Line analysis: Wild-Card Weekend

0 Comments 📁 Slider 🕔02.January 2014
Line analysis: Wild-Card Weekend

Of the four wild-card games on the slate this weekend, three are expected to be tight affairs. Oddsmakers opened the Colts (vs. Kansas City), Eagles (vs. New Orleans) and 49ers (at Green Bay) all as 2.5-point favorites. In the fourth game, the Bengals were hung predominately as 6.5-point favorites over the Chargers.

Although the Niners-Packers game saw the same opening line as both Saints-Eagles and Chiefs-Colts, the caveat is the Niners are the road team, meaning Green Bay would be getting well over a touchdown if the game were being played in San Francisco.

Because 2.5 is such a tenuous number (oddsmakers will always adjust the juice before moving onto or over 3, as wiseguys love laying 2.5 and taking 3 or 3.5), there wasn’t a ton of line movement as of Thursday afternoon. Philly was holding strong at -2.5, and the ticket split (54-46 in favor of the Eagles) reflected that. Same for Indy and KC, with 58 percent of tickets having come in on the Colts side.

The major exception was the Niners-Packers game, which had seen a sizable majority of action on the road favorite (66 percent of tickets). That forced most of the big books (Caesars, Cantor, MGM) to move the line onto the key number of 3 at even money. The LVH, meanwhile – a notorious sharp book – twice moved to 3 on Monday before settling back at 2.5. That back and forth can be attributed to sharp guys taking the 3 with the Packers.

Since something major would have to happen for the number to move to 3.5 – an adjustment that would create all kinds of liability for the books, as a middle on 3 would open up – Packers backers should probably take the +3 wherever they can find it, because chances are the LVH movement is a sign of things to come at other properties.

As for Chargers-Bengals, the line rather quickly jumped from 6.5 to 7, which is where it has remained since early Monday at most shops. While it’s enticing to take the 7 with San Diego, it’s important to keep in mind the fact that the betting public has a short memory.

Given that San Diego is fresh off barely escaping against the Chiefs’ JV team while the Bengals tuned up the Ravens, recreational bettors will likely be betting Cincy en masse as the weekend hits. Which is to say bettors who like the Chargers should wait it out and see if a hook is added to that touchdown as kickoff approaches.

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