Whether you agree or not with a Federal Judge’s decision to nullify the NFL’s four game suspension on Tom Brady, one thing I think we can all agree upon is that our 2015 opening game experience will be much more exciting with Brady involved.
Roger Goodell is steaming mad about the decision to the point where he isn’t even going to show up for Thursday’s opener, but even he realizes that Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t have the sizzle needed for the brand in the kickoff to the season. This is why the Super Bowl champs kick off the season – sizzle, and to get everyone fired up for football.
When Thursday’s decision finally came down to put an end to Deflategate – it’s still really not over – that has been simmering since the AFC Championship game in January, it sent a major shockwave of adjusting by every sportsbook in Las Vegas.
The entire complexion of the AFC was altered at the Westgate SuperBook, beginning with the Patriots moving from a 3.5-point home favorite in Thursday’s opener against the Steelers to 7-point favorites.
The Patriots went from a season win total of 10 (OV -130) to 10.5 (OV -120) and went from 9-to-2 to win the AFC down to 3-1 to become co-favorites with the Colts. They also were moved from 10-1 to win the Super Bowl down to 8-1.
When looking back at how this entire Deflategate thing hogged the NFL headlines through spring and summer, I can’t help but think it was all by design. By keeping such a silly thing in the headlines that had gripped every NFL fan and all of the media with daily reports, it was kind of a distraction to the hard hitting question the media was routinely pounding the NFL with in regards to concussions.
The NFL was in a no-win situation with concussions, but by delaying so long with a deflated football scandal involving its biggest star, they were able to straddle the entire off-season with a puff piece where they stood behind the shield shouting about the integrity of the game. It was a win-win situation for them because the story didn’t involve wife beatings, marijuana, cocaine, PED’s or concussions.
Anyway, let’s get back to talking about the season kicking off and how we can make some money right out of the gate. I think the number might be high by about 1-point, but I don’t want to take the Steelers in this spot. However, I do see an opportunity with the total that is sitting at 51.5 and 52 around town.
We’ve got two great offenses here and the Steelers defense, while appearing to be a little stronger than last season, is still not very good. Both these teams averaged a score of 49 total points in all their game last season, but it’s the tempo that each creates that has me feeling this will be a fast paced game reaching the 60’s.
When looking at similar situation with the Patriots in the past three seasons where they’re at home at the total is greater than 49.5, the Patriots have covered all six games with the OVER going 5-0-1. That’s a strong parlay correlation.
When high powered offenses come to New England, the Patriots seem to get jazzed and show its opponents who is boss. Despite the strong correlation, my only play will be the total OVER. Prediction: Patriots 34, Steelers 27.
Week 1 NFL lines have been up since April when the schedule was released. While there have been some movement on the numbers, the real shakeup will happen this week as most sportsbooks will go to full limits. Sharp money that has been eyeing a few sides over the summer will now feel comfortable about showing their cards when they can have at least $20,000 on game.
“Raise the limits and we’ll show you who we like,” is what sharps say and they went to work on Monday.
ESPN Cover Alerts
We may not have legalized sports betting across America, but ESPN is sure doing their part to get America comfortable with point spreads as they introduced “Cover Alerts” during its weekend college football action.
If there is a back door touchdown late in the game, ESPN pops a graphic up on the screen detailing the point spread. Of course there is an angle to this. When single game sports betting does finally happen in states outside of Nevada, there is going to be millions of dollars in advertising money for what will be a billion dollar industry.
In the same way they have gone all-in with Draft Kings as a partner with daily fantasy sports, they’ll be at the forefront in that area when sports betting happens everywhere. They are brilliantly forcing the issue to the American public and I love it.
Most books had a good weekend beginning with an outstanding Thursday when TCU failed to cover 16-points at Minnesota in a 23-16 win. That one side seemed to be tied in with the majority of parlays and when they didn’t cover, the books scooped all the chips.
CG Technology VP Jason Simbal said they held nearly 65 percent of all parlay action on Thursday. Boise State not covering 12.5-points at home against Washington in 16-13 win also helped the books on Friday and limited the parlay risk heading into Saturday’s big card where Station Casinos’ Jason McCormick said they won a “ham sandwich,” which is saying it was a small win.
McCormick said the late favorites of Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida State and USC covering was very good for the players and wiped out Station’s winnings from earlier in the day.
Lightning Strikes Bets
Georgia beat UL Monroe 51-14 on Saturday, which covered the 35.5-point spread and the game also went over the total of 57. However, when bettors tried to cash as the score was posted final, all they got was their money back.
With 9:54 left in the fourth quarter, the game was stop due to massive lightning attacks in Athens, Ga., and the game was finally called. Las Vegas sportsbooks require all football games offered on the board be played at least 55 minutes. This one came up a bit short.
The majority of the bets taken were on Georgia and the OVER. The good news for Monroe and UNDER bettors is that they got their money back.
While watching UCLA freshman QB Josh Rosen throwing the ball in Saturday’s 34-16 home win against Virginia, I was asking myself if I’ve ever seen a more polished passer as a freshman, ever. I’m talking pure passer that had the combination of touch, arm strength and accuracy so early, and I couldn’t think of anyone.
Going 28 for 35 with 351 yards and 3 TDs doesn’t tell the whole story. It was the type of throws he was completing, like a 30 yard out pattern on a rope, right on the money, that some NFL QBs have difficulty completing.
To do that in your first college game, wow! We’ll all have a chance in Las Vegas to check him out first hand on Saturday at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl when the Bruins visit UNLV. The Bruins are a 28.5-point favorite.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].