Behind the Betting Lines 12/03/2004

by T.B
Courtesy of
12/03/2004 1:25 PM EST

Behind The Lines Vol. 14

Before I get into the meat and potatoes I have to take a moment to recognize my Sports Hero for 2004.  The award goes to Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, and it’s based on one single act.  With 4:45 to go in the 4th quarter of a one point game Wednesday night, Rivers benched his best player, Paul Pierce, because Pierce wasn’t running the fast break hard enough.  Pierce reacted like a spoiled 5th grader, swearing and sulking while on the sidelines.  This didn’t come as a surprise as I’m sure 98% of the league would have reacted the same way.

Rivers then went even further to win my admiration by putting Pierce back in the game with just under 3 minutes to go.  Any rational observer realized he wasn’t trying to embarass Pierce, but to get a point across: everyone’s expected to play the way the coach wants them to play.  Hopefully Celtics boss Danny Ainge backs his coach on this one, but then again Ainge once sat there and did nothing when one of his players, Robert Horry, came off the floor and threw a towel in his face when he was coaching the Phoenix Suns.  Doc Rivers, this corner salutes you.

Well, well, well, if you’re a Square favorites player, has this been the NFL season for you.  Last week most books were on their way to yet another horrific Sunday.  Here are a couple of statistics that will illustrate just how bad it was for the books last week:

– In the 15 NFL games, 10 of the teams the public backed covered their games outright
– In the 5 remaining games, 4 of the teams the public backed covered in Teaser bets

So 14 of the 15 teams the public backed won in Teaser bets.  That’s uh, not good.  Heading into the Sunday night game most of the offshore bookies were ready to go cliff-jumping.  Not the Acapulco, ‘Wide World of Sports’ kind, the 1929 stock market crash kind.  It was another Black Sunday and Denver looked to be easy money to make it another historic wipeout.  Thankfully the Raiders pulled one out of their you-know-what, and saved the day.  It wasn’t a big win and some places didn’t even get back on the plus side, but if that game had gone the other way?  Wow, that might have been the last straw.

Everyone was still optimistic coming out of the horrendous baseball season, because nobody expects to earn during baseball.  But if you don’t make your money during football, that’s bad.  Very bad.  Knowing what I know and how a lot of the offshore places like to inflate their numbers to make them sound bigger than they really are, there is NO WAY a few places won’t be going out of business, especially some of the newer books.  It’s all well and good to say we have X amount of new signups, but if you don’t start winning some of these monster decisions you are FUBAR.  I’m not going to pretend to know which books won’t be standing because as I said, you can’t get a straight answer out of these places about how they’re really doing.  Watch out for the slow-pays to start, or any change in their normal operation.  That’s always a good tipoff.

Another side effect of all this losing is the guys working the lineboard may start to get a little gunshy.  After you’ve gotten your d— knocked in the dirt week after week, those huge decisions on games start to look rather uninviting.  So they’ll start to shade those favorites even higher.  The smart ones with a solid bankroll won’t because they know the games will turn eventually and you don’t want to give away that profit.  But there could be some good value out there if you’re looking to bet ‘dogs the next few weeks.  With all that said, let’s take a look at a couple of games where this phenomenon is likely to take place.

Minnesota @ Chicago – Sun. 1:00 (FOX)

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!  Minnesota is a 7 pt. favorite on the road against the Bears.  In years past there is no way this number moves off of 7, no matter what the action is.  And looking at the facts, there shouldn’t be a move here either.  Minnesota is up and down, the Bears play tough at home, it’s a divisional game and Chicago is only one game out of the NFC Wild Card race.  Looking at the bet percentages though, we see the Vikings are getting 91% of the Straights and 86% of the ‘Junk.’
Obviously it’s shaping up to be a monster decision.  If those numbers don’t come down as it gets closer to kickoff, keep an eye out for those 7.5’s to come popping up.  Sports Interaction is already there, but that comes as no surprise.  If some other places start to move, you know they’re getting a little nervous.

Pittsburgh @ Jacksonville – Sun. 8:30 (ESPN)

Another game with a home team in a must-win situation.  Jacksonville is 6-5 and another loss will almost ensure they’ll be on the outside looking in come playoff time.  On top of that the Jags are a primetime, home ‘dog getting 3 points, so they’ll be especially pumped because they’re the only show in town.  Ah, but on the other side we have the mighty Steelers, outright winners of 9 straight.  In that nine game winning streak, only two of the wins have been by less than a touchdown.
Accordingly the public is riding Pittsburgh to the tune of 90% of the Straights and 79% of the Junk.  The primetime game on Sunday, a game that has the potential to make or break a sportsbook’s day.  Do you think a few places might move off of that 3 before gametime?

Teaser Of The Week

Last week was easy money.  New England and Philadelphia both rolled and covered without even needing the benefit of the Teaser points.  It’s looking more and more like we might finally have the dream matchup some of my Philly buddies have been calling for the last few years, only to see their beloved Eagles blow it again.  Pittsburgh is up there too, but if Corey Dillon is full strength the road to the championship still goes through Foxboro.
Only one line really jumps out at me and that’s teasing St. Louis down to -3.5 at home against San Francisco.  The 49ers are horrible and lost by 10 at home to this Rams squad.  I don’t see them putting up much of a fight on the road this week.  The second is a hunch play, that the Bears show up at home and will lose by less than 14.  Enjoy the games this weekend … T.B.