Football Betting: Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 09/16/2008
Last year we tracked the opening steam movements of lines in both college football and the NFL. The idea was to see if the "sharp" money was really that, or if the idea of trailing these severe early line movements was merely a myth. Well, I'm glad to say that we are back at it this season and ready to build on last year's research.
Here is the basic methodology. If a line starts as Penn State (-1) and moves to Penn State (-4) then we're going to track Penn State as our side, because the Lions are getting all of the money and driving the spread up. If the line starts as Penn State (-4) and then moves to Penn State (-2) we're going to track the opponent because they are taking the heavy action and it's moving the line lower.
Last week the sharp action was exactly that, posting a tidy 9-4 record and its second-straight weekend of profit. That runs the Early Line Movements to a stellar 13-7 over two weeks of tracking in both college and the pros. However, that also nearly levels the two-year mark for these plays at 30-31 so we're kind of in limbo as to whether we should be playing or fading these picks. Of course, that's why we keep track!
Here are our Week 3 games:
LSU at Auburn (7:45 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20)
Open: Auburn -1.5
Current: LSU -3
Big-time rivalry game going down this weekend and, quite naturally, a lot of people are siding with the defending national champions. This game is in Auburn and is one of the biggest SEC games of the season so points will be at a premium. However, despite all the love for LSU the home team is 5-2-1 ATS in the last eight meetings and Auburn is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six.
Idaho at Utah State (4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20)
Open: Utah State -1.5
Current: Utah State -5.0
Tracking: Utah State
And in this corner we have two of the worst programs in Div.-I football! Not only that, but I'm pretty sure half of Florida State's team couldn't find these two states on a map. Utah State is 0-3 and is switching to a new quarterback. But after watching Idaho get bludgeoned at home by Western Michigan, how confident in them could you be? Idaho is 4-1 ATS in this series, but the favorite has covered in seven of 10.
New Mexico State at UTEP (9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20)
Open: UTEP -3.5
Current: UTEP -6.5
It's been a rough week for UTEP. First, they had to deal with the death of school icon Don Haskins. Next, they were forced into the cruel reality of Hurricane Ike. Add on top of that the fact that this is a rivalry game and a revenge game for the Miners and I would expect to see their best effort. NMSU won 29-24 last year and outgained them by more than 200 yards.
Florida Atlantic at Minnesota (Noon, Saturday, Sept. 20)
Open: Minnesota -4.0
Current: Minnesota -7.0
The Gophers lost a stunner down in the Sunshine State last year, dropping a 42-39 decision to the Owls. This is Minnesota's shot at a small measure of redemption. The trouble is that this Gophers offense is a wreck. Star runner Duane Bennett tore his ACL and is done for the year and they are starting three redshirt freshmen on the offensive line.
Utah at Air Force (4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20)
Open: Utah -5.0
Current: Utah -8.0
I know one thing: I may never, ever bet against Air Force again. Apparently a lot of Utah backers don't share my terror. Troy Calhoun's squad took advantage of an injury-ravaged Utes club in Utah last year for a road win. But the Utes are healthy and playing at a very high level against a younger, less talented Air Force squad. Air Force is 3-1 ATS in the last four meetings but just 1-3 ATS at home in this series.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Kansas City at Atlanta (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 21)
Open: Atlanta -3.0
Current: Atlanta -4.5
Not quite sure if this is a reaction to how surprisingly well the Falcons are playing or how stunningly bad the Kansas City quarterback situation is. Regardless, the Falcons are taking the heavy action and have moved their way through two of the key numbers.
Miami at New England (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 21)
This is nearly identical to last week's line with the Jets, which dropped from 40 at open to 37 at close. We weren't sure how Belichick was going to play it with Matt Cassel under center, but it's obvious now that the first-year starter won't be throwing the ball all that much. Miami cannot run the ball and I don't see them putting up 20 points on this New England defense.
New Orleans at Denver (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 21)
Open: Denver -4.0
Current: Denver -5.5
Everyone is clearly jumping on the Denver bandwagon. However, I wonder if the line movement here would be so severe if the Broncos had actually lost to San Diego (like they should've). Further, New Orleans' defense looked terrible against the Redskins last week and now they are facing a quarterback that actually knows what he's doing.
Cleveland at Baltimore (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 21)
Current: Baltimore -2.0
It looks like people are onto the joke that is the Cleveland Browns and their playoff aspirations. Baltimore has had an extra week to rest and prepare and should be ready for this division rival. Further, the Ravens have to be feeling pretty good about themselves - they are 1-0 and in second place in their division. Cleveland also may be primed for a severe letdown after two big games to start the year.