In a development sure to perplex many recreational bettors, professional gamblers are taking Cincinnati plus the points ahead of the Bengals’ Week 3 visit to Pittsburgh.
Sharp money has come in on Cincy at two Las Vegas sportsbooks known to cater to pros, according to oddsmakers at these betting shops. The Bengals sentiment is at least partly related to the plethora of injuries on the Steelers roster.
While Steelers -4.5 was the most prominent point spread as wagering opened this week, Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at the South Point, wanted to be on the high end of the market and hung -5. That enticed, but was just the beginning of, sharp action on the underdog.
Wiseguys bet Bengals +5, and when Andrews skipped 4.5 and moved immediately to 4, they took Cincy at that number, too.
“They’re even taking the 3.5. I’m sure I’ll wind up at 3 eventually,” Andrews said during a Wednesday morning phone call with Gaming Today.
Sure enough, by later in the day, Andrews followed the market to 3. While most sportsbooks are dealing Pitt -3 with additional juice on Thursday morning, the South Point’s policy is never to move off the standard -110 vig.
The story is similar at SuperBook USA, which wrote sharp money on Bengals at +4.5 and +4, Ed Salmons, vice president of risk management said. There was some interest, though, on Steelers -3.5 since the SuperBook’s look-ahead line of -6.5 was posted last week.
The line movement toward the Bengals goes against heavy public action on Pittsburgh. As of Thursday afternoon at PointsBet, 78% of spread bets and 71% of handle have laid the points with the Steelers, per an email from the company.
History Vs. Injuries
Sharp bettors, a group made up largely of quantitative analysts, aren’t much for trends. Rather than give weight to a matchup’s head-to-head history, for example, they input data into their models, and if the model’s output differs from the line, they make a bet.
This helps explain the sharp action on the Bengals, whose history against the Steelers is atrocious. They beat Pittsburgh in Week 15 last season, but that broke an 11-game losing streak in the series. Cincinnati has lost 14 of its last 16 games vs. Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are 10-4-2 against the spread in those contests.
Pittsburgh, though, has health concerns on both sides of the ball. On defense, T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, and Joe Haden are all questionable with groin injuries. On offense, Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with an injury to his left pectoral, and Diontae Johnson suffered a knee injury on the final play of the team’s 26-17 loss to the Raiders last week.
“Not just injuries, but injuries to really key guys,” Andrews said. “What would help the Steelers, if they’re going to be good this year, is they’ve got a few great athletes. Well, two of them are probably out this week (Hayden, Watt). …. TJ Watt can turn a game around. When he went out of the game, the whole game changed Sunday (vs. the Raiders).”
Still, Andrews, who happens to be a Steelers fan, isn’t sold on this week’s move toward the Bengals.
“They’re going to be hurting defensively, and that’s the key to this team,” Andrews said of the Steelers “But it’s still the Bengals. They should be able to handle this team.”
Bengals Vs. Steelers Odds At Major Sportsbooks
Be Careful Chasing The Steam
Public bettors, upon hearing sharps are on a certain side of a game, tend to want to jump on that same team. They’re often too late to the party.
While wiseguys like the Bengals catching more than a field goal, it’s unlikely they’ll continue to back them at just +3. If you decide to fire now on Cincy +3, understand you probably missed the value.
If you compete in picks pools, though, there’s a good chance the line on this game is set at Bengals +4.5, so that’s your opportunity to take advantage of a stale line the pros have since bet down.
The question then becomes, do you have the stomach to back the Bengals?