by Simon Noble of Pinnacle Sports - 11/02/2005
With the reigning Super Bowl Champion Patriots hosting the undefeated Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, I thought it might be interesting in this week's column to highlight a smarter way to bet on these high profile games at Pinnacle Sports.
For the first time since 2002, New England is receiving points at home. As of today, the market price for the Colts saw them favored by 3 or 3.5 with a game total of 47. In nine Monday night games this year, the underdogs have gone 5-4, while playing the over has been 4-4-1.
In the past, sharps have always loved home dogs getting points on the Monday night game, but the trend has cooled in recent years. In 2004, home dogs were 2-2 ATS and there has only been one home underdog so far this year, with Atlanta winning outright against Philadelphia.
Historically, high profile games like most Monday Night contests have often had predictable line movements. Weather and injury factors excepting, conventional wisdom says to play the favorite early or the underdog an hour before kickoff to ensure the best price available. Last week was no exception as Baltimore opened as a 9.5 point underdog and closed at +12.5 against the Steelers.
Similarly, totals have a history of steaming upwards as game time approaches. Many times, the difference between winning and losing a bet is a single point and just like shopping lines, waiting to place an under bet until Monday evening will often get you that extra point.
A lot of times it is possible that you won't find a side or total you like on the Monday night game. In this instance, disciplined bettors will simply pass on the game, and focus on proposition bets (or "props"). Public games like Monday night football often provide more opportunities in props than on the game itself. They are the easiest for a player to beat and sports books routinely lose money on them.
When you wager on a proposition, it's typically your opinion versus one odds maker. If you know more than that one odds maker, you are going to get the best of it. As a result, many props departments will consider a break-even day as a small victory.
Pinnacle Sports often offers more than forty reduced juice props on premier games with a 16 cent line to provide unbeatable value to the player. By way of comparison, other online books will typically use a 30 or 40-cent line with low wagering limits to protect themselves.
With this many wagering options and the public betting like mad, it's not uncommon to see prop lines move on public money alone. We actually have several professional prop players that will take a contrarian view on our props and bet almost any one that moves more than 20 cents (betting towards the original price).
Last week, we discussed the "Pinnacle lean". While this is mainly useful for measuring market prices on sides and totals, it can be used on props as well. For example, if we offered a theoretical prop, "Will Indianapolis score first?" at Yes -130/No +114, this would suggest that the no-vig price based on our 16 cent line is -122/+122. You can "play the lean" if you find another book with the Yes at -121, or the No at +123.
But you don't have to wait until Monday for some exciting action with some great match-ups in both pro and college football like the games listed below. And remember, if you check out www.pinnaclesports.com on the weekend, you will find props available on all of these games too.
Miami (+6.5) at Virginia Tech
Miami dropped its first game of the year at Florida State 10-7, and has since gone on a 6-0 run winning by an average of 23.3 points. Tech is 8-0, winning by an average of 27.7 points per game. The Hurricanes and the Hokies are ranked #1 and #2 in total yards allowed on defense, respectively. Tech has won the last two meetings between these teams with Miami winning three straight before that. Both teams are in the BCS hunt, with Tech ranked 3rd and Miami 6th. A decisive win with a Texas or USC loss could put either team in the National Championship hunt.
We opened the game at +6.5 flat and saw early dog money as the line eased to +6. We were then played back the other way with many regular players laying -104 and taking -6. Since moving back to +6.5 we have seen moderate two-way action both in terms of the volume and the amount of wagers accepted.
Tennessee (+8.5) at Notre Dame
This is a match-up of two teams headed in opposite directions. In Charlie Weis's first year as Notre Dame's head coach, he has completely overhauled their offense, elevating their offensive production to 37.9 points per game. With an offensive attack that changed markedly from week-to-week, the Fighting Irish have started the season 5-2.
The Volunteers are a disappointing 3-4 on the year (compared to a 10-3 record last season) with solid defense, but a lackluster offensive production. In Tennessee's four losses, it scored an average of less than 10 points per game.
We are seeing a large volume on this game, with a moderate amount of point buying/selling towards the 7. Of our bigger players, the sharper money is on the Irish, though there is opposition. The unopposed action on this game is on the under and we're currently dealing under 50 -108.
Indianapolis (-3) at New England
The Colts had a bye week to prepare for this match-up and will be hoping to avenge last year's season ending AFC playoff loss. A common misconception is that bye weeks help teams the following week. From 1995 to 2004, teams went 143-157-9 ATS after a bye. Totals also had a significant impact after a bye week with the under hitting at a rate of 158-142-9.
We opened the game with the Colts favored by -3 and took a lot of large hits on Indianapolis. At the time of writing, the sharps and larger players are lined up on Peyton Manning and the Colts, while only the scalpers are playing the Patriots.
Carolina (-1) at Tampa Bay
Tampa was upset by San Francisco last week due in part to the loss of starting QB Brian Griese. Ten-year veteran defensive end Simeon Rice (with 3 Pro-Bowl selections) also missed the game for disciplinary reasons but is expected to play this week. If the Buccaneer's offense flounders under backup QB Chris Simms, it will have to rely on its defense - ranked #1 in the league allowing 229.7 yards per game - to save the day.
The Panthers are on a hot streak at the moment having won their last four games. Carolina has played a lot of close games (five this season were decided by 4 points or less) and if the spread is any indication, this will be another tight, low-scoring game.
We opened the game as a Pick'em and saw moderate two-way action. The market has drifted towards Carolina -1 but the sharps are mostly staying off this game, although a few are on Tampa Bay.