Football Betting: Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 10/07/2008
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.
The yo-yo year of the "sharp action" continues! Two weekends ago the early line movements went a bankroll-busting 1-7. But this most recent weekend the early line movements bounced back with a profitable 5-3 week to get back on track. For the 2008 season the Early Line Movements have gone 24-21 in six weeks of tracking both college and the pros. That also runs the two-year total on these situations to 47-39.
Here are our Week 5 games:
Syracuse at West Virginia (Noon, Saturday, Oct. 11)
Open: West Virginia -29.0
Current: West Virginia -23.5
I would have to assume that the injury to Pat White is what is forcing this line movement. But White will play this weekend and I imagine he will produce. The bottom line is that Syracuse is still a disaster, and I find it hard to believe that many, if any, sharps would be willing to trust them on the road, no matter what the number. Keep an eye on this movement because, as I mentioned, White will likely play and when that announcement comes forward the action will go back on the Mountaineers.
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State (2:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11)
Current: Vanderbilt -3.0
Maybe there finally are some believers. Vanderbilt is undoubtedly THE surprise team in college football this season and has worked its way up to No. 14 in the nation. They have covered each of their lined games this year and are coming off a huge win against alleged powerhouse Auburn. On top of that, another option team (Georgia Tech) already dominated Mississippi State just a few weeks ago. The Bulldogs are just 5-12 ATS at home and the favorite is 4-0 ATS in this series. Vandy is taking two of every three bets on this game, but I say to tread lightly: anything that looks too easy in gambling is usually a trap.
Arizona State at USC (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11)
Open: USC -21.0
Current: USC -26.5
It's safe to say that the Sun Devils have been a bust this season and are nowhere near the contender in the Pac-10 that most bobbleheads had projected. But this one is pretty simple: USC is a major square team, Arizona State is 1-8 ATS in its last nine games overall, USC has covered six of eight in this series, and the Sun Devils are coming off a loss to Cal while the Trojans absolutely dominated Oregon.
Arizona at Stanford (5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11)
Open: Arizona -3.5
Current: Arizona -6.5
The bloom has come somewhat off the Stanford rose. Arizona has been exceptional ATS this year and has covered eight of its last nine games overall. Also, the road team is 7-1 ATS in this series and it may take more than six points to slow down the Wildcats offense. Stanford's secondary got torn up by Jimmy Clausen last week and it looks like the sharps expect Willie Tuitama to offer more of the same.
Middle Tennessee State at Florida International (7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11)
Open: MTSU -2.0
Current: FIU -1.0
This is actually somewhat of a reverse line movement, as a slim edge in early betting numbers (53 percent to 47 percent) favors MTSU. But very quietly FIU has exceeded expectations this year, covered four if it's five lined games, and won two in a row on the road. This is the Golden Panthers' second home game of the year, and their first was a tough 17-9 loss against South Florida. They are a team on the rise. And even though MTSU has played better against tougher competition, it looks like some are expecting a breakout FIU performance.
Oklahoma State at Missouri (8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11)
Open: Missouri -9.0
Current: Missouri -14.0
The Tigers are 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings and they are 13-5 ATS at home. Apparently there aren't many believers in No. 17 Oklahoma State at the moment and the early action indicates that most people expect a breakout performance for a team that has been pegged as a national title contender. Shouldn't be a lot of defense in this one. But you have to decide if that makes the points more valuable or less.
Notre Dame at North Carolina (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 11)
Open: North Carolina -4.5
Current: North Carolina -7.0
Tracking: North Carolina
People are still hesitant to admit that this Notre Dame squad is actually better than last year's horrendous unit. The Irish have improved considerably. However, there's a long way to go before you can back them with confidence on the road. North Carolina has won three of its last four and was a quarter away from a clean sweep over teams that are likely better than N.D. But I expect this number to come back down given the fact that the Irish are still THE public team in college football.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (8:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 13)
Open: New York Giants -6.5
Current: New York Giants -8.0
Tracking: New York Giants
Consider this a referendum on Romeo Crennel's motivational skills. The Giants are undefeated and they are in the second-largest wagering city in the country, next to Vegas. Lots of homer money going to be coming in on the G-Men, who apparently are now getting the "respect" they have felt they deserved. Home underdogs have been a poor play to this point in the season (7-13-2 ATS), but after an opening-night sweep the underdogs have taken three of the last four Monday Night Football games.
Baltimore at Indianapolis (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 12)
Open: Indy -7.0
Current: Indy -4.5
This is a tricky situation to wager on, but there's no doubt that the opening line was horrendous. Baltimore has gone toe-to-toe with two of the top five teams in the league over the last two weeks (Pittsburgh, Tennessee) and lost both games by just a field goal. So spotting that defense a touchdown in any situation is a farce. However, this could be a letdown spot for them and we are still waiting for a rookie dud performance out of Joe Flacco. Regardless, this is not the same Indy team that we've watched and wagered on over the last five years.
Carolina at Tampa Bay (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 12)
Open: Tampa Bay -3.0
Current: Tampa Bay -2.0
All of the early money in this contest is going the way of the Panthers. And why not? They are coming off a 34-0 bludgeoning of Kansas City at home while the Bucs are locking their wounds after a tough loss in Denver. The Panthers have covered four of five in this series and the public could be wary of Tampa's quarterback situation. I fully expect this number to drop even further.
Chicago at Atlanta (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 12)
Open: Chicago -1.0
Current: Chicago -3.0
Atlanta has been a fantastic - yet underreported - story in the early NFL season and I'm 100 percent convinced that they are legit. But they are getting little respect from sharps and are a very live home dog. Chicago is in a similar position as Carolina in that their overwhelming performance last Sunday is still fresh in the minds of the early bettors that laid their action on Sunday night. One thing to consider is that the NFC South is 5-2 ATS in seven meetings with the NFC North to this point in the season.