The quarterback quandary takes center stage as NFL Week 8 arrives.
Kansas City takes the field for the first time without injured Patrick Mahomes. Drew Brees was a will-he, won’t-he factor before New Orleans hosts Arizona. And the injury to Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, forcing him to leave late in the game against the Rams last week, had many books with no line or over/unders for the Falcons’ home game against Seattle.
Mahomes’ absence dramatically alters the spread. His estimated league-best, 8-point impact on the over/under and spread totals by industry bookmakers appear in the numbers.
Kansas City, the explosive unit which teamed with the Rams for a 105-point game last year, combines for a rather pedestrian 47.5 total at home against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers, according to most NJ sportsbooks.
That would have been a lights-out firework display with both quarterbacks in.
And for the first time this year, the Chiefs are an underdog. They get 4.5 points on the PlaySugarHouse.com site and minimal support, according to Mattias Stetz, the COO of Rush Street Interactive, which operates PlaySugarHouse in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Eighty percent of the tickets are on the Packers to cover,” Stetz said. “Even with Kansas City being underdogs, the line has brought far more Packers bettors.”
Chalk it up: NFL betting highlights
Favorites gain popular support throughout the league.
The Giants, stymied by Arizona 27-21 as a 3-point home favorite at most books last week, have become a lightly played underdog against the Lions. Detroit received a stunning 85% of the wagering for its home game, Stetz said, despite losing three tough games in a row — to Kansas City, Green Bay and Minnesota.
This quarterback matchup is Detroit’s Matthew Stafford against the Giants’ Daniel Jones, far removed from the celebratory “Danny Dimes” label applied one month back by the New York media.
Giants’ backers have not made “One Thin Dimes” in the past two games because of his poor throws that created points for his opponents.
Stafford leads a Detroit team starving for a definitive triumph.
This is a crossroads battle for Detroit, which is 2-3-1 rather than the 4-2 mark it does not have. And that’s all because of a blown 15-point, fourth-quarter lead in a season-opening tie at Arizona and two crucial blown calls by officials leading to 10 Packer fourth-quarter points in a game Detroit lost on the final play.
Which team do the Giants face here?
Detroit, with an over/under season win line of 6.5 at William Hill, may believe it can’t get over the hump if they lose this game.
Eagles spawn intrigue at NJ sportsbooks
The Eagles, another team desperate for a victory, opened at +1.5 against Buffalo, according to most of New Jersey’s sportsbooks. Early Thursday morning, FanDuel widened a full point to 2.5, creating memories of when bettors “middled” the books.
In this scenario, one bets the Bills at -1.5, sees the line jump a full point and takes the Eagles at +2.5, praying Buffalo wins by exactly 2 points. It’s two winning wagers for the player and the ultimate nightmare for a book versus a big bettor.
The threat is rare now because of multiple props and alternative spreads, but someone watching the online books simultaneously would see an opportunity to play both sides here and hope for the middle. Establishments still guard against this versus big players by knowing what’s going on at most books and knowing how major players place bets.
As for the Eagles-Bills’ wagering sentiment, Stetz said the Eagles obtain 55% of the betting money at SugarHouse, where they are extremely popular. But the volume of support is wavering compared to early in the season.
There is a lot to read between the lines here. Buffalo is an overachieving 5-1, just two wins shy of its William Hill projected win total. The Bills, in theory, have a game to burn.
The Eagles, expected to garner 10 victories at most books, are underachieving significantly at 3-4. On that theory, they are due for a bounce-back.
In the Saints-Cardinals’ game, Stetz said the uncertain stature of Brees — conventional wisdom now has him sitting out and returning after the team’s bye, which is next week — reduced his establishment’s prop bet action on that game from 84 to three. A clear signal on whether Brees plays will restore a healthy menu of wagers to that game.
The Jets, underachievers in a 33-0 Monday night blowout to New England, face a stingy Jags team on the road as a 5.5 dog in a game pegged at medium points (41) by DraftKings. The line moved to 6 at FanDuel.
Elsewhere, the suddenly hot Indianapolis obtained 92% of the SugarHouse action by midweek as it lays six points against Denver at home.
Wow! The dazzling dozen
Stetz said one SugarHouse bettor turned a $100 parlay into over $20,000 on a 12-leg NFL parlay last week.
The ticket included the Bills, 49ers, Packers, Rams and Cardinals to win outright, the Colts, Vikings, Jaguars and Saints to cover the spread, the adjusted over point total in the Cowboys-Eagles contest and a straight over for the Seahawks and Titans.
Westgate seeing life in some underdogs
The famed Westgate in Las Vegas adds depth to the overall betting picture by spotting the preference of “sharpies,” the professional bettors who have turned small angles into larger wagers, often at brick-and-mortar establishments.
John Murray, executive director of race and sports for Westgate, said the public has jumped on the Colts, and he expects them to back New England heavily.
But he witnessed some notable action on the dogs.
“Some of the sharps (professionals) are taking Cleveland. We’ve seen them place action at varied spreads,” he said of the Browns, who get 13 points against the methodical and unbeaten New England Patriots.
When the Browns put it together, as they did in an earlier thrashing of Baltimore on the road, they can have a big game.
Will it be this one?
“Look out for Miami, too,” Murray said of the winless Dolphins, who have looked energized under Ryan Fitzpatrick while covering two straight weeks. Fitzpatrick engineered a 16-play, 10-minute march against Buffalo last week. A similar effort would enable Miami to prevail against the spread, at least.
“The consensus from people I have been talking to is that Pittsburgh has no business laying that kind of number in that game,” Murray added.
The Los Angeles Chargers bring some West Coast betting flair to the table.
“The people love to back the Chargers on the road as an underdog, but don’t like them at all at home,” he said of the line of host Chicago -4. “They also want to bet against the Bears after the way they lost to New Orleans last week.”
Murray also predicted Kansas City would “bring in the oars” and run a far more conservative offense under Matt Moore than it did with Mahomes, who is lost for four to six weeks.