where it should have been an easy win, so who knows? Pittsburgh is back home where they’ve played very well. While this line hasn’t moved at all, with the high-profile factor of the game and the fact it’s the Steelers, I think this line will creep up a bit by Sunday Night.”
At Stations, Espositio agreed: “I feel like anything above -3 is a value on the underdog. If I were betting the Chargers I’d probably wait until the last minute to get the most value.”