Pinnacle Pulse 12/07/2005

Pinnacle Pulse
The inside line from
by Simon Noble
12/07/2005  10:21PM EST

Welcome to the Pinnacle Pulse where the line managers at look to give you an insider’s view of the point spread movement on key games each week and provide you with a little gambling theory to help you find a smarter way to bet courtesy of Pinnacle Sports.

Indianapolis Colts Chances for Perfection
The talk of this NFL season has been how the Indianapolis Colts have dominated their opponents on their way to an astounding 12-0 start. Only the 1972 Dolphins have finished with an unblemished regular season record and no team has gone undefeated since the schedule was expanded to 16 regular season games. With this in mind, one has to wonder what the chances are that Indianapolis will win out its last 4 games.

Next up on the schedule are the Jacksonville Jaguars, the only team to have a second-half lead against the Colts. In their first meeting, Jacksonville was up 3-0 before losing 10-3. The moneyline on this game at Pinnacle Sports is -316/+296, which suggests that Indy will win this match-up 74.7% (306/406) of the time.

At 12-0, Indianapolis has already clinched a playoff spot and if they defeat the Jaguars, the Colts will also secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This adds a new twist to the equation: Will Coach Tony Dungy rest his key players? When interviewed, he was unsure. A quarterback has about a 1 in 16 chance of getting injured if he plays a full game. For this reason, it’s common for playoff-bound teams in meaningless games to rest key starters. Despite Dungy’s ambiguous answers to questions on resting players, I think he’ll maintain his focus on winning the Super Bowl.

If they reach 13-0, the Colts would then host the Chargers with home field advantage locked up. If this game were played two weeks earlier, the Colts would be about an 11-point favorite (-830/+750). In that scenario, Indy would win about 88.7% of the time. In past seasons, the lines have adjusted about 6 points for teams in “rest situations”, but the resting teams have done poorly against the spread. I believe we are therefore likely to see an 8-point spread adjustment, so resting most starters would change the line to Colts -3 (-150/+140), suggesting Indy would win 59%.

Beating San Diego would make Indianapolis 14-0, and they would next visit Seattle. The Seahawks have already won their division and would likely be playing for home field advantage. If neither team were resting, the visiting Colts would be about 4-point favorites. Assuming the Colts nap and the Seahawks don’t also take the afternoon off, the adjusted line would be Seahawks -4 (-185/+175). In either case, the 4-point favorite should win about 64% of the time.

Should the Colts be 15-0 heading into the final week of the season, they would be heavy favorites at home versus Arizona. Super Bowl aspirations aside, I’m not sure Coach Dungy could rest his players at home against a cakewalk opponent with history on the line. If the Colts played full strength, this line would be about -18 with a greater home field advantage than normal. Resting would still make the Colts a solid 10-point favorite. The Colts will win 94% if they don’t rest, or 87% if they do.

In conclusion: if Indy chooses to rest its players, I calculate the chances of them going 16-0 as:
(0.747) (0.59) (0.36) (0.87) = 13.8%, or -654 (No) / +594 (yes).

However if Indy plays for history, the odds of going 16-0 adjust to:
(.747)(.887)(.64)(.94) = 40%, or -155 (No) / +145 (Yes).

Do you have an opinion on whether Indy will finish 16-0? Have you read something I’ve missed about Tony Dungy’s willingness to risk injuries to Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison while chasing a perfect regular season record? Or do you have some other insight? You can bet your opinion at as we are now offering odds on the prop:

Will Indy go 16-0?
Yes -165
No +147

We have also seen interesting line movement on Indy’s AFC South match-up against the Jags this week as well as on the following games listed below.

Indianapolis (-7.5) at Jacksonville
With starting Jaguar QB Byron Leftwich out for another few weeks, the Jags will once again rely on replacement David Garrard. He led Jacksonville to victory against Arizona and Cleveland, but faces a much stiffer test against the third-ranked defense of the Colts. A win for Jacksonville locks up a wildcard position, whereas an Indy victory in any of its last 4 games will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

We opened the game at Colts -7. Indy is clearly a public team and we are taking four times as many bets on them as the Jaguars. The sharps seem split on this game with some playing Indy at -7 and significantly more on Jacksonville at +7.5.

Chicago (+6) at Pittsburgh
The Bears have relied heavily on defense during their current 8-game win streak by holding opponents to 8.5 points per game, picking off 10 interceptions with 337 interception-return yards and scoring 3 TDs. Not surprisingly, quarterback Kyle Orton has been part of a very conservative, run-based offense that minimizes mistakes, but only generates 16.8 points per game.

Pittsburgh also boasts an above-average defense allowing less than 19 points per game. With Roethlisberger starting, the Steeler offense has been productive with 337 yards per game. Unless the Chicago defense can score or generate several turnovers, a more balanced Pittsburgh team is the favorite to prevail.

This has been our highest volume game of the week thus far. We opened this game at Chicago +4 and took several early hits from sharps on Pittsburgh. The market price has crept up since until it topped off at +5.5 and +6. At this price, we are seeing the professional players side with Chicago.

New England (-3) at Buffalo
At 7-5, a New England victory would be enough to clinch the mediocre AFC East division (whose other three teams are a combined 11-25). The Bills at 4-8, can still mathematically win the division by winning out the season and there are also a few scenarios where a 7-9 team could still win the division.

We opened this game at -3 -125. While the public is favoring the Patriots, there is dissent among the sharps. A majority of the pros are taking Buffalo +3 +115, while a few are favoring New England -3 whenever the price drifts to -115 or better.

And now for something completely different…

Miss World Finals
Over 100 of the most beautiful women on earth will gather in Sanya, China this Saturday to compete for the title of Miss World 2005. I can only think that our red blooded odds makers have had way too much time on their hands this week, as they have created individual odds on over 40 contestants to win the Miss World title. Believe it or not, we have seen a very strong move and sharp money show for Miss Philippines, where our opener of +2000 was driven down to +500.

We also originally offered Miss Namibia at +1000 to advance to the finals of Miss World. Knowledgeable sharps with an eye for the ladies have also pounded this number down to -500.


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