Vegas Money Moves – Week 15

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The most lopsided game of Week 15 NFL action throughout Nevada is tilting heavily on New England at Pittsburgh Sunday where the Patriots have been bet from an opener of -1 to -2.5 -120 as of Friday afternoon at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. There are only four books in Las Vegas that are still -2.5 flat with one chain of books, Boyd Gaming, at -3 EVEN. 
You can believe by game time, -3 is going to be a common number everywhere.  The numbers at William Hill's 100-plus books across the country are a staggering sight with 97 percent of the cash and 86 percent of the tickets written coming on the Patriots. It's amazing they're still at -2.5-flat. 
Up north at the Atlantis Reno sports book, director Marc Nelson said he got sharp play laying -1 on Monday and it's one of his biggest decisions of the week. Just about every book in the states will be needing Pittsburgh, except for maybe The Rivers sports book that opened in Pittsburgh Friday. Yes, legal betting is finally happening in Pennsylvania.
But even Steelers fans understand the hammer versus nail rivalry the Steelers and Patriots have. The Pats have won and covered the past three meetings. Steelers fans also know that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are a lethal combination coming off a loss. Last week they lost, 34-33, at Miami on the last play. The Patriots have covered 34 of their last 45 games following a loss.
Meanwhile, the Steelers are banged up and have failed to cover their last four games. They've lost their last three and it probably should be four straight, but the Jaguars poor play calling in the fourth quarter kept that from happening in Week 11. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ribs) is 'probable' and running back James Connor is 'questionable' (foot) for the late afternoon matchup on Sunday.    
However, one of the reasons I write this piece every week is to show who the public is coming strong with. From my time behind the counter booking, I'd have to say that my books won more of these games than we lost. When everyone jumps aboard a team, sometimes it's best to jump off the wagon and consider the value with the adjusted spread on the other side. For this game, ask yourself if the Patrots are really 5.5-to 6-points better than the Steelers on a neutral field. 
"We're loaded on the Panthers, Titans and Colts so far, said Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick who also mentioned his ticket counts on the Patriots were heavy but the actual cash wasn't as lopsided.
Stations opened the Panthers +7 -120 for their Monday night home game against the Saints and immediately got bet there and also at +6.5 dropping the to Saints -6. The Panthers have lost their last five and failed to cover all five as well while the Saints are the best team in the league against the spread (10-3) and they're holding the NFC's No. 1 seed for the playoffs. 
Stations large wagers on the Colts at home against the Cowboys came at -2.5 on Thursday. The Colts have won six of their last seven (5-2 ATS) while the Cowboys have won and covered their last five. The Colts have stayed 'under' the total in their last four and this week's number is 47.5 points.
Station books went from Giants -2.5 down to pick 'em for their home game against the Titans. The Giants have won their last two and covered the last three. The Titans have won their last two but are just 2-5 on the road this season, losing by an average score of 22-16.
"We have a big decision brewing on the Browns," said Wynn Resorts sports book director Doug Castaneda. "We need Denver big in that one. Also, they've (sharps) been playing the Niners as well." 
The injury-plagued Broncos opened -3 -120 at the Wynn for their Saturday night home game against the Browns. Wynn took so much action at +3 EVEN, +3 flat, +3 -120 and +3 -125 that they could no longer stay at the most key number in the NFL and eventually made the move to -2.5 flat on Friday morning.  
The Browns have just one win in six road games this season, but they've won and covered three of their last four. The Broncos looked awful last week at San Francisco ending a three-game win and cover streak. The Broncos have stayed 'under' the total in their last six games and Saturday's number is 45.5.
Wynn opened the Seahawks -6 on the road at San Francisco, a team they're 11-2-1 ATS against them in their last 14 meetings, including a 43-16 beatdown two weeks ago at home. The spread is now -4 at Wynn and -3.5 at several other bet shops. The Seahawks have won their last four and gone 4-0-1 ATS in their last five.
The most one-sided games as of Friday afternoon at William Hill books as far as ticket counts go: Patriots (86%), Texans (83%) at Jets, Sants (81%), Seahawks (76%), Dolphins (68%) at Vikings, and Jaguars (68%) vs. Redskins. 

Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 14 years.

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