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Opening Line Report - Week 7

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The NFL’s Week 7 card is highlighted by a Super Bowl rematch between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, although neither team is in the form it was in last winter.

New England is 4-2, but its seven-point road win (24-17) over the Jets didn’t impress anybody, least of whom bettors who laid -9. The Pats have covered just two games so far this season.

The Falcons on Sunday dropped their second straight home game, blowing a 17-0 lead to the Dolphins by giving up 20 second-half points.  That’s not a good look against a team that had scored just two offensive touchdowns through its first four games.

Atlanta has taken most of the early betting action on next Sunday night’s affair.  New England opened -4 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and -5 at the Wynn on Sunday night, but money on the underdog drove the line to -3.5 at most shops by Monday.

“We tried to shade it up a little bit just because it’s Sunday night,” said Westgate manager Ed Salmons, anticipating liability on the favorite to cap Sunday’s action. “But honestly, watching the Patriots play, they stink this year. There’s nothing to like about the Patriots, other than they have (Tom) Brady and they get the benefit of the doubt on every close call.”

While bettors don’t often get the opportunity to lay such a small number with the Pats at home, John Avello, sports book director at the Wynn, said the line “doesn’t feel light with the Patriots are playing. Offensively they still get the job done when needed. They’re just not complete right now. Will they be complete at the end of the year? Maybe. But football’s about matchups, and I don’t know how New England is going to stop the Falcons.”

While Avello envisions the Pats also being able to move the ball, the opening total of 54.5 is a field goal lower than it was for Super Bowl 51.

The Patriots’ winning touchdown in overtime put that game ‘over’ that total, but as Salmons pointed out, “The Super Bowl was really a dead ‘under’ pace. It just got crazy at the end.”

Here’s the rest of the Week 7 slate.

Thursday, Oct. 16

Kansas City Chiefs (-3 even, 47) at Oakland Raiders

Most of the 2.5s on this game have been snapped up by chalk players, as Kansas City visits a division rival that’s lost four straight.

“There’s no playmakers on offense,” Salmons said of the Raiders. “They have no speed whatsoever. Every pass is a two-yard pass. I’m not sure if that’s an offensive philosophy that they changed this year or what, but it’s alarming. That’s a team that scored a lot of points last year.”

When Oakland scored just 17 in a loss at home to Baltimore two weeks ago, the blame was put on quarterabck Derek Carr’s absence, but he played in Sunday’s 17-16 home loss to the Chargers and they scored two touchdowns.

“There’s something going on with that offense,” Salmons said.

Sunday, Oct. 22

Tennessee Titans (-6.5, 46) at Cleveland Browns

The line remain unchanged from its opener through Monday, as handicappers waited for Marcus Mariota’s return from a hamstring injury Monday night against the Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5, 40.5) at Indianapolis Colts

While the line was adjusted up a half point from the opener of Jacksonville -3 in early wagering at CG Technology and the Wynn, the numbers indicate the betting market is not anticipating Andrew Luck’s return this week.

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6, 41)

There are hints of interest in the 'dog in this ACF North showdown, as the line has been adjusted from 6 to 5.5 at multiple books.

Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings (-5, 39.5)

While the line was driven up from Minnesota -4.5 to -5.5 at the Westgate, it sits at that lower number at some books as of this Monday afternoon writing.

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins (-3/120, 38.5)

The spread sitting a shade over a field goal suggests these teams are pretty evenly rated by the betting market, something that would have surprised most handicappers before the season, when the Jets’ rating was historically low.

Are these AFC East foes, in fact, even?

“I think Miami is better, but Miami can’t score, that’s their problem,” Avello said.

The Dolphins have a 3-2 record, but according to Salmons, “Miami could easily be 0-5. I don’t understand how they’re winning games. Their defense is fairly decent ,but the offense is just horrible.”

The total, meanwhile, is the lowest on next week’s card.  

“These are two teams that don’t have much offense but have scrappy defenses,” Salmons said.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills

No line on this game, as [...]s await news on Jameis Winston.

Carolina Panthers (-3.5, 41) at Chicago Bears

There’s been early money on the home underdog, with Carolina -4 getting bet down to -3 (-125) at William Hill, and -3.5 inching down to -3 (-120) at the Westgate.

New Orleans Saints (-6.5, 47.5) at Green Bay Packers

This line has skyrocketed at the Westgate from its opener of New Orleans -3.5. In fact, Saints -6.5 represents a complete flip from Green Bay -6.5 the Westgate offered on its look-ahead lines a week ago.  This is what happens when you go from Aaron Rodgers to Brett Hundley.

“I don’t know what the Packers are going to do with this kid Hundley,” Avello said. “Sometimes you throw a guy in an a desperation spot and he’ll do well, and he did do okay (in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota), but now you’re preparing him – I don’t know how you prepare him. He’s not ready to play NFL football.  The Packers really gotta go out and get somebody.”

As for the Saints’ defensive revival, the opinions of our [...]s differ drastically.

“I was high on the Saints defense to start the year,” Salmons said. “I was telling everyone here, ‘You’re going to be surprised to see how good the Saints defense is this year.’ Then the first two games they go out and give up a ton of points and I look like an idiot. But they’ve turned it around, and I’m not surprised.”

Avello,though, remains skeptical of the New Orleans D, despite three straight excellent performances.

“Defensively, they scare you a little bit because you know they’re never going to hold onto a lead,” he said. “I don’t consider them a very good defense. ”

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 47.5)

Early bettors laid the field goal with the Rams, prompting [...]s to add to the hook. This despite the Cardinals waking from their offensive slumber Sunday against the Bucs.

“Adrian Peterson seemed to give them life,” Avello said. “Maybe he was their missing piece or a spark...The offense showed signs of being what people expected of them.”

Avello, on the other hand, wasn’t as crazy about the Arizona defense, which nearly blew a 31-0 lead to a Bucs team led by Ryan Fitzpatrick in relief of the injured Winston.

Dallas Cowboys (-6, 47) at San Francisco 49ers

Dallas was adjusted from -4.5 to -6 in early wagering at the Westgate, with -6.5s getting bet down to -6s at other shops. Don’t be surprised, though, if late money pushes this number north.

“The public’s going to bet Dallas because it’s in the so-called ‘must-win’ territory,” Salmons said of the 2-3 Cowboys.

Seattle Seahawks (-6, 38.5) at New York Giants

The Westgate hung Seattle -7.5 on Sunday night, but after the Giants’ 23-10 win in Denver, the book reopened -6 on Monday morning.

“The Giants showed me a lot (Sunday) night,” Salmons said. “They definitely have the will to compete.”

He added,  “I thought they had a chance to go into that game (at the Broncos) and get beaten badly. They’re offensive line has been dreadful, they can’t run the ball, Eli (Manning) was getting sacked, and other than Engram, he has no one to throw the ball to. But they actually ran the ball, and the offensive line played by far their best game of the year.”

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5, 42)

Here’s another game the Westgate adjusted after Sunday night’s surprise.  The Broncos were posted -2.5 before their loss to the Giants, and reopened  +1.5 on Monday.

Monday, Oct. 23

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-5, 48.5)

This game has been dealt as low as -4 and as high as -6.5, the line settling at -5 at most shops Monday.

Marcus DiNitto is a writer in Charlotte, N.C., who covers sports betting and all kinds of other stuff. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusDiNitto.

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