Football Betting: Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 11/04/2008
We had a real nice weekend for the sharp action, as the early line movements tracked in this space were an indicator of who would cover in seven of 11 instances. We are actually getting into the time of the year when, I believe, that early line movements can be a decent trend to follow. Oddsmakers become sharper as the season moves on because they have a strong grasp of team performances, and bettors become a bit more complacent because they THINK they know everything they need to about how teams will perform.
However, it's time for the "sharp action indicators" to put their money where their mouth is. Over the past two years the overall mark for these games is 64-59. While it doesn't completely dispel the myth of the "sharp action indicators" it is certainly a strong case against them.
Here are this week's games:
TCU at Utah (8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6)
Current: TCU -2.5
I'm a bit surprised by this movement given the fact that Utah is at home and the fact that TCU is just 2-5 SU over the last four years on Thursday night games.
Wisconsin at Indiana (Noon, Saturday, Nov. 8)
Open: Wisconsin -7.5
Current: Wisconsin -10.0
Wisconsin has come back from the dead at the betting window, covering two straight games. They have also beaten IU by an average of 33 points in the last two meetings. The Kellen Lewis Situation constantly hangs over the Hoosiers (Is he healthy? Will he play?) and they are coming off a loss, at home, to a MAC team. No reason for this line not to continue to sky.
New Mexico at UNLV (10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 8)
Open: New Mexico -7.0
Current: New Mexico -3.5
The Men in The Desert always seem to know their home town team, so I'm always a bit wary of big moves in UNLV games. As most of you know, I think that New Mexico stinks. They will be playing off surface and in somewhat of a letdown slot. The wrong team may be favored.
Penn State at Iowa (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1)
Open: Penn State -10.0
Current: Penn State -7.5
Heavy reverse line movement here. We have nearly 75 percent of action coming in on Penn State but the line is dropping quickly. Iowa has a solid front four, will be tough at home, and are 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings. But this will be Penn State's fourth road game in the last five and they could be set for a letdown after their win over Ohio State, even though they are coming out of a bye week.
Oklahoma at Texas A&M (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1)
Open: Oklahoma -20.0
Current: Oklahoma -24.5
Looks like not a lot of love given to Mike Sherman and the Aggies. With good reason: they stink. Oklahoma will be without Austin English, but they should still be able to run roughshod over A&M. The Sooners do get a crack at Texas Tech next weekend, but I doubt they will be looking ahead.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Denver at Cleveland (1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 2)
Brady Quinn gets the nod for the Browns - for some god forsaken reason - and apparently the bettors are looking for a scaled down Browns offense. Cleveland's defense had played pretty well for the last three weeks, but they were lit for 30-plus by Baltimore. Also, Denver is 0-3-1 against the total in the last four weeks. I'm actually looking for this one to go 'over', as so many of the primetime games have this year, because I still have zero faith in either of these defenses.
New Orleans at Atlanta (1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 9)
The Saints can't stop anyone, and apparently no one can stop the Saints. Adding to the total is the fact that the Saints lost stud defensive end Charles Grant. Atlanta has been a very consistent offense this year, scoring an average of 22 points over the last four weeks against some very strong defenses. However, four of the five divisional games in the NFC South this year have played 'under' the total.
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.
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.