Behind the Betting Lines 12/10/2004

by T.B
Courtesy of
12/10/2004 6:33 PM EST

Behind The Lines Vol. 15

Panic has set in and I’m surprised on two counts. First, what took so long and second, why the overreaction? Let me explain. It’s been a hellish season for the bookies, that point has been covered in this column and in various other places this year. In fact, most places will tell you it’s their worst football season ever. That’s coming from offshore books as well as local guys. For weeks I’ve been hearing from my friends in the industry, “When are they going to adjust the lines?” You could look at 6 or 7 games on Monday and just know you’re going to have monster decisions later on in the week.
Supposedly the purpose of the oddsmaker is to come up with a line that’s going to generate 50-50 action on both teams. Of course, that’s never going to happen but you’d at least like to keep it within reason. Well this year it hasn’t even been close, there have been games that were beyond lopsided. Let’s take a look at last week for instance.

– 9 games on the schedule had bet percentages of 78% or higher on one team
– Of those games, 7 had bet percentages of 83% of higher
– And most outrageous of all, 5 of those games had bet percentages of 90% or higher on one team

Of those nine games last week, the results were 4-4-1 so Sunday wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it had been the previous couple of weeks. Throw in Dallas breaking up all Seattle teasers with their wild win and the weekend was a big exhale for most shops. Not that it was a big profit, but after the beatings the books have been taken a small victory is far better than another huge loss.

Getting back to another point we mentioned, the question of when the oddsmakers are going to make a market correction and start putting out some more competitive spreads. Well I guess we got our answer. Week 14 gives us:

– a whopping 13 of 15 games on the board with point spreads of a touchdown or higher
– 7 of those games have spreads of 9 points or higher

And what did all these monster numbers do to the bet percentages? A grand total of two games have bet percentages higher than 78% on one team. In my humble opinion I think they went overboard. The sportsbooks are in need of a monster weekend to salvage something out of this football season and I thought this was going to be the week. However, I’m not sure if the more balanced action is going to accomplish that. Without calling in to my connections I know what the refrain for Sunday is going to be, “Break up teasers.” This is actually a worse-case scenario because you can’t win a ton on these games but if both sides of the spread hit in the teaser bets, it could get real ugly again. Let’s take a look at a couple of matchups …

Indianapolis @ Houston – Sun. 1:00 (CBS)

OK, so here is one of the lopsided games. Indianapolis opened as a true 10 point favorite in this one. Ten is not an easy number to move off of. It’s not a 3 or a 7, but still there’s some hesitation. However, as of now, there is not one book still at that number. We have 10.5’s, 11’s, even a 12. The public is going to ride these Colts until they breakdown and this week they’re doing it to the tune of 93% of Straight bets and 92% of the Parlays and Teasers.

Even I’ve been on this bandwagon, including Indy in my Teaser of The Week just about every other Sunday. But something stinks about this game. Maybe it’s because roughly 98% of the population is sick of seeing Manning rack up these TD’s late in blowouts. But for me it has more to do with the way Houston plays at home. They are a different team. Two of the three losses at home were by a field goal and the other loss was in OT. They just don’t get blown out at home.

NY Giants @ Baltimore – Sun. 1:00 (FOX)

You think maybe Tom Coughlin made the QB switch a little early? After losing two tough ones, they made the switch to Eli Manning and lost another three straight. The last two have been embarrassments. Baltimore has also lost two straight and really needs this game if they want to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

I have a feeling if this game was played 2 weeks ago, before Baltimore’s two losses, the line would be somewhere around a TD. Now it’s 10 across the board. This is a great example of a game where I think the linesmakers went overboard in their compensation. The general public doesn’t think so as they are firing on the Ravens with 67% of the Straights and 68% of the Junk. Fire now or wait until kickoff. It doesn’t matter as this 10 isn’t going anywhere.

Teaser Of The Week

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Another one for the good guys last week. Didn’t have to break much of a sweat either as we had one leg in with St. Louis and then Chicago, a home ‘dog, won their game outright. Looking at this week, we’re going with BIG ‘dogs. A high school buddy of mine called me this morning asking my opinion on a couple of games. Told me the line on Buffalo was -4.5 and I still thought about going with Cleveland. Now I see the line is 11! Buffalo’s looked good the last couple of weeks, but c’mon that’s ridiculous.

Another team that’s getting 11 is Cincinnati on the road at New England. The Patriots are not a blowout-type team, despite their romp last week over the Browns. So this week we’re going heavy with the deadweight in the AFC North. Both Cleveland and Cincy teased up to + 18. Enjoy the games this weekend … T.B.