Sometimes circumstances force even the cream of Las Vegas linesmakers to take a "wait and see" approach.
"NFL games are funny," said John Avello, director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas. "Take a team with a couple of injuries. The line moves. People bet it or bookmakers are adjusting to the number. So now you find that the injured players are expected to see action and the line never gets adjusted. Suddenly, there’s value.’’
Case in point, last weekend’s Steelers-Packers game at Green Bay. Wynn opened the game Pittsburgh -6, but the number was taken off the board with the status of QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Jerome Bettis in question.
"We put it back up at 4 when we heard that Ben and Bettis were out," Avello said. "To be honest, I thought it would still go higher to perhaps 6Â½ because Green Bay is not very good defensively and the luster of winning at Lambeau Field has been tarnished."
The line was trimmed to 3Â½ offshore and remained at 4 at Wynn with good two-way action for a game that figured to be all Pittsburgh from a betting standpoint.
"I still believe the real money will go on Pittsburgh when all is said and done," Avello said. "But this game is a good example of the house not anxious to adjust a line when so much early money has already been bet at that original number. It creates good betting opportunities and leaves us questioning whether we did the right thing leaving the line where it was."
Avello’s assessment was correct as the Steelers won confortably, 20-10.
Injuries also played a significant role in establishing a line for the key NFC East battle in Washington between the Eagles and Redskins. Wynn opened the Redskins at -1 and the line jumped to -3 with both Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb questionable for Philadelphia.
"Again, too much money had been taken early so we played wait and see," Avello said. ."Our information had Owens most likely playing. If both play, we’ll keep the number where it is."
It turned out that McNabb played and Owens was suspended indefinitely by the Eagles. The line stayed at -3 with the Skins winning, 17-10.
The third game, to no surprise, was the huge Monday night matchup between unbeaten Indianapolis and the defending two-time Super Bowl champ Patriots in New England.
"We opened Indy at -3 (-120) and it kept rising, which was a bit surprising to me," Avello said. "We raised the number to -3 (-130), then -3Â½ and -4 points. Maybe this is the best Indianapolis team ever, but in the rare instances that the Pats were dogs (10-2 ATS in last 12) they did extremely well."