Vegas Money Moves – Week 14

Sharp money loves the Broncos, Jaguars, and Jets in Sunday’s Week 14 NFL action while the average Joe likes the old reliables of the Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Packers. It’s a wild-looking card to forecast, but before getting into Sunday’s games, we have to talk about Monday night’s NFC West battle where the Rams are at Arizona and the Cardinals are only -2.5.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals

What’s the deal with the Cardinals being shorter than a field goal at home?

When they met in Los Angeles in Week 4 with both teams being 3-0, it was the Cardinals winning 37-20 when the spread was Rams -3.5. Since that game, a lot has happened and we know a lot more about each team.

For instance, the Cardinals at 10-2 have the best record in the NFL and they’re No. 2 in covering games at 9-3 ATS, and also No. 2 with a +12 turnover margin. The Rams have lost only four games, but three of them came in a row within their last four games and QB Matt Stafford threw a pick-6 in all three losses.

Meanwhile, Arizona kept winning as QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins sat out three straight with separate injuries. Backup QB Colt McCoy won two of three starts, both on the road.

The Cardinals are 7-0 on the road winning by a 32-16 average score and winning each by 10-points or more. I love teams that win on the road. Murray and Hopkins came back last week and won at a cold and rainy Chicago.

I asked some sportsbook bosses what the deal with the number is and they didn’t argue the number was off, but simply made decisions for their book based on the money.

“Sharps took +3 and also the money-line at +130,” said Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “They’ve been playing the Rams a lot throughout the year.”

Could it be that because the opener was -3, and almost every sportsbook in the nation follows a few Las Vegas and off-shore books that the sharps seeded the Rams side to keep the Cardinals number low so they can pound it later in the week simultaneously at cheap numbers at all the books? The old smokescreen, what do you say Marc Nelson?

“The guy that bet the Rams +3 with us is not a smokescreen guy,” said Nelson who runs the Atlantis-Reno. “His stuff almost never moves against him, especially in the NFL.”

Based on the Rams poor play and going 1-5 ATS in their last six games, the argument can be made that the Cardinals should be -5 up to -6. So what would sharp money gobble up +3 when their own numbers should also show Cardinals being favored by more.

“I had a slightly higher number as well,” said Station Casinos VP Jason McCormick. “I am assuming my adjustments for the additions of (Odell) Beckham and (Von) Miller as well as the growth of (Darrell) Henderson and (Sony) Michel to go along with the layoffs and health of Murray, Hopkins, and loss of (J.J.) Watt.”

Prior to the Week 4 Cardinals win, the Rams had won eight straight (7-0-1 ATS) against the Cardinals, the span of current coach Sean McVay’s tenure in Los Angeles. Funny, all those Rams wins were with Jared Goff at QB and the guy he was traded for in the offseason helped give McVay his first loss to the Cardinals.

We’ll find out more about how this story unfolds but my recommendation is to bet the Cardinals now if you like them, laying -2.5 or laying the money-line (-138), and if you like the Rams wait to bet just to see if sharp groups lay the cheap number and force moves up to -3.5 or -4.

It’ll also depend on what happens Sunday for the book. If the public does well Sunday, the risk will carry over into Monday night and balloon forcing the books to readjust and the public usually bets the favorite on Monday nights.

So while we can debate what the number really should be on Monday night, the number is Cardinals -2.5 because it was bet there with stone-cold cash, and cash is king, and cash makes it correct until it loses. That makes the Cardinals number at -2.5 correct. No one is lining up to play $55,000 laying -2.5, or at least yet.

Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos

The Broncos have been bet up by sharp money from -8 to -10 against the visiting Lions who come off their first win of the season.

What’s behind this play? Letdown spot? The Lions are 8-4 ATS. Denver is 6-6 SU and ATS with four of its win coming against some of the worst teams. They beat the Jaguars, Jets, and Giants, and then Washington well before the Football Team went on their current run.

