NFL, college football line moves, early action and bookmaker insights


Here is our weekly look at how the NFL and college football betting markets are shaping up leading into the weekend.

For consistency, lines, totals and betting percentages are from Caesars Sportsbook, unless otherwise noted. The betting percentages are not specific to the current line or total and are designed to provide a snapshot of the early action. The look-ahead lines were offered in advance of the previous week’s games. Most numbers were re-opened Sunday night.


Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (Thursday)

Last week’s look-ahead line: Rams -1, 53
Sunday re-opener: Pick ’em, 53
Wednesday: Rams -2.5, 54.5
Spread action: 76% of the bets and 96% of the money wagered is on the Rams.
Total action: 54% of the bets and 70% of the money wagered is on the over.

Note: Craig Mucklow, vice president of trading for Caesars, says he anticipates the line getting to Rams -3. “We are still taking sharp money at -2.5, and this line has been smashed at pick, 1.5, 2, 2.5,” Mucklaw said in a company release Wednesday. “This isn’t one big bet that is driving this up, it’s lots of decent-sized bets. The Rams are off a loss, don’t want to go 0-2 in the division, Seattle hasn’t been super impressive … I can see why the Rams are liked by the sharps.”

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers

Last week’s look-ahead: Panthers -4, 46.5
Sunday re-opener: Panthers -4.5, 46
Wednesday: Panthers -3.5, 45.5
Spread action: 60% of the bets are on the Panthers, but 84% of the money wagered is on the Eagles.
Total action: 72% of the bets are on the over, but 91% of the money wagered is on the under.

New York Jets Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons (in London)

Last week’s look-ahead: Falcons -4, 44
Sunday re-opener: Falcons -3.5, 43.5
Wednesday: Falcons -3 (-115, 46)
Spread action: 61% of the bets and 51% of the money wagered is on the Falcons.
Total action: 64% of the bets and 97% of the money wagered is on the over.

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals

Last week’s look-ahead line: Packers -3, 48
Sunday re-opener: Packers -3.5, 48.5
Wednesday: Packers -3 (105), 50.5
Spread action: 88% of the bets are on the Packers, but 90% of the money wagered is on the Bengals.
Total action: 86% of the bets and 87% of the money wagered is on the over.

Note: Caesars Sportsbook reported taking two large bets on the Bengals early in the week: $500,000 +3 (even) and $205,000 on the money line at +150.

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Last week’s look-ahead line: Vikings -8, 49.5
Sunday re-opener: Vikings -8.5, 49
Wednesday: Vikings -8.5, 48.5
Spread action: 72% of the bets and 97% of the money wagered is on the Vikings.
Total action: 51% of the bets are on the over, but 76% of the money wagered is on the under.

Note: Caesars reported taking a $500,000 bet on the Vikings -7.5.

Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers

Last week’s look-ahead line: Broncos -1.5, 41.5
Sunday re-opener: Broncos -1, 41
Wednesday: Steelers -1, 40
Spread action: 63% of the bets and 69% of the money wagered is on the Steelers.
Total action: 51% of the bets and 79% of the money wagered is on the under.

Note: Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater suffered a concussion in a loss to the Ravens on Sunday and did not practice Wednesday.

Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week’s look-ahead line: Buccaneers -9.5, 49.5
Monday re-opener: Buccaneers -10.5, 48
Wednesday: Buccaneers -10, 48
Spread action: 84% of the bets and 62% of the money wagered is on the over.
Total action: 54% of the bets and 72% of the money wagered is on Buccaneers.

New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team

Last week’s look-ahead line: Saints -1.5, 43.5
Sunday re-opener: Pick ’em, 43.5
Wednesday: Saints -1.5, 44.5
Spread action: 69% of the bets and 79% of the money wagered is on the Saints.
Total action: 74% of the bets and 92% of the money wagered is on the over.

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week’s look-ahead line: Titans -7.5, 52
Sunday re-opener: Titans -4, 49
Wednesday: Titans -4, 48.5
Spread action: 88% of the bets and 96% of the money wagered is on the Titans.
Total action: 54% of the bets and 54% of the money wagered is on the under.

Note: This game was attracting the most-lopsided early action at sportsbook PointsBet, where 91% of the money that had been bet on the point spread as of Wednesday afternoon was on the favored Titans.

