Opening Line Report - Week 2
September 8, 2008
By Stephen Nover
Tom Brady is gone for the season. Seattle gets smoked by Buffalo. San Diego and Indianapolis each get upset as nine-point favorites. The Browns are drilled at home.
What to make of all this opening NFL week action heading into Week 2?
“I’ve never seen a week where we’ve made so many adjustments as far as power rankings and futures,” said Mike Seba, a senior oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants.
“The public will overreact to this. In some cases, we’ll overreact. We’re still trying to feel our way through. There were so many upsets.”
Yeah, upsets and upsetting news for New England backers. Now that Brady is out, the Patriots go from probable eight-point road favorites against the New York Jets to three-point underdogs.
Brady is the only player in football worth double-digits on the betting line. Peyton Manning is worth seven points, according to Seba. Brady is worth at least 10 points. His replacement is Matt Cassel, who last started in high school.
“Who’s going to bet on Cassel?” asked Seba
Maybe about half the bettors, since the Jets opened either minus 2 ½ or three.
Suddenly the Chicago Bears are worthy of respect. Bashed during preseason, the Bears ambushed an out-of-sync Peyton Manning and the Colts, 29-13.
Prior to that Sunday night victory, the Bears may have opened six-point underdogs at Carolina despite the Panthers being without suspended wide receiver Steve Smith.
LVSC sent out Carolina minus 4 ½. Early money has driven the number down to Panthers minus 3 ½ and even three.
Seba said before Jacksonville’s upset loss at Tennessee, LVSC was prepared to make the Jaguars 10 or 10 ½-point favorites hosting Buffalo.
But not only did the Jaguars look bad in losing to the Titans, but the Bills smashed Seattle. So LVSC’s send-out line was Jaguars minus seven.
Seba is trying not to overreact to the 34-10 whipping Buffalo gave the Seahawks.
“The Bills caught Seattle in a bad spot,” Seba said.
The Seahawks were traveling cross-country with an early start time. They also were banged-up at wide receiver and in the offensive line, plus quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was rusty after resting his sore back during preseason.
Maybe it’s right to think about a Jacksonville bounce back. Keep in mind, though, the Jaguars suffered more offensive line injuries. Only two of their top six offensive linemen are healthy.
Early money has been on Buffalo driving the number down to Jacksonville minus six.
It’s easy to overreact to the Pittsburgh-Cleveland Sunday night prime time matchup by making the Steelers six-point road favorites. The Steelers buried Houston by 21 points, while Cleveland never was in the game in losing at home to Dallas, 28-10.
It’s always important, though, to realize teams usually aren’t as good or as bad as they looked the week before.
“You might want to give Cleveland the benefit of the doubt,” Seba said. “You’re going to get the Browns’ best effort. They lost to the best team in the NFC and they’re playing at home a second straight week.”
So Seba and crew sent out a line of Steelers minus 4 ½, believing minus three would be too low while minus six would be too high. The number was at 5 ½ Monday afternoon.
Another tough matchup to gauge is Baltimore at Houston. Before this past Sunday, the Texans probably would have opened a touchdown favorite. The Las Vegas Hilton had Houston minus eight on its early line, put out before the Week 1 games.
But the perception that the Texans are improved and the Ravens can’t win with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco took a serious hit opening Sunday. The Texans failed once again to be competitive on the road, while the Ravens knocked off the Bengals with outstanding defense and just enough offense.
“Baltimore isn’t nearly as bad as I thought,” Seba said.
LVSC’s recommendation to its Nevada hotel clients was Houston minus 5 ½. The line currently is at minus 4 ½. Seba understands the early move to the ‘dog.
“With the Ravens’ defense playing the way they did, I wouldn’t want to give up that many points either with Houston,” he said.
An impressive opening win against the Redskins, coupled with the Rams’ terrible showing versus Philadelphia, helped the Giants become a nine-point road favorite at St. Louis.
“I think some of the professional bettors will be on a team like the Rams getting nine at home,” Seba said. “Any home team getting that many points has to be attractive to them.”