NFL Openers: Baltimore Ravens start away

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We got our first real sign that the NFL season is right around the corner when the LVH Super Book posted their Week 1 sides and totals last Friday at noon.

This isn’t the biggest betting event the city has ever seen, but those numbers were the most talked about among bettors over the weekend at Las Vegas sports books across the city. While baseball is in full swing and the NBA playoffs are going on, thoughts on NFL games – with numbers attached – being played in early September were just as big a topic.

The LVH Super Book crew had to have their ratings already made prior to the NFL releasing their schedule last Thursday, which included massive adjustments due to coaching changes and free-agent additions and departures. After seeing the actual schedule, and then doing a little tinkering based on the matchup and home field advantage, they were able to post the numbers in only 16 hours of deliberation.

Thursday’s NFL draft will have little impact on any of these numbers. The last few seasons with rookie quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, we’ve seen a new revelation where young, poised QB’s can make huge differences – and be respected more by the oddsmakers, but there doesn’t appear to be any of those type of players in this draft.

The game that stirred the most reaction initially was the Ravens having to travel in their season debut – unlike any other recent Super Bowl champ, and of all places, Denver. Last season’s divisional playoff game – won 38-35 in overtime by the Ravens at Denver – had the Broncos as 9-point favorites. When the LVH crew debated what the number should be, they settled on Broncos -9½ with a total at 49½.

“The bottom line is Denver was a very good team that got better, while the Ravens lost a lot on both sides of the ball,” said LVH Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman, noting key players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams won’t be playing in this game.

“If the Broncos were 9-point favorites last season,” Sherman continued, “they should be right around that number this time around.”

Bettors immediately took the points with the Ravens, which dropped the number to Broncos -8½. The biggest move on the board was the Buccaneers moving from a 1-point dog at the Jets to pick ’em.

When the Jets traded All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis to the Buccaneers Sunday, the LVH reacted quickly – between bets on the Bucs and air moves – and settled on Tampa Bay at -2½ on Monday morning.

This wasn‘t initially thought of as a marquee game in Week 1, but the New York media will now have a field day with all the storylines in this one. As good as Revis is against every quarterback in the league, you have to think he knows Jets QB Mark Sanchez’s tendencies better than Sanchez himself or any opposing coach in the league does, considering he’s practiced against him all these years.

Some of the other interesting games have the Saints favored by 2½-points at home against the Falcons in a key division test. The Saints missed the playoffs last season with a 7-9 record amid all the suspensions of bounty-gate.

Coach Jay Payton returns from the year-long suspension, which should help make an immediate impact, and it has already on the number. When the two teams met in New Orleans on Nov. 11 last season, the Falcons were 1½-point road favorites.

The defending NFC Champion 49ers are 5½-point home favorites against the Packers in a rematch of last season’s divisional playoff game. The 49ers were 3-point favorites in that game, which they won, 45-31.

That was the game where Colin Kaepernick ran up and down the field all over the Packers defense, putting on one of the more unique playoff performances by a quarterback in NFL history.

There are two Monday night games again, with one being a highly anticipated contest between the Eagles and Redskins. The Redskins are 5½-point home favorites in this one, but the Chip Kelly variable makes this one of the tougher lines to post.

In two weeks, Cantor Gaming will release spreads on every game from the first 16 weeks of the season.

No Draft bets: Las Vegas sports books can’t take bets on the NFL Draft here in Nevada, but it doesn’t stop us from bar room banter where debates are always some of the most spirited when fans start talking about their team needs or an individual player.

Take Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o for example. If you ask most football fans whether or not he’ll be a first round draft pick, there’s a negative stigma attached to him because of being fooled in a hoax. “I wouldn’t want that guy running my defense,“ one fan might say, “if he can get fooled by a guy on-line claiming to be a girl, how’s he ever going to read play-action pass.”

Getting pushed around by Alabama’s offensive line in the biggest game of his career doesn’t help, either. But the reality is that if a line were placed on Te’o getting drafted as one of the 32 players picked in the first round, yes would be about a conservative – 150 favorite. Other players of intrigue are USC quarterback Matt Barkley and South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore.

The reason NFL Draft bets aren’t allowed by the Nevada Gaming Commission is simply because a select group of people know the answers to many of the props and would have a huge advantage against the sports books. If just one person knows what is going to happen, no bets can be offered. In this case, there are 32 executives that likely know what’s going to happen with their first selection.

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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