When the NFL first released their schedule two weeks ago, the LVH Super Book had Week 1 spreads posted the next day.
Cantor Gaming immediately started working on the spreads as well, but their task took a little more time because they had to create numbers on every game for the first 16 weeks. Last Thursday they completed the task and on Friday afternoon, their spreads were released for the public’s enjoyment.
Lou D’Amico started offering spreads on every week of the NFL season in 2005 when he was running the Plaza, and brought the popular attraction with him to Cantor Gaming in 2008 when he opened the M Resort race and sports book. The initial action is always small, but the talk is always large.
What these spreads do is give bettors a chance to argue with each other on what is a good or bad line each of the weeks. Going through this process, I found several teams rated too high with not enough respect given to others, not seeing as much of an adjusted variance on teams’ expected performance as the weeks went on.
Here’s a few games that caught my attention the most, where there looked to be a 1-point edge on what they might be when that week finally plays:
Week 2: Broncos -1 at Giants: Not too out of whack. Maybe pick ‘em would have been better. The Broncos travel and hype of the Manning brothers from the New York media have me thinking this will be a great spot for Giants.
Week 3: Rams +4½ at Cowboys: The Cowboys only covered one home game last season. On paper, they still look to be trying to overcome mediocrity, led by Tony Romo. Of all the teams on Cantor’s odds list, I found more value with Rams games than any other. I like the direction they’re going and coach Jeff Fisher. Any team that covered all their division games playing in one of the toughest divisions, has got my attention.
Week 4: 49ers at Rams +4: Coach Fisher was able to beat the 49ers at home and tie them on the road last season, devising a strong game plan against Jim Harbaugh’s attack. This will be a pivotal game early for the Rams that might shape their season, and the home crowd should be up for it.
Week 6: Colts +2½ at Chargers: I’ve got the Chargers downgraded a little more than this, even though they made a positive coaching change. Phillip Rivers isn’t the same QB he was three years ago and they’re severely lacking in talent around him, especially on the offensive line. The Colts should have a let down from 2012, but are the better team. If Rivers plays the same as the past two seasons and the Chargers start slow again, the Colts should be -1 by kickoff.
Week 7: Broncos at Colts +3½: The Peyton Manning tour continues with one epic game after another for him, probably none bigger than this one. Indy still loves him, but they’ve moved on. The environment for this game makes taking over a field goal a must.
Week 7: Vikings at Giants -3: I think we’ll see the Vikings fall back quite a bit in 2013. At kickoff we will likely see Giants -6, especially since it’s a Monday-niter where everyone plays the favorite. The public will have six weeks watching Christian Ponder to help sway their opinion. It doesn’t mean the Giants will win, but I’m just forecasting for value. Unless Manning gets hurt, this game won’t be 3-flat by kickoff.
Week 8: Seahawks at Rams +4: Points hard to pass up considering they split last season. Covering both, the Rams are improved and have all the confidence in Fisher’s system. The Monday night crowd will be a huge edge and if the Rams are truly improved, you’ll be lucky to get +3 by kickoff.
Week 10: Seahawks at Falcons PK: The Falcons were -3 in the playoff win against the Seahawks last season. Not much has changed with the Falcons. They might even be better with an improved running game led by Steven Jackson. The home team deserves more respect here, maybe -1½.
Week 12: Patriots -1½ vs. Broncos: I expected it -3, so laying less than that in New England against anyone is pure value. The Broncos will be very good, but the situation is little different for coming into 2013. Bill Belichick at home against Manning has always been a good combination for Patriots success. When they met last Oct. 7, the Patriots were 6-point home favorites and won 31-21, the Broncos largest loss of the season.
Week 13: Broncos at Chiefs +4½: Denver appears to have a cupcake in the Chiefs, but I have a feeling Andy Reid will regain KC’s home edge lost last season. Getting +3 or more was always value with the Chiefs at home, and I think Alex Smith will bring Arrowhead edge back.
Week 13: Patriots PK at Texans: Not laying anything with the Patriots is sort of a gift. The Patriots beat the Texans 42-14 (-5.5) in the regular season and 41-28 (-9.5) in the playoffs. Maybe it will be different in Houston, but at pick ‘em, I like the Pats’ chances of covering.
Week 14: Seahawks at 49ers -2½: SF should be at least -3 at home. By kickoff will likely be higher.
Week 15: Saints at Rams +1½: By then Rams’ story will be known. The Saints are getting all kinds of respect in all their spreads just because Sean Payton is back as coach. Rams will be favored here even if they’re sub .500.
Week 16: Steelers at Packers -3: By this time, the ratings on these two will be drastically different. Packers offer huge value at this price. Laying a field goal at Lambeau Field with Green Bay is a gift.
More fun within two weeks as the LVH Super Book, MGM Resorts and William Hill are scheduled to release their season win totals. Unlike the individual point spreads where the action through the bet windows is minimal, the season win totals have pro bettors lining up like a pack of hungry wolves waiting to pounce on any perceived edge with limit wagers.
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].