Last Updated Dec 31, 2021, 10:00 PM

Vegas Money Moves - Week 17

This might be the most glorious NFL Sunday I’ve ever seen with 15 games jam-packed for 10 hours of betting enjoyment. Week 17 has lots of playoff implications, intriguing match-ups, backup quarterbacks, and a black cloud of COVID-19 lingering over the entire storyline.

Why make an early bet when staring at a great number on Monday when so many things can happen during the week to make it a bad number.

Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay shared some of the details of what they had to deal with regarding the number on a few of these COVID-QB games.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has been ruled out Sunday night against the Packers and seven-year veteran Sean Mannion will get the start against the Packers on Sunday night.

The SuperBook took sharp money on the Vikings at +6.5 and +7 when Cousins was expected to play. They updated the number to Packers -13 on Friday with news of Mannion starting. The total opened at 48.5 and was adjusted to 42.5 on Friday as well.

The Vikings +6.5 and +7 obviously aren’t great numbers anymore and this bettor will suffer the consequences of betting early.

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson doesn’t have COVID but he does have a bad ankle and it may keep him out again Sunday against the visiting Rams. The Rams opened -3 and on Friday the SuperBook went to -5 and -5.5 which is more than a halfway lean they’ve made that backup Tyler Huntley would be starting.

“After Huntley was impressive in his last two outings, we don’t consider the dropoff from Lamar Jackson to Huntley too much but we did shade the number as if Jackson wouldn’t play,” Kornegay said.

Another QB expected to be out again with COVID is Jared Goff which means that back-up Tim Boyle will get the start for the Lions at Seattle.

“We’re expecting Jared Goff to be out again and the dropoff from him to Boyle is significant,” Kornegay said. “The Lions have been covering a lot and move the ball well on the ground.”

The Lions are the third-best cover team at 10-5 ATS and Boyle started the Lions 20-16 loss at Atlanta last week and covered +7.5. The SuperBook opened the Seahawks -8 and Lions money pushed it -7.5. They were at -6.5 for about an hour on Monday but it’s been steady at -7.5.

Rookie QB Sam Ehlinger would start for the Colts at home against the Raiders if Carson Wentz isn’t cleared to play after being placed on the COVID list. Kornegay says Wentz will start.

The SuperBook opened the Colts -8 and by Tuesday they were -7 and then the news of Wentz hit and they adjusted down to -2 and then reported it Thursday at -6.5 and was bet up to -7. The total went from 48 to 41 and then reset at 44.5 Thursday.

All those QB situations set a nice backdrop to what the bookmakers have to babysit this week. All the while keeping their ears and eyes open for any breaking positive COVID tests in all sports. Twitter searches are a good way to get information the quickest, but professional bettors do the same thing to gain an edge.

Haha, 15 games, wow. And next week we get our first Week 18 ever.

The way this column usually goes is we talk about what the sharp bettors are betting and then what the public is betting the most. The public is the majority so ticket counts and parlay selections are a great way to track them. Sharp money wins more than they lose and the public usually loses which is the model the Euro books are bragging about in their mission statements about who they are.

The thing that stands out most to me every week is the top public team because it always seems to lose. Last week the top public plays were the Packers and Chargers. Neither covered and the Chargers lost.

The top public play this week at Station Casinos and BetMGM is the Cowboys -6 against the visiting Cardinals. The look-ahead line before the Cardinals lost at home to the Colts last Saturday was Cowboys -2.5. On Sunday, they reopened the Cowboys -3 and on Monday they adjusted to Cowboys -5.5 after the Cowboys impressive 56-14 win against Washington.

The Cowboys were given a style points upgrade in their rating and the public doesn't care about the extra luxury tax added because they win and cover whatever number is posted most weeks. The Cowboys have won and covered their last four and have covered an NFL-best 80% of their games (12-3 ATS).

The Cardinals have failed to win or cover their last three games with QB Kyler Murray looking kind of lost without WR DeAndre Hopkins and they backed into the playoffs last week. Lose three straight, make the playoffs. But that Cardinals team that started 7-0 is still in that locker room somewhere and they’re on the road this week where they’re 7-1.

The next most bet public team is the Rams (-5.5) at Baltimore. BetMGM had some sharp money lay the Rams also. And then it’s the Colts as the Las Vegas public changes their views weekly on the Raiders. This week they hate them.

Kornegay said the Chiefs (-4.5) have had the most tickets written for their game at Cincinnati and the Chiefs also garnered some sharp action. The Chiefs have won eight straight and covered their last six. Why jump in front of that freight train?

Station Casinos reported sharp action on the Patriots (-16.5 vs Jaguars), Washington (+4.5 vs Eagles), and Dolphins (+3.5 at Tennessee) while BetMGM also reported sharps on the Panthers (+6.5 at New Orleans) and Texans (+12.5 at San Francisco).

The Saints are expected to have QB Taysom Hill starting after the Monday night disaster with Ian Book. The Dolphins did their thing again in a 20-3 win, their seventh straight win (6-1 ATS) after having seven straight losses.

That’s all for this week, enjoy this magnificent schedule, pick some winners, and Happy New Year.

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