But how about the momentum angle for the Lions who have played well enough to cover all those games. And now you get 10 points against an up and down team that has had trouble gaining traction week to week. The Lions are playing to make up the ground they lost the first 12 weeks while the Broncos have playoff hopes still alive.

One last note on the Broncos. They are an Under machine – six straight Unders, 10 Unders on season. Denver and Jacksonville are the best in the NFL at keeping games under. The number at Circa Sports has dropped from 42.5 to 42.

Also, RIP to Demaryius Thomas. That Tim Tebow 80-yard strike to Thomas for TD in overtime of a 2012 playoff game against the Steelers remains one of my favorite Broncos plays of all time.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans

The public still hates the Jaguars, but sharps found them attractive taking the +10 at Tennessee. The Titans are now -8.5 much to the delight of every parlay player. Titans RB Derrick Henry is lost for the season and WR A.J. Brown is also out but the other WR that has been missing games, Julio Jones, is expected to play this week.

The Titans last two games looked shabby with a 22-13 loss at home to the Texans and a 36-13 beatdown at New England last week when most of the key starting skill players were out. The Jaguars have lost four straight (1-3 ATS).

New Orleans Saints vs. New York Jets

The Jets are usually one of the least bet teams of the week and generally have their opponents as one of the most bet teams weekly. But now the sharps hate the Saints laying -6 on the road. They took the Jets and the number is -5.5 at most books with the SuperBook sitting at -6.

Taysom Hill has a finger injury but practiced fully on Wednesday and is expected to start. RB Alvin Kamara is also expected to play. It’s been a rough last five games for the Saints: 0-5 SU and 0-5 ATS. They’ve also gone 0-4 ATS in their last four against losing teams. The Jets are 1-5 SU and ATS in their last six.

Kornegay at the SuperBook said they also took sharp action on the Browns at home against the Ravens and 49ers at Cincinnati. The SuperBook look ahead line last week was the Bengals -2.5 and was re-opened Sunday at -1.5 but 49ers money has pushed them to -2. The lookahead on the Ravens was -1 but it’s now Browns -3 (EVEN). The South Point using flat numbers is telling on this game at -3.

Station Casinos took sharp play on the Texans at home this week getting +8.5 and +8 against the visiting Seahawks. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson notched his first win since coming back from injury after three awful performances.

The Texans will start rookie QB Davis Mills who has played his best this season at home. Mills had a 22-9 lead in the third quarter at home against the Patriots on Oct. 10 and lost 25-22, but did get the cover at ironically the same number (-8) the Seahawks are favored by this week.

Now let’s check out what the public is betting the most starting with the Buccaneers laying -3.5 at home against the Bills where the Bucs have won all five games by an average score of 38-16.

They also like the Packers -12.5 at home against the Bears who will have QB Justin Fields back in action this week. The Packers are an NFL-best 10-3 ATS and are 21-7 ATS in their last 28 meetings with the Bears. The Packers won 24-14 at Chicago on Oct. 17 covering -5.5 and aided by several referee calls against the Bears.

We already talked about Tennessee getting some public love because they hate the Jaguars, but I’m most amused by the local betting patterns on the Raiders.

The last two times Las Vegas bettors were all over the Raiders to be one of the top public plays listed in this column was the Giants game and the Washington game last week. The Raiders lost both and the result of the local anger from those losses is to bet against them this week. They love the Chiefs who currently ride a five-game win streak. It's been bet up from Chiefs -9.5 to -10. The Raiders are 5-1 ATS in their last six as road underdogs.

The Dallas-Washington game is generating lots of two-way action to the point that both sides are top-3 ticket fetchers at BetMGM. Washington has won and covered four straight, the last two by identical 17-15 scores. The win streak started with a 29-19 win against the Buccaneers. The Cowboys have lost three of their last five. They’ve also gone 5-2 ATS in their last seven games at Washington.

That’s all for Week 14, talk to y’all next week.

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