Bring it on, NFL opening night game Ravens vs. Broncos

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I was kind of shocked not to see too much movement around town on the Broncos 9-point spread over the Ravens after the announcement of Von Miller’s suspension for the first six games of the season.

I won’t go as far as saying Miller is worth as much as Peyton Manning, but his effect on a Broncos game is huge, and goes far beyond what any stat will tell us. He makes the defense better every time he’s on the field simply because he forces a quarterback to throw the ball sooner, which in turn allows the weak Broncos secondary to not be as exposed as much by covering receivers longer.

In addition to shortening the coverage time, Miller also creates turnovers and forces opponents to use extra players to block him. Now, the Ravens can go in to Denver and play the Broncos as if they’re game planning for San Diego’s defense, and Miller’s replacement is former aging Charger, Shaun Phillips.

This spread was too high to begin with. I don’t buy all the hype spewed about the Ravens losing too many players. It actually might be a positive by having so much turnover. It seems like every other year, a Super Bowl champion doesn’t make the playoffs.

Most of that is because of all the hype that comes with winning the Super Bowl where it’s hard to get 22 players coming back with that same hunger for winning after they’ve written books, or put on a few pounds while celebrating for six months.

With the Ravens, they get new hungry players while still maintaining the core of having their head coach, quarterback and star running back all returning. In addition, they bring in pass-rush specialist Elvis Dumervil on defense, which not only gives Baltimore a boost, but it also makes the favored team in the AFC – Denver – weaker by losing him.

So who knows why no one is talking about Denver’s losses on defense as much as they are about Baltimore’s? Champ Bailey is only 50 percent this week, and if he plays, that’s even worse because he played the worst game of his career when healthy in his last outing during the playoffs against the Ravens. And while the Broncos lose Dumervil, let’s not forget about who they do have coming back.

We’ll start with Rahim Moore, the soft-hitting, bad tackling safety who allowed Jacoby Jones to get behind him and score the game-tying touchdown late in last year’s AFC Championship game. Had I never seen the 9 points offered on the game, and saw a 7 for the first time, I would be jumping at it.

Look for the game to come down to the wire with Manning having the opportunity to win in the final minute. Because it’s not the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manning get the dramatic win, but those holding tickets with the Ravens at +9 should get paid.

Week 1 college to bettors: College football favorites went 24-19 ATS (not including extra games) over the four-day opening weekend, but it was only three games going 3-0 that did the Las Vegas sports books in and sent the majority of them to a losing day.

The books had been eagerly waiting for football to come back as baseball has been torturing them for the last two months, but it wasn’t supposed to go like this.

The big games on Saturday that did the damage began with Alabama beating Virginia Tech, 35-10, and covering the large 21-point spread, a number that by kickoff got as high as -22½ at some books. Then another popular SEC team, LSU beat TCU, 37-27, covering the 4½-point spread with a touchdown late in the game. Next up, with the possibility of paying out large 6-to-1 3-team parlays and higher, was Northwestern as a 6-point favorite at Cal.

The books got lucky in a similar final game situation on Thursday night when Hawaii scored a last-minute back door TD to cover +23½ in a 30-13 loss to USC. The momentum from six of the first seven favorites on the day covering was coming in strong with the public all waiting to cash big on USC laying the points. On Saturday night, just about everything live was going into Northwestern for the final payout, and the bettors cashed big as the Wildcats came away with an impressive 44-30 win.

“Alabama was the core game, the root that continued to grow throughout the day,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne. “If Virginia Tech would have covered that game, we might have shown a profit because the risk would have been far less in the late games.

“I knew coming into Saturday what we were going to need, and we didn’t get any of those three games,” said Osborne. “Over the course of the day, we even had another game added to the mix that became very large with everyone on UCLA, which means our top four worst games of the day all came through for the public.”

MGM Resorts race and sports book vice-president Jay Rood informed us his books all along the Strip were roughed up by the same 3-team parlay on Saturday that also beat the South Point.

On Sunday, Osborne took the loss over the weekend well and was optimistic about football just being back.

“You know what though, I’m very happy about how the day went. Sure, I would have liked to win, but I was greatly encouraged by the high handle on the day and how full our room was. Football is back!”

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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