NFL Game of the Week: Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals
Last week in this space we examined the line movement and sharp money indicators for Sunday’s battle between the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. Our analysis showed that although it was one of the least popular games of the day, sharps were hammering the Redskins while squares were overwhelmingly taking the Saints.
Washington, who was a 1-point underdog at the time of publication, went on to win by 33-points with Kirk Cousins posting the perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Our best sharp money indicator came from the betting trends at the Las Vegas based William Hill sportsbook, where a majority of bettors were taking the Saints but more money had been bet on the ‘Skins.
In this week’s edition, we once again spoke with Michael Grodsky from William Hill who helped us break down Sunday night’s game between the Cardinals (7-2) and Bengals (8-1).
The Arizona Cardinals opened as 3.5-point favorites at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook and have received 62% of spread bets at our seven contributing offshore books. This public support is part of the reason that the Cardinals have moved from -3.5 to -5.
At the time of publication, there had been no bet signals triggered on this game which would seem to indicate that public money is largely responsible for this 1.5-point line move. For what it’s worth, our analysis on key numbers showed that “4” is the fifth most common margin of victory.
This level of public betting and line movement indicates that the Bengals are offering contrarian value, but we wanted to analyze how these offshore trends compared to Las Vegas trends.
Over at William Hill, the Cardinals opened as 3-point favorites and have received 64% of tickets and 74% of total dollars wagered. This influx of public money has forced them to adjust their line from Arizona -3 to -4.5.
Seeing this level of public support for the Cardinals is quite surprising. The Bengals were undefeated before last week, and bettors seem to be overreacting to their loss to the Texans on Monday night. There are also a number of lingering injuries for the Cardinals including WR Michael Floyd (Questionable, Hamstring), WR John Brown (Questionable, Hamstring) and G Mike Iupati (Doubtful, Neck).
That said, the Cardinals do fit a number of our previously discussed betting systems including one that focuses on high-scoring prime time favorites which has gone 83-47 ATS (63.8%) with +33.02 units won.
It’s worth noting that the Cardinals (+725) have better odds of winning the Super Bowl than the Bengals (+950). It’s also interesting that Carson Palmer (+1000) has better odds of winning the MVP Award than Andy Dalton (+3300).
Based on these contradicting betting trends and systems, spread bettors may want to lay off this game. While there may not be obvious value on the spread, there does appear to be value on the total.
The over/under for this game opened at 47 and, with 68% of public bets taking the over, the total has climbed to 49. This line movement is fascinating for a variety of reasons.
Using our Bet Labs software, we found that the under actually has a losing record of 1,540-1,567 (49.6%) all-time. When the total increased by at least a half-point that record improves to 620-575 (51.9%) and when the closing total is at least 48 that record once again improves to 141-113 (55.5%).
The Bengals have the league’s best defense, allowing just 16.9 points per game while the Cardinals defense has been above average, allowing 20.6 points per game. With public money largely responsible for this 2-point line move, bettors should confidently take Under 49.
These numbers are subject to change before kickoff, so bettors should be sure to visit our free NFL odds page for the latest lines, injuries, public betting trends and more.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.