Football Betting: Early Week Line Movements
by Robert Ferringo - 9/29/2009
According to legend, early in the week is the time when professional bettors make some of their moves - the other most important time is just prior to kickoff - and they tear apart the ripe lines from the Las Vegas Sports Consultants. For the last two years I have 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.
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Here is the basic methodology. If a line starts as Penn State (-1) and moves to Penn State (-4.5) 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 (-1) we're going to track the opponent because they are taking the heavy action and it's moving the line lower.
I have not nailed down a specific movement - either passed on percentage of the spread changed or overall points changed - so I have to admit that my research is a little unscientific and based a bit on "feel". However, having done this as much as I have I would have to say that I have an eye for the odd movements.
That said, two years ago the "sharp" money went just 20-30 for the season and we had a solid fade system. But last year I think I opened the parameters up way too much and our tracked teams went 76-69, which was not statistically significant. This year I want to try to tighten it up and keep the total tracked plays somewhere in the range of 70-90 for the season.
And a very definitive theme is starting to develop in this space. The early college football movements once again got creamed last week, going just 1-5 against the spread. The NFL, however, softened the blow while posting a perfect 3-0 mark. For the season, the college early line movements are just 8-18 ATS while the NFL moves are a solid 6-2 ATS. Overall, the early big movers are just 14-20 ATS.
Here is this week's action:
South Florida at Syracuse (Noon, Saturday, Oct. 2)
Open: South Florida -9.0
Current: South Florida -6.5
The Orange have gone 3-0 against the spread so far this season and are starting to get some love from bettors after back-to-back win. They have been extremely feisty in The Dome and after two straight 30-plus-point pastings in their meetings with South Florida some revenge could be in order. South Florida is also set up in a perfect letdown spot after their outright win as a 14-point underdog in Tallahassee last weekend. With the exception of their 0-6 debacle in 2007, Syracuse has gone 13-7 ATS as a home dog in the last eight years.
Kansas State at Iowa State (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2)
Open: Iowa State -7.0
Current: Iowa State -10.0
Tracking: Iowa State
Interestingly, Iowa State was on this list last week with their home game for Army and they were the only college instance where the "sharp" money backed the right horse early. K-State has been a mess on the road this year, losing at UCLA and at Lafayette. Iowa State has quietly been playing some good football and they are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings with the Wildcats.
LSU at Georgia (7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2)
Current: Georgia -3.0
Georgia has played the better schedule and has looked sharper so far this season, even though they are a putrid 1-3 ATS. Georgia has won each of its two home games on the last play so far this year and are hoping the magic continues. The Bulldogs have also won the last three meetings in this series - by an average of 21 points per game - including a 52-38 win in the Bayou last year. However, UGA is just 1-7 ATS at home, 2-7 ATS overall, and 1-8 ATS as a favorite.
Penn State at Illinois (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2)
Open: Penn State -4.0
Current: Penn State -7.0
Tracking: Penn State
Illinois has been a debacle this year and it's pretty easy that the same issues that got Ron Zook booted from Florida are creeping up in Champagne. The Illini - despite a veteran offense - posted an average of 4.5 yards per game in losses against Ohio State and Missouri so far this year. Penn State is 0-5 ATS in its last five games and Illinois is 0-6 ATS in its last six, so something has to give. Or maybe they'll 'push'. But the "sharps" clearly view Penn State as the stronger team.
North Carolina State at Wake Forest (7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2)
Open: Wake Forest -2.5
Tracking: N.C. State
The Wolfpack took advantage of another vintage Wannstedt Meltdown last weekend to score a huge comeback victory in a game that they trailed 31-17. N.C. State is now 3-1 on the season, even though they do have blowout wins over two D-IAA schools, and building some momentum. Wake Forest couldn't handle lowly Boston College. I think it's that simple. N.C. State is on a solid 16-5-2 ATS run and look to build on that run.
Colorado State at Idaho (7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2)
Open: Colorado State -7.5
Current: Colorado State -4.5
I guess there is a contingent out there that thinks the Vandals are for real. Idaho is 3-1 so far this season and has covered all four of its games. In fact, Idaho is on an 8-2 ATS run dating back to last season. Colorado State is just 1-7 ATS as a road favorite and 6-13 ATS after a loss. They were blasted by BYU last week and now take their show back on the road, where they have gone just 5-10 ATS over the last three-plus seasons.
Tennessee at Jacksonville (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3)
Current: Tennessee -3.0
Tracking: Tennessee -3.0
Sharps are taking a clear position on Tennessee, which has outplayed its last two opponents despite failing to cover against the Texans and the Jets. Jacksonville is coming off a relatively surprising upset on the road against Houston and is just 1-8 ATS in its last nine home games. Tennessee is the better team this year, although they are snake bit. But keep in mind that the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five in this series and 7-3 ATS in the last 10.
New York Jets at New Orleans (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3)
Open: New Orleans -4.5
Current: New Orleans -6.5
The oddsmakers have to do something to try to stop New Orleans because so far no one else has. The Saints are 3-0 ATS and have scored three straight blowout wins. The Jets have a lot of steam at 3-0 SU and ATS so this will be the first losses on the field and at the window for one of these teams.
Detroit at Chicago (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3)
Chicago's defense has been outstanding so far this year, even without Brian Urlacher, and after two straight years as an 'over' club they are starting to settle back 'under' a lot of numbers. Detroit's defense has clearly shown some improvement over the last two weeks, and given rookie Matt Stafford's first performance on the road (and his play overall) the play is clearly for a more low-scoring affair.
Buffalo at Miami (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3)
Open: Miami -1.5
Current: Buffalo -2.0
This one is simple: Chad Pennington has been put out for the year. Miami has been so dependant on the arm of Pennington since he came over last season that the expectation is for a steep drop-off with relative unknown, Chad Henne at the helm.
San Diego at Pittsburgh (8 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 3)
Open: Pittsburgh -4.5
Current: Pittsburgh -6.5
After back-to-back losses the early money is on a bounce back performance from the Steelers. In reality, both losses were in games that Pittsburgh outplayed the opposition. And both games were on the road. The Chargers are 2-1 while Pitt is at 1-2, so with no margin for error and needing this game worse the expectation is for a strong Steeler effort.
Robert Ferringo is a professional handicapper and you can purchase a full season's package of his football selections for just $25 per week! Click here for details.
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