|Point Spread Weekly for Week 2 of the NFL season is out . . .
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Dave Tuley’s ATS report . . .
MLB: Home & road teams split 7-7 while underdogs were 8-6 with biggest upset by Orioles +185 in 7-3 home win vs. Dodgers; Unders 7-5-2 with pushes on CIN-SEA (8) & PIT-SF.
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Josh Appelbaum’s market insights . . .
The agonizingly slow part of the week is finally over. It’s Thursday and football is back. So begins the four-day stretch of non-stop pro and college football betting. Get ready.
In case you missed it, Week 1 was a great start to the season for contrarian bettors as NFL underdogs went 9-6 ATS (60%). Road dogs (7-3 ATS, 70%) and divisional dogs (4-1 ATS, 80%) were particularly profitable. This lines up nicely with their historical norm. Early in the season, dogs have a distinct edge because they’re fully healthy, motivated and the public overvalues favorites, leading to inflated lines that contrarians can take advantage of. Divisional dogs are particularly valuable because the built in familiarity of playing an opponent twice a year levels the playing field and leads to tighter, closer games.
However, one trend that was surprising in Week 1 was how well Overs did. They may have only posted a 9-7 record (56.3%), but historically the first few games of the season are the best time of year to bet Unders. Recreational bettors are biased toward Overs because they want to root for exciting, high-scoring games. The books know this and will shade lines to the Over, providing added value on sweating an Under. Plus, the defense is way ahead of the offense early on, resulting in lower-scoring games. That wasn’t the case last week as points were being scored left in right, making it a big opening week for public over bettors. You’d have to imagine books will shade Week 2 totals even higher, which could create a big bounce back regression spot for sharp Under bettors.
Aside from Bucs-Panthers on Thursday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET), we also have a stacked 14-game MLB slate to get down on today, including a plethora of early games starting at 1:10 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into Thursday’s top matchups to see where the smart money is falling.
8:20 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-1)
Both teams are coming off Week 1 losses at home. But not all losses are created equal. The Panthers hung tough with the mighty Rams, barely losing 30-27. Meanwhile, the Bucs were thoroughly outplayed by the 49ers in a 31-17 drubbing. This NFC South showdown opened with Cam Newton and the Panthers listed as 6.5-point home favorites. The public is absolutely pounding Carolina, with roughly eight out of 10 wagers laying the points.
However, despite this heavily lopsided betting, the line hasn’t budged very much. Some books remain at -6.5. Others have moved to -7 but are hanging heavy juice on the Bucs’ side (+7 at -120 or -125), indicating liability on the road dog and a likely fall back down to 6.5. The fact that this line hasn’t moved to -7.5 or -8 with such heavy betting signals somewhat of a sharp line freeze, with books still worried about Tampa wiseguy action. For pros backing the Bucs in a big contrarian spot, getting the key number of +7 is crucial.
There are reasons to buy low on Tampa. Road divisional dogs have gone 53% ATS since 2003 according to Bet Labs Sports. In September, they improve to 56.4% ATS with a 9.9% ROI. We’ve also seen some smart money hit the Under. The total opened at 50.5 and has fallen to 49. The Over/Under tickets are relatively split, so this 1.5-point drop could only be caused by sharps with an edge.
Subscribers only: Check out simulated score, advanced stats and trends for this game.
1:10 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Brewers (77-68) at Miami Marlins (51-94)
Despite losing star outfielder Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap, the Brewers continue to roll. Milwaukee has won six straight and goes for the four-game sweep of Miami in this early afternoon matinee. The Brewers are now with the Cubs for the 2nd Wild Card spot. In a battle of lefties, veteran Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 3.98 ERA) opposes Caleb Smith (8-9, 4.11 ERA). The Brew Crew opened as -130 favorites and the Marlins a +120 dog. We haven’t seen any movement on the moneyline, but we the total has taken in heavy smart money. It opened at 8.5 and wiseguys quickly jumped on the Under with the hook, forcing bookmakers to either juice up the Under 8.5 to -120 or drop the total down to 8. As of now the roof is open at Marlins Park and the wind is expected to be howling in at 16-20 MPH. Even if the roof ends up being closed, that’s still an edge to the Under as the ball doesn’t travel well in closed roof or dome stadiums and it’s perfect conditions for pitchers.
1:10 p.m. ET: Arizona Diamondbacks (75-71) at New York Mets (75-70)
Break up the Mets! New York crushed the DBacks 9-0 last night, cashing as short -115 home favorites. The Mets (now only 2.5 games out in the Wild Card) have taken the first three games of the series and go for the clean sweep tonight. Bookmakers like their chances. With Marcus Stroman (7-13, 3.42 ERA) facing lefty Alex Young (7-3, 3.38 ERA), New York opened as -126 home favorites and the Snakes a +116 dog. The line has quickly moved to Mets -137, signaling early smart money in their favor. We’ve also seen pros hit the under. It opened at 8.5 and has been bet down to 8.
7:15 p.m. ET: Atlanta Braves (91-56) at Philadelphia Phillies (75-70)
The Braves beat the Phillies 3-1 last night, cashing as -143 road favorites. Atlanta has now taken two-of-three so far this series. The Braves have a massive pitching advantage in the series finale tonight as Julio Teheran (10-8, 3.31 ERA) takes on Drew Smyly (4-6, 6.20 ERA). However, this line opened with Atlanta listed as a relatively short -127 road favorite and the Phillies a +116 dog, signaling an expected close game. Pros haven’t taken a side as the line remains stagnant. But the Under is being pummeled by wiseguy money. It opened at 10 and has already fallen to 9.5. The wind is howling in at Citizen Bank Park, starting at 8 MPH and rising to 12 MPH throughout the night. Sharps are hoping this turns a few first-row homers into warning track fly ball outs.
Jeff Fogle on the NFL . . .
Jeff is back in action after some well-deserved time away, and he explains how to account for cheap points in your NFL handicapping, using tonight’s game as an example.