Behind The Betting Lines 1/21/2005

by T.B
Courtesy of
1/21/2005 7:21PM EST

Behind The Lines Vol. 21

The results last week are what happens when the public tries to get too cute.  In the first round of the playoffs, three out of four underdogs won their games outright.  So for the Divisional games the public decided to load up on the ‘dogs early.  It was a predictable, albeit foolish, reaction.  All year the public has been riding the cream of the crop in the league with incredible success.  Article after article has been written about how badly the books did this football season.

But like lemmings going over the cliff, the public decided to throw that logic out the window.  The Minnesota vs. Philly game was a textbook example of, “What the bleep were they thinking when they made that line?”  It opened at 10, but by game time it had dropped to 8.5 and even 8 in some places.  The TD by Minnesota in the last 2 minutes prevented it from being a total loss for the players but it didn’t help that much.

The books just rolled right through the weekend.  As I mentioned on Friday the ‘dogs were getting the majority of the action in all four games.  Some of the smart money came in late though, so by game time on Saturday most books needed the Jets and St. Louis for a little bit.

The Jets game was a heartbreaker, an ominous sign to start things off.  New York had two legitimate chances to win the game and, more importantly for the hardworking fellas down here on the islands, two chances to break up all Pittsburgh action.  But as they’ve managed to do all season, the Steelers somehow pulled out a victory.

I was in the office of Curacao-based Oasis Casino on Saturday evening.  In the late game the line was Atlanta -7 and St. Louis was getting a ton of action.  In my column on Friday I had advised taking St. Louis in my Teaser Of  The Week.  But after watching what happened with the late action coming in on Pittsburgh in the early game, I just had that intuitive feeling the same thing was going to happen with late action coming in on Atlanta.

The linesman at Oasis hung on as long as he could but after awhile the entire world was sitting at 6.5, so a change had to be made.  It’s one thing to stick to your principles and not move on air, but you don’t want to be the ONLY place offering a particular line.  Charlie Therwanger tried that at Sports Market a few years back and now there’s no such company as Sports Market.  Tough call to make but with Atlanta blowing up all teaser action, the game was still a win for the books.

Sunday’s action couldn’t have gone any better.  There was no comeback on the favorites in those games, even though we were talking about the 13-3 Eagles and the 14-2 Patriots.  Everyone fell in love with the Colts after they spanked a Broncos squad that had no business calling itself a playoff team.  The result of both home favorites covering was one of the best single days the sportsbooks had all football season, and that was only on two games’ worth of action.  Now we have only two games this weekend so let’s get to it.

Atlanta @ Philadelphia – Sun. 3:00 PM (FOX)

The game opened with Philly a 4 pt. favorite.  Overall the Eagles are getting 58% of the action.  But with a new feature added to just in time for the championship games, you can also see where the action is going at each individual casino.  What an incredible tool.  Now you’ll be able to predict which places are going to make a line move before it happens.

As we can see the line has jumped up to -5 and even -5.5 in some places.  It looks like the public is resisting the urge to fall all over the Falcons after their dismantling of St. Louis in a dome last week.  Smart move, as right now the forecast is for up to a foot of snow.

Bad weather doesn’t necessarily count against the Falcons though, as they had the top-ranked rushing offense in the league.  Parlays and Teasers, as well as Total bets are just about dead even in this one.

New England @ Pittsburgh – Sun. 6:30 PM (CBS)

Warning!  Warning!  Right when the line came out New England -1.5, the first question that popped into my mind was, “How is it the #1 seed in the AFC, playing at home, is installed as an underdog in the Championship game?”  Even more amazingly the public has jumped all over the visiting Patriots and the game now has now moved to -3 with variations on the juice you’ll have to lay.

Overall New England is getting 76% of the action, which is a huge number for a Championship game.  Can you imagine?  The top seed in the conference, getting points at home, and they’re attracting less than ¼ of the bets?  I realize New England looked great in once again stopping the Colts, but Pittsburgh is not Indy.  Sure New England is trying to take their place as one of the all-time great NFL dynasties, but every ounce of gambling logic I’ve accumulated over the years points to Pittsburgh.

Teaser Of The Week

Two teams playing at home in front frenzied crowds in crappy weather?  I’ll take them.  Philly finally gets its’ shot at the big one.  We’ll shove it all in on Philly getting +2 at home and Pittsburgh all the way up to +10.  Enjoy the games this weekend … T.B.