Football Betting: Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 09/23/2008
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 5-4 record and its second-straight weekend of profit. That runs the Early Line Movements to a stellar 18-11 ATS over three weeks of tracking in both college and the pros. However, that also nearly levels the two-year mark for these plays at 35-35 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:
Fresno State at UCLA (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27)
Open: Fresno State -4.0
Current: Fresno State -7.0
Tracking: Fresno State
Apparently all the warm and fuzzies from UCLA's season-opening win over Tennessee are gone. The Bruins have been outscored, 90-10, in their last two games and are looking like the sloppy mess that we expected to see this year. Fresno State has absolutely zero sympathy. And you know that even though the Bulldogs are a Top 25 team and laying a touchdown, Pat Hill will have his boys feeling "disrespected" and like the 'underdog' in this West Coast matchup.
San Jose State at Hawaii (11:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27)
Current: Hawaii -3.0
This line is likely a reaction to news that Hawaii quarterback Tyler Graunke did not break his hand against Oregon State, as initially feared, and that he should be ready for this weekend's WAC opener. San Jose State had Stanford down, 10-0, last Saturday before giving up 23 unanswered points and their defensive issues will be tested on the Island. But a much better Hawaii team than this barely beat a softer San Jose State team on the mainland last year, as the Warriors failed to cover a 17-point line in a 42-35 overtime win.
New Mexico at New Mexico State (8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27)
Open: New Mexico -7.0
Current: New Mexico -3.0
Tracking: New Mexico State
New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee and is out for the year. That leaves freshman Brad Gruner to lead the Lobos into a tricky rivalry game against the Aggies. New Mexico has won five straight and seven of eight in this series, so beware Rocky Long. But NMSU actually outgained a much stronger New Mexico team last year and now have the benefit of the home field.
South Florida at N.C. State (7:30, Saturday, Sept. 27)
Open: South Florida -10.0
Current: South Florida -8.0
Tracking: N.C. State
South Florida was, again, less than impressive last week against Florida International, while the Wolfpack were beating a Top 15 team in East Carolina. Clearly the Sharps are expecting a carryover effect for N.C. State, even if they are banged up on both sides of the ball. The Bulls have covered their last three games against ACC opponents but they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games. N.C. State has been a solid home dog, covering six of seven at home against a team with a winning record and seven of 10 at home overall.
Army at Texas A&M (12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27)
Open: Texas A&M -33.0
Current: Texas A&M -27.0
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this game's shift isn't due to a ton of Army money. Instead, the fact that Aggies quarterback Stephen McGee is out with a shoulder injury and backup Jerrod Johnson sprained his shoulder as well is the likely culprit. Really not sure if it will matter, though. Army coach Stan Brock basically called his team a bunch of pansies two weeks ago and they responded with a 22-3 loss to Akron. This team is pretty bad, and four touchdowns still may not be enough.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Houston at Jacksonville (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28)
Open: Jacksonville -8.5
Current: Jacksonville -7.5
The Texans are playing their third straight road game and their third game against the type of mauling, physical defense that they just aren't equipped to handle. However, it looks like the Sharps think this is too many points for a shaky Jaguars team to be laying in an obvious letdown situation. Jacksonville is just 3-5 ATS following Indy week and they are 0-2 ATS after beating the Colts. However, the Texans may be in the midst of a quarterback change. And I assure you that Sage Rosenfels is not as good as Matt Schaub.
San Francisco at New Orleans (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28)
Open: New Orleans -8.0
Current: New Orleans -6.0
Tracking: San Francisco
This is a heavy reverse line movement, as nearly 70 percent of the early action is on the Saints. Yet, that hasn't stopped this number from steaming through several key numbers. Part of the movement can be explained by New Orleans' consecutive losses and shoddy defense. But they also just found out that Jeremy Shockey will be out several weeks. Shockey may be the most overrated player in the NFL, but since New Orleans is already without prime target Marques Colston the loss of their starting tight end is a blow.
Washington at Dallas (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 21)
Open: Dallas -10.0
Current: Dallas -12.0
Not only did this line bump after Dallas whipped up on Green Bay in Lambeau, but it also inched upwards because Jason Taylor is not going to be suiting up for Washington. Washington has covered five of six in this rivalry series, and this line shift is actually somewhat of a reverse line movement, as nearly 62 percent of the early action is on the Redskins. The Cowboys are the clear-cut No. 1 team in the league and should get used to being shackled with monster spreads this season.