Within a few minutes of the NFL releasing its 2016 regular season schedule Thursday, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had sides and totals posted on Week 1 action.
The Westgate crew already had their individual team ratings set. The only thing left was go through their normal point-counterpoint process of agreeing on a final number for the public to chew on. The first big decision they had was what number should be used for the Thursday night (Sept. 8) season opener with the Panthers visiting the Broncos.
“We had various lines of -2 to -3 (-120), said SuperBook manager Ed Salmons, who set the total at 43.5. “I made the final call of Denver -3 (EV).”
The -3 (EV) number didn’t last long, by Friday Westgate was down to -2 and on Saturday William Hill’s sportsbooks opened with the Broncos -1.5.
The Broncos beat Carolina, 24-10, in the Super Bowl, which kind of proved a point with the rating disparity. The actual spread was showing thanks to early public perception on the Panthers. On neutral field, the two teams were nearly equal. The proper Super Bowl line should have probably been pick ‘em or Panthers -1, but it ended up closing Panthers -5.5 – late money came mostly on Denver.
So if it was proven Carolina’s offensive line had no answer for Super Bowl MVP Von Miller on the edge in that meeting, and the defense figures to be almost as good for the opener, these teams should be considered at least equal on a neutral field for the beginning of the 2016 season, which when adding 3-points for Denver’s home field edge is where the Westgate’s -3 (EV) came from.
The big variable from now and Denver’s Super Bowl champion team is Peyton Manning has retired and back-up Brock Osweiler signed with Houston. Mark Sanchez is expected to open camp as the No. 1 starter, and while it may seem like a big drop off, Salmons didn’t rate either of Denver’s quarterback’s high last season. “Peyton Manning was as bad a quarterback as I can remember in a championship type team,” said Salmons.
Sanchez has a golden opportunity to step in and maybe even exceed what Manning did last season (9 TD, 17 INT).
The defense will keep the Broncos in games all year so they just need a QB to manage the game and not turn the ball over.
Sanchez led the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games in his first two years, but the ensuing years didn’t go so well as he was playing with less talented Jets and Eagles squads.
Denver’s season win total was set at 9.5 (UN -120) by CG Technology in late February before the schedule was released and Carolina was set at 10.5 (UN -130). CG’s VP of risk management Jason Simbal said there wasn’t any large betting activity after the schedule was released Thursday for any of the teams.
The Broncos’ first three games will be very telling to how their 2016 season goes when they open at home against Carolina and Indianapolis and then play at Cincinnati.
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. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].