Pinnacle Pulse 9/7/05

The Inside Line from
Simon Noble

Have you ever wondered what makes the point spread on a football game move from -3 to -3.5? Do you want to know the inside line on these moves before the games even kick off? Well here’s your chance! Throughout the entire football season, will aim to provide readers of this column with an unprecedented insight into the point spread movement on key games each week.

New Orleans Saints (+7) at Carolina Panthers
The Panthers opened as a 5 point favorite before the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Saints recently announced that its home opener on September 18th would not be in New Orleans, and that all home games might be played away from the Superdome.

There are big questions about the Saints’ ability to focus on football, and this has driven a flood of mainly public money on the Panthers. However, the Saints played well on the road last year, going 6-1 against the spread when playing as a “road dog”. Additionally, there has been very little action by the wise-guys, who might be waiting for closer to game time in hopes of getting New Orleans at +7.5.

Oakland Raiders (+7.5) at New England Patriots
Superbowl champions are 6-14 against the spread on the first game of the year since 1985. These matchups are classic cases of sharp v. square money. Last year, the volume of professional players outweighed public money for the first time ever on the Patriots-Colts game (which opened at -3.5, closed at -3, and landed on the “3”). Again, we are seeing a lot of public money on the Superbowl Champion Patriots.

This game is a dangerous one for us to book at -104 pricing, due to the spread being so close to the 7. If a player takes Oakland +7.5 -104, and the line moves to New England -7 -104, he has virtually a risk-free chance of winning if the game lands on the 7. It is the big games with middle possibilities like this one that cause the bookies to lose sleep at night.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns O/U 44
This total opened at 44.5, and was bet down to 43.5 earlier in the week. Another wave of money played over 43.5, making the “44” – one of the most common totals in the NFL – a bad number for the house. As a general rule of thumb, 3 field goals and either 3, 4, 5 or 6 TDS result in the most commonly occurring totals. It is not unusual to see totals gravitate towards certain key numbers like 37, 44 and 51 which act as “stopping points”. If a sharp player has an opinion on the game, he does not want to play it once the line has moved and a key number is now a losing number for his position.

#23 Notre Dame (+7) at #3 Michigan
Notre Dame is a unique phenomenon in college football. Whenever they win their first game, the bettors come out in droves to back them. The Fighting Irish looked impressive last week against Pittsburgh, with a variety of short passes, a poised Brady Quinn who frequently scrambled for large gains and Darius Walker, who rushed for 100 yards.

This game opened at Notre Dame +8, and was quickly bet down to +7. When a line moves early in the week, it is usually from sharp money. This is more often the case when the sharps like a public team as they want to get their plays in before public money forces the line to creep down. I expect a lot of public money on Notre Dame as we near the weekend and the game could even close as low as +6 at some sportsbooks.

#2 Texas (+1) at #7 Ohio State
Elite teams from the Big-10 and the Big-12 square off in an early match-up between these two perennial football powerhouses. Ohio State returns 18 starters and has two competent quarterbacks in Justin Zwick and Troy Smith. Texas returns only 16 starters including QB Vince Young, while their star running back Cedric Benson is now in the NFL.

Both teams looked impressive last week – Ohio State led Miami (Ohio) 34-0 before heavy substitutions in the 4th quarter and Texas won 60-3 against U.L. Lafayette with a run-dominated attack. Texas however had one unexpected deficiency in last week’s victory – kicker Richmond McGee missed 3 extra points. Early sharp money was on Ohio State, which opened as a one point underdog. In a tight game, a single missed extra-point makes BOTH teams more likely to win by exactly one or two – a missed PAT is often followed by a failed 2-pt. conversion attempt or field-goal. If either team wins by exactly one, those early Ohio State backers will be patting themselves on the back for beating the line move.

For action on these and all the other great games being played this weekend, visit Pinnacle Sports at and find a smarter way to bet with odds up to 60% better value than other sports books.

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