New England Patriots at Houston Texans

Last week’s look-ahead line: Patriots -7.5, 41.5
Monday re-opener: Patriots -9, 39.5
Wednesday: Patriots -9, 39.5
Spread action: 78% of the bets and 83% of the money wagered is on the Patriots.
Total action: 56% of the bets and 87% of the money wagered is on the over.

Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders

Last week’s look-ahead line: Raiders -7, 45
Sunday re-opener: Raiders -4.5, 45.5
Wednesday: Raiders -5.5, 44.5
Spread action: 83% of the bets and 92% of the money wagered is on the Raiders.
Total action: 66% of the bets and 67% of the money wagered is on the over.

Note: Chicago coach Matt Nagy announced Wednesday that rookie Justin Fields would be the starting quarterback moving forward.

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers

Last week’s look-ahead line: Pick, 50.5
Sunday re-opener: Chargers -1, 51.5
Wednesday: Chargers -1.5, 47
Spread action: 63% of the bets and 65% of the money wagered is on the Chargers.
Total action: 55% of the bets are on the over, but 88% of the money wagered is on the over.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Last week’s look-ahead line: Cowboys -8.5, 49.5
Sunday re-opener: Cowboys -8, 50
Wednesday: Cowboys -7, 52
Spread action: 86% of the bets and 82% of the money wagered is on the Cowboys.
Total action: 72% of the bets and 97% of the money wagered is on the over.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

Last week’s look-ahead line: Cardinals -2.5, 52.5
Sunday re-opener: Cardinals -4, 52
Wednesday: Cardinals -5.5, 50
Spread action: 80% of the bets and 71% of the money wagered is on the Cardinals.
Total action: 75% of the bets are on the over, but 74% of the money wagered is on the under.

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

Last week’s look-ahead line: Chiefs -4, 56.5
Sunday re-opener: Chiefs -3, 58
Wednesday: Chiefs -2.5 (-120), 57
Spread action: 67% of the bets and 68% of the money is on the Bills.
Total action: 78% of the bets and 70% of the money wagered is on the over.

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (Monday)

Last week’s look-ahead line: Ravens -6.5, 49.5
Sunday re-opener: Ravens -7, 48
Wednesday: Ravens -7, 46
Spread action: 74% of the bets and 83% of the money is on the Ravens.
Total action: 56% of the bets and 93% of the money wagered is on the under.


College football market watch

Circa Sports is responsible for the first college football lines to hit the betting market each week. The book posts its opening lines at 11 a.m. PT on Sundays and offers $3,000 betting limits to all comers, including professional bettors. Within the industry, Circa Sports is what’s considered a “sharp book.” Their limits grow rapidly through the week and, by the time kickoff approaches, will be among the largest in the betting market.

Matt Metcalf, sportsbook director for Circa Sports in Las Vegas, is sharing his bookmaking approach with ESPN this football season.

Akron-Bowling Green line moves seven points

Metcalf says some of the toughest teams to handicap are the bad ones.

“You’re constantly trying to find their floor, about how bad they can be, and for some reason the floor always seems to be lower than you think,” he said Sunday afternoon while reviewing what had just happened to his Akron-Bowling Green opening line.

Metcalf opened Bowling Green at -7. Bettors instantly pounced on the favored Falcons, and the line quickly grew. Metcalf said he took max bets on Bowling Green at -8, -10 and -12. The line eventually settled at Bowling Green -14.5.

“So, yeah, we just flat out missed that number,” he said.

Metcalf believes he and his team have an accurate power rating on Akron (1-4) but are a behind on Bowling Green, leading to significant movement on the opening line. The Falcons (2-3) have exceeded early expectations, including an outright upset of Minnesota as a 31-point underdog.

“Sometimes that’s just what it takes, hanging that bad rating and then figuring it out, not making the same mistake twice,” Metcalf said. He added that he reviewed the Falcons’ schedule and came to the conclusion that he didn’t give Bowling Green enough credit for playing Tennessee tough in the season opener.

“I had kind of taken away from that game that Tennessee wasn’t that great and that Bowling Green was what they were, just a bad team that got lucky against a bad Tennessee team that hung around. Going back, though, it’s pretty obvious that Bowling Green had raised their level of play from last year. I mean, most people would’ve probably realized that when they beat Minnesota,” he said with a chuckle.



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