It looks like we’re going to have a barn burner on Sunday night when the New Orleans Saints visit the Denver Broncos, where Las Vegas sports books have posted the total at 55 ½ -- the highest number of Week 8 and the season. A lot of times when we see high totals on these type of games, the game doesn’t live up to expectations, but it’s hard to imagine this one not giving us a video game type of offensive production.
If the league’s worst defense of the Saints, allowing just over 30 points per game, doesn’t give a valid reason to believe the pace of this game will be fast, then maybe the offensive production of the two starting quarterbacks will. Only five quarterbacks in NFL history have averaged over 250 yards per game over their career, and Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are No. 1 and 2, respectively.
On the season, the Saints have averaged 29.3 points per game while Broncos have averaged 28.3. For the Saints, no team has been able to slow their offense down. Their problem -- the reason they started out 0-4 -- is that they can’t stop anyone. However, in their past two games, the Saints have had better defensive production and they get good news this week as Joe Vitt returns to the sideline as interim head coach after serving a six-game suspension for his role in the “Bounty-Gate” scandal.
This year’s version of the Broncos has improved every week as Manning and his core of offensive players are finally getting on the same page with one another. Their three losses on the season have come against Top-5 rated teams in the league -- Atlanta, Houston and New England. Yet, in each of those losses, defenses still had a tough time stopping Manning in the second half.
The Broncos seem to go to extreme highs and lows offensively during their games, with the lows usually being in the first quarter. Before their bye week, they took the extremes to new heights as they gave the Chargers a 24-0 halftime lead before rolling out a 35-0 second half. Ironically, it was a week earlier where the Saints were down at the half to San Diego and used a 17-7 second half run to win 31-24.
The Broncos opened as 4 ½-point favorites last Sunday night and bettors perceived the number offering some value and ran it up to 6 ½ in just over an hour. On Monday morning, Saints money finally found its way to the book and pushed the number down to 6, where it’s remained all week. The total opened 54 ½ Monday and was bet up to 55 ½ by Tuesday morning.
Here’s a look at some of the other line movements in Las Vegas from this week:
The Patriots and Rams meet in London for the sixth regular season game to be played across the pond. Our brand of football has people excited in London just because it‘s something different for them, but the top match of the day in the city will be across town when proper football is played at Stamford Bridge between Manchester United and Chelsea.
This will be the second time the Patriots have played in England, and the locals have to be wondering why the NFL would send a team with name like the “Patriots” over so much. It’s like an American winning at Wimbledon on the Fourth of July. It's been 236 years, but there is still some bitterness over the revolution by ‘Their’ colonies.
The Pats opened up as 8 ½-point favorites and have been bet down to 7 with no movement on the total at 47. The English punters will have fun with the wagering aspect and fire away on the games at betting stations all around the stadium, even though the NFL forbids Las Vegas to buy ad time for the Super Bowl. I guess we’re bad in legal Las Vegas, but their good because it’s legal there. Doesn’t make much sense!
The Packers appear to be getting their rhythm back to 2011 speed and have looked very good the past two weeks, which is why we saw a big fat -15 on the board for their home game against the Jaguars. Because of injuries on the Jaguars, the first move was taking the Packers up to -15 ½, but has since been bet down to 14 ½. Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) is expected to play, but Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) is out.
The Falcons may be 6-0, but bettors still like the turnover machine known as the Eagles as they’ve bet Philly from -2 ½ up to -3 (EVEN).
The Seahawks haven’t been their best away from Seattle, but bettors seem to trust them more in this situation than the Lions, who have been offensively challenged this season. The Lions opened up at -3 (EVEN) and Seattle money has pushed the game off the key number down to 2 ½.
The Jets beat the Dolphins 23-20 in Miami last month and are playing a brand of football closer to what Rex Ryan would like lately, despite being only 1-2 in their past three. However, they got the cover in all three games -- two of them against two of the best teams in the league (Houston, New England). The Jets opened at -2 ½ and have stayed there all week.
The Bears have been bet from 7-point home favorites against the Panthers to -7 ½. Second-year QB Cam Newton asked the media for a suggestion box after another embarrassing Panthers performance last week, and it’s not going to get any easier for him this week against the Bears defense. Good luck, kid.
The Steelers opened as 4-point home favorites against the Redskins and have been bet up to -4 ½. Make a note that Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is 14-1 in his career against rookie quarterbacks.
The Raiders and Chiefs usually win as visitors when squaring off, which makes this line seem a little strange where the Chiefs are -1 ½. Trends aside, the Chiefs have lost three in a row, and badly. Even worse is that backup QB Brady Quinn has no grasp on how to run any offense and he’ll be leading the Chiefs charge this week.
The Cowboys opened as 1-point home favorites against the Giants and that number has ran, the other way. The Giants are now -2 ½, and justifiably so.
The 49ers opened as 7-point road favorites against the Cardinals and the number has been bouncing around 6 ½ and 7 all week. By the time this game kicks off on Monday, it’ll be at least 7 ½, so if you like the 49ers, jump in when/if it drops back down to -6 ½ and if you like the Cards, wait until Monday.