The NFL announced its 2018 regular season schedule on Thursday and within minutes the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had spreads and totals posted on every Week 1 game, which begins Thursday, Sept. 6, with the Falcons getting +4 at Philadelphia and a total set at 47.
Several other books around town posted their numbers on Friday and over the weekend. Expect season win totals soon at the South Point and look for Week 2-16 spreads to be posted over the next month at CG Technology sportsbooks.
We’ve got all summer to talk about the NFL season, but this week the NFL Draft takes center stage with the first round happening Thursday night from Arlington, Texas. The only reason I have more interest than usual is because of bets being taken at several Las Vegas books on props they’ve offered. Last season was the first time the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved wagers to be taken on the draft and it turned out to be a success for the books that took part in it.
This season, bettors have taken the wagering to another level, quickly moving several numbers offered, as draft experts with every major news outlook share differing opinions with the No. 1 pick and where the top-10 rated players are going. ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper can’t even agree.
“The biggest move, or most action, we’ve had so far was the prop asking who would get drafted first,” said SuperBook assistant manager Jeff Sherman. “We opened Josh Rosen -300 over Saquon Barkley (+250) and it’s flipped the other way with Barkley now being the -150 favorite.”
That’s a significant swing. Sherman said they took seven dime ($1,000) bets to move the number that much and they’ve been aggressive with the moves. McShay has Barkley going No. 2 to the Giants and Kiper has Rosen going No. 5 to the Broncos. But you can’t trust those draft experts entirely because they’re dealing with team sources giving smoke screens and misinformation in order to gain an edge against other teams.
The largest line move of all was which QB would get drafted first, Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, which opened as a pick ‘em.
“Lamar Jackson was moved all the way to -900, but it was moved aggressively,” said Sherman. “We only took a couple bets on Jackson and went to -500 quickly and then Ed (Salmons, SuperBook manager) moved it quickly to -900.”
The large number of quality quarterbacks in this draft perhaps make the most interesting prop and the SuperBook first offered 5.5 Over -140 as the number of QBs picked in the first round. It’s been bet Under, moving both the number and price to 5 Over -200. There’s Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Rosen, Jackson and Rudolph as six possibilities while Washington State’s Luke Falk has caught the eye of several scouts. Six QBs in the first round? Sure, why not.
The team I’m most excited about Thursday is the Cleveland Browns who have the first overall pick and also the fourth. Their luck has been so bad drafting QBs since getting Bernie Kosar in the 1985 supplemental draft that picking two QBs within the top-four would increase their odds of not failing with a dud like happened with Tim Couch in 1999 when he was the first overall selection. Brady Quinn didn’t work out in 2007 and Johnny Manziel in 2014 had similar results.
Actually, the Browns have been awful with the first pick almost every season since drafting offensive tackle Joe Thomas with the third pick overall in 2007. How about the Browns just taking the best player available in each, or trade for more picks and play the Patriots’ game of just winning in the draft by sheer numbers. In the off-season, they’ve been busy adding QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Jarvis Landry, and former Buckeye RB Carlos Hyde to the roster. Forget a QB in the draft, Cleveland, get some beef on each side of the line.
King dethroned early? I have no problem saying LeBron James is the best basketball player I’ve ever seen and that includes growing up in the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson era that rolled into the Michael Jordan era. They’re all greats, but LeBron is just a freak of nature with the unique combination of size and speed.
But of course, he can’t do it all himself and right now he’s in a first-round battle tied 2-2 with the Indiana Pacers, with Game 5 at Cleveland (-6.5, 205) on Wednesday. LeBron making the NBA Finals for the eighth straight season seems like a real long shot. However, the Cavs are still big favorites to win the series. The SuperBook opened Cleveland -700/+500 and now it’s -400/+300. The Cavs won and covered at Indiana on Sunday for the first time in four games this season. Indiana is now 6-2 ATS this season against the Cavs.
NBA wants royalty fee! “It’s a ‘sports betting rights and integrity’ fee,” said Dan Spillane, assistant general counsel of the NBA, on Friday in Las Vegas. “It’s a royalty in a way… These are our games. (They) are the backbone of the whole business of sports betting, and we think it makes sense for us to be compensated. We’ve invested billions of dollars in creating this product. You can’t have sports betting without our game. We generate a lot of fan interest… that translates into people participating in sports betting. We think it’s reasonable for us to be compensated for that input just like every other supplier.”
As much as I’d love to see betting legalized across the entire nation, I’m getting more and more skeptical of how the leagues and clueless politicians are going to eventually ruin things for us in Nevada. I’m at the point where PASPA is sounding like a good deal for Nevada and the heck with the other 49 states.
It would also be appropriate at that juncture for Nevada to start charging the NBA an integrity fee for being the watchdog of what is happening in the betting world on their games. That means all the NGCB agents and every casino that abides by minimum internal control standards should get a cut.
No NBA, you pay us!