Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Vegas Money Moves - Week 2

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Second-year quarterback Sam Darnold has 14 career starts in the NFL with the New York Jets, going 4-10 in those games and he's been ruled 'out' for Monday's primetime game against Cleveland due to a case of mono. His back-up, Trevor Siemian has 24 NFL starts and the Broncos went 13-11 behind him. However, the sportsbooks are pushing the notion that the dropoff between the starter and back-up here is worth up to four points.
 
“Siemian had a great defense behind him at Denver that contributed to some of those wins,” said Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett. “I think there’s a big difference between the two, especially how it affects their deep game because Darnold has a much bigger arm. It also downgrades one of their biggest weapons with wide receiver Robby Anderson having his biggest threat (deep ball) diminished.” 
 
Bennett also mentioned that this situation was much different than the Jacoby Brissett-Andrew Luck dropoff after Luck retired from the Colts because Brissett was able to mesh with the team as the starter in camp.
 
Circa opened the Browns -2 ½ on Sunday night and went to -3 Monday afternoon where they took a Jets bet to force a move to +3 -115 and then -120. They had got a message a few days ago that Darnold had mono, but didn’t think he’d miss, but they got official word he would miss on Wednesday morning and immediately adjusted to Browns -5 ½ and within an hour were at -6 ½.
 
Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White suggested the dropoff with Darnold is only 1-point, and while I agree with a number closer to White’s than what the market has suggested, I also have to figure in the public perception into the number. Most of the public is dead set on the Browns to bounce nack after an awful 43-13 home loss to the Titans in Week 1, and now their decision is made easier because the Jets starting QB is out. The Browns are going to be a monster decision after all of Sunday’s risk rolls over into it. Everyone knows they’re going to be Browns -7 at some point this weekend so might as well get closer to it now and see if any bettor is willing to take +6 ½ before the inevitable.
 
Lots of time until the kickoff on Monday, so let’s look at the riskiest of the 14 Sunday games. 
 
“We’ve got three teams that are leading our ticket counts with parlays,” Bennett said. “The top play is the Cowboys (-5 ½ at Washington), followed by the Vikings (+3 at Green Bay), and the Chiefs (-7 at Oakland). We went to +3 with the Vikings on Tuesday and got immediate action on them.”
 
The Vikings are now +3 (-120) at Green Bay and the total has been on the move.
 
“This total has dropped from 46 down to 42 ½,” Bennett said. “I think people don’t know what to make of the Packers offense at Chicago last week. Was it more about the Packers or was it the Bears defense as the reason for their struggles.”
 
Recent history may also have something to do with the move because seven of their last nine meetings have stayed 'under' the total. The Packers haven't beaten the Vikings the past two seasons (0-3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS). Plus, the Vikings-Under combo has cashed in three of those outcomes. The Vikings were two-point favorites at Green Bay in Week 2 last season and that contest ended in a 29-29 tie. 
 
William Hill sportsbooks have the Vikings getting 74 percent of the cash in that game.
 
Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick said their three biggest parlay risk games are the Patriots (-19 at Miami), Cowboys, and Bears (-2 ½ at Denver). 
 
William Hill’s top three most weighted sides in ticket counts are the Cowboys (91%), Bears (87%), and Chargers (84%). However, it’s the Lions that have received 65% of the cash against the Chargers as home underdogs (+2 ½).
 
William Hill and Station Casinos are the top two chains in Nevada in regards to parlay action. Between having brick and mortar locations throughout Southern Nevada, they also have the most tickets written through the phones. Stations has been doing the automated account wagering the longest in the state.
 
Circa is the new kids on the block and have one of the most attractive betting menus which features the lowest theoretic hold on futures in the state. But getting a large base of public parlay bettors has been hard to come by despite having a phone app. They kind of live and die based on the large wagers from sharps right now. The goal for most books is to get that public/sharp balance using each side to offset losses when one of them does well because they’re usually on different sides.
 
Bennett said Circa had three teams bet by their most respected money or what the industry knows as 'sharps' or 'pros.'
 
“They took the Jaguars +9 ½, the Raiders at +7 ½ and also +7 (-110) and it was from the same guy, and we also got some play on the Saints at +2 ½,” Bennett said. “We have the Rams -1 ½ and this could be one of those games that flips to the Saints being favored. After the Panthers looking so awful last night, the Rams Week 1 road win doesn’t look as impressive anymore.”
 
Stations’ McCormick’s sharp plays are also on the Saints, Raiders, and Lions. Sharps have also hit the Raiders at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook where VP Jay Kornegay says they bet the Redskins and Bears as well.
 
This will be the last time the Chiefs visit Oakland in this classic rivalry. The Chiefs come in covering their last eight September games but are just 2-2 against the spread against the Raiders in the last two seasons. Most impressive about the Raiders last week against the Broncos was the offensive line and they got really good QB play. They didn’t look like the 2018 Raiders, but it could also be a product of the Broncos not being very good.
 
“The Raiders are by far our most bet straight bet of the week,” said Atlantis Reno sportsbook director Marc Nelson who also said the Chiefs are his top public parlay side.
 
Another couple of mystery teams face each other at Baltimore with the Ravens -13 against the Cardinals, and that’s not even the highest spread of the week. The Patriots are -19 on the road at Miami.
 
“People don’t really know what to do with the Patriots and Ravens; the big numbers usually scare them off the games altogether,” Bennett said.
 
The Ravens looked amazing last week but their franchise record 59-points came against a Dolphins squad that appears to have thrown in the towel, which is rarely seen in the NFL because if you look bad on film as a player, then your career won’t last long. No team wants to bring on a quitter. 
 
The Cardinals fought back with 18 unanswered points in the fourth quarter at against the Lions and salaved a 27-27 tie in overtime. Was it a phony tie? Were the Lions just gassed in the fourth against the Cardinals no-huddle, and can they have similar success against the Ravens? And can QB Lamar Jackson have similar success against the Cardinals as he did by throwing 5 TDs against the Dolphins?  
 
Lots to think about there, and when the public looks at -13 while being skeptical of both teams, most just say “I’ll pass.” 
 
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 15 years.


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