Betting Cheat Sheet: Why sharps are backing Eagles, Patriots in Week 5
7: 00 AM ET
Doug KezirianESPN Sports Betting Insider
- ESPN Sports Betting Analyst
- Host for Daily Wager
- Behind The Bets podcast host
The calendar has turned to October, and many football fans and handicappers feel they now have a decent sense of each team. They are confident in their opinions and assessments, and they seem quite comfortable. We can now draw some conclusions from certain trends even though it has been only four weeks.
Professional bettors and oddsmakers all lean on power ratings and tweak their numbers accordingly. Professional bettor Erin Rynning shared with ESPN how much he weighs previous years, saying that “my handicapping is way more focussed on what these teams are now.” “But there is a baseline built into my numbers based on last year’s numbers to an important degree. “
One Sunday matchup highlights this concept and theoretically provides enormous line value depending on whether four weeks is sufficient.
The numbers you need to know
The Philadelphia Eagles have performed better than every other team in the first half, while no team has performed more poorly than the Arizona Cardinals. The NFL leads Philly in first-half scoring, and the Cardinals are in the bottom four. Arizona is the worst league in terms of point differential. Philly is at the top of the league. In each of the previous three seasons since Kyler Murray was drafted and became the starting QB, the Cardinals have ranked in the middle of the pack in first-half scoring. Although this first month may be unusual, it’s clear that Philly has a much more potent offense than last year. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has steadily improved and is a legitimate MVP candidate. It is therefore quite absurd to include previous seasons.
Oddsmakers determine first-half point spreads once they finalize the odds for the full game. It’s basically a clockwork system. They don’t set the odds in a vacuum. If an NFL team is a 5- to 5.5-point favorite, like the Eagles, then the first half line is 3 points. This has been true for all three of these scenarios this season.
I believe the first four weeks have enough data points to be useful. I think we all can create narratives to explain the statistics. Maybe Philly’s offense requires an adjustment period because it is so unique, even for teams that seem to have been prepared all week. Anyone who has watched the Cardinals can feel tension or lack of chemistry. I’m backing Philly in the first quarter regardless of these trends.
It’s not often I run to the window to bet a third-string quarterback, but this coaching matchup is way too desirable. 70-year-old Bill Belichick is still capable of wizardry and will likely push enough right buttons with Bailey Zappe, who is expected to start. Although I like Dan Campbell from Detroit, he is prone to making head-scratching choices. I expected Jared Goff to struggle yet again with Belichick, who held Goff’s Rams without a TD in the Super Bowl in 2019. Plus, the Lions are still nursing key injuries: D’Andre Swift is out, and Amon-Ra St. Brown is listed as questionable.
Line move of the week
Occasionally we see what is affectionately called reverse-line movement. This is when an overwhelming amount money is wagered on one end of a game, but the line moves in the opposite direction. This is an indication that respected money dictates the point spread regardless of the masses.
We have such a situation at the nation’s capital. The Titans were 2.5-point road favorites during the week. Despite the huge amount of action on Tennessee this week, the line has sunk to PK. All this resonates when you learn that, for example, Caesars Sportsbook has seen 84% of all wagers on this point spread on the Titans.
As I try to communicate every week, there are different tiers of sharp bettors. Thanks to technology, sportsbooks can classify them by analyzing their betting behavior. Respected money can end up on either side of a game. But I do my best to sort through the information and to contact my contacts to filter out the noise. Remember that their wagers determine the market so the numbers they bet on are often unavailable. Sharp money is on the Texans ( 7), Dolphins -3 and Patriots -3 respectively, Commanders 2, Browns -2.5 and Raiders ( 7) from a consensus perspective.
Teasers are a popular option for many bettors. These are like a parlay, as they provide action on multiple games and even the possibility to adjust the line in your favor. Although the payouts are much lower than parlays, you can still move a point spread significantly.
Sunday’s teaser will be the six-point, two-leg option with the Packers or Vikings. This means that Green Bay can be adjusted to a 2-point favorite, while Minnesota can lay 1.5 points. This is done by moving the point spread through key numbers seven, six, and three. And the juice is in the neighborhood of -130. I will also be taking part in this teaser, getting up early to see action in London.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.