Last Updated Dec 22, 2021, 10:39 AM

Vegas Money Moves - Week 15

The main betting story coming into NFL Week 15 action was going to be about how the sportsbooks try to rebound after getting crushed last Sunday with favorites going 10-2 ATS, but of course, COVID-19 had to have a say in what is or isn’t the top story.

COVID-19 refuses to go away and a new strain is spreading fast that has over 100 NFL players on the COVID list and most likely will be unable to play this week. Most of those players have been vaccinated.

Quarterbacks are out and other star players are out, which means adjustments have to be made with a player rating to be deducted from the current spread. Saints head coach Sean Payton is also out for the game. The Browns have 12 starters out for their home game against the Raiders.

On Friday, the NFL updated their COVID protocols and three games have been postponed until Monday for the Raiders at Browns and Tuesday for Washington at Eagles, and Seahawks at Rams. Last season, the Broncos didn’t get that luxury in a regular-season game against the Saints.

But before those date changes, sharps were circling like sharks with chum in the water. The sharp bets and the adjustments the sportsbooks were making on the fly forced some major line moves. It was the sportsbooks waiting for the sharps – those books that take sharp bets – to tell them with a wager what the proper number should be.

The Las Vegas SuperBook opened the Browns -6.5 on Sunday and it fell to -5.5 and then adjusted to -3 after news broke that some Browns would be out. SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay said sharps bet the Raiders at +3 all the way to the favorite at -2.5. The Raiders got as high as Raiders -5.5 and then it was walked down to pick ‘em on Friday.

he total dropped from 43.5 to a low of 35.5 on Thursday and then walked back to 41 on Friday. With the extra two days for the Browns, it’s possible some of those 12 starts may be to play Monday instead of Saturday. Instead of Nick Mullens starting at QB for the Browns, maybe they get Baker Mayfield or Case Keenum cleared.

The Washington’s have 23 players on the COVID list, including their top-2 quarterbacks which caused them to sign Garrett Gilbert off the Patriots practice squad. The Eagles opened as 2.5-point home favorites against Washington at the SuperBook and Kornegay says his sharps ran the number all the way to -9.5. The SuperBook moved as high as -11 before walking it down after news of the schedule change to Tuesday. The Eagles are -7.5 as of Friday afternoon. The total has moved from 44.5 to 42.5.

The Rams opened as 6.5-point home favorites against the Seahawks but the Rams COVID breakout dropped the number down to -3.5 on Tuesday. On Friday after the date change to Tuesday, the SuperBook went from -4.5 to -6.5. The Rams have 26 players on the COVID list which includes CB Jalen Ramsey, WR Odell Beckham, LB Von Miller, and RB Darrell Henderson. The Seahawks have WR Tyler Lockett and RB Alex Collins on their COVID list.

Sharp action spent a lot of money on the Raiders and Eagles this week along with the Jaguars immediately after head coach Urban Meyer got fired. Kornegay says they laid the Jaguars -3.5 and -4 and the SuperBook moved to -5 on Thursday. The Jaguars got rid of their coach and the smart feeling is that the 2-11 Jags will be pumped up and play better against the 2-11 Texans.

Each Nevada sportsbook has different house rules, but most are relatively the same except for a few exceptions such as the date and location changing. Last season forced some of the books to stretch long-standing rules to accommodate the wrath of the pandemic. Station Casinos house rules say the game must be played on the originally scheduled date or the wager will be refunded. BetMGM states seven days from the original date and the SuperBook states eight days.

All the sharps that got the best of the number at Stations likely won’t be happy about the refund, but the rules are there to protect the player as well as the house. Without rules we have anarchy, but a unified rule throughout the state might be a better way moving forward. No book wants to piss off off a customer, but getting a refund when you expect to be paid is surely going to create some anger and animosity. Who needs that?

Chris Andrews at the South Point said his sharp players were all over the Raiders and Eagles and also the Packers at Ravens where QB Lamar Jackson is a game-time decision. They went from Packers -5.5 to -6.5 on Friday and up further to -7. The high Packers number is a halfway number for Jackson being out.

Jason McCormick at Station Casinos said their most bet sharp games were the Lions, Giants, and Steelers.

The Cardinals were -13.5 and have been bet against down to -12.5 against the Lions. The Cards will be without WR DeAndre Hopkins for at least six weeks after having surgery on a sprained knee. The Lions have a win, 1-11-1, but most impressive is the 8-5 ATS mark. Arizona is 7-0 SU and ATS in seven road games with a 32-16 average score in those games.

The Giants have nine players on the COVID list while QB Daniel Jones recovers from a neck injury that will keep him out. The Cowboys opened as 10.5-point road favorites and have been bet up to 11 at most bet shops with a few showing -10.5.

The SuperBook went from the Titans -2.5 at Pittsburgh to the Steelers -1.5 on Friday. The Steelers are 2-5 ATS at home this season with an average score of 20-21.

Now, here’s what the public is betting. It’s important to know that most are flush with cash after everyone hit 8-team parlays last week. They’ll come more aggressive with the action this week so here’s what we're looking after observing action from a few Nevada books in order of most tickets written:

  • BetMGM: Packers, Rams, Eagles
  • Station Casinos: Packers, Rams, Cowboys
  • South Point: Patriots, Cowboys, Packers
  • LV SuperBook: Packers, Rams, Bills
  • Atlantis-Reno: Bills, Packers, Rams

My first observation is that the Rams are a favorite play because they just saw them beat the Cardinals on Monday night. It’s what’s fresh on their mind, but the Rams have COVID issues that the public doesn’t care about because a few Rams were out Monday night as well.

The Bills opened -9.5 at home against the Panthers and that number has been bet to -11 and -12 on Friday.

The Bengals were -2.5 in the SuperBook’s lookahead lines last week but the Broncos opened -1.5 on Sunday night and were bet up to -3 on Thursday.

Before betting this week’s games, be sure to do a quick glance at the players that might have trouble playing this week more so than usual.

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