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Opening Line Report - Week 14
NCAAFB - OLR Bowls

Here are early betting numbers for Week 14 of the NFL season, with insight from two Las Vegas bookmakers – South Point sports book director Chris Andrews and CG Technology vice president of risk Jason Simbal.

Point spreads and totals are the Vegas consensus as of about 4 p.m. ET on Monday, and differences among books and early betting patterns are noted, too.

Thursday, Dec. 7

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (-1, 53.5)

Atlanta opened between -1 and -2.5 in Las Vegas, but early action has been on New Orleans, and this NFC South contest is down to a pick ‘em at some shops. The sentiment for the Saints isn’t surprising, as they bounced back from their loss at the Rams with an impressive 31-21 win at home over the Panthers. The Falcons came up empty in a 14-9 home loss to the Vikings, a telling effort in Andrews’ opinion.

“It was big loss for Atlanta today,” Andrews said Sunday night. “I really liked them going into this game. It was a situation where they were life-and-death; and yeah, they were going to go out and compete, but how desperate would Minnesota be? Not really too desperate.”

The Falcons face perhaps an even more important challenge in Week 14

“It’s a must-win for Atlanta,” Simbal said, “especially since Aaron Rodgers is looming in background and the Packers play the Browns. So to me they have to win this game if they want any shot at the playoffs.”

Sunday, Dec. 10

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no line)

Oddsmakers will wait to learn more about Matt Stafford’s status before hanging a number on this one.

Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5, 39.5)

Respected money laid Cincy -6, the opener at CG, prompting a move to -6.5 on Sunday night, according to Simbal.

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (no line)

If Tyrod Taylor can’t go, Nathan Peterman will get another shot for the Bills. His first start didn’t go well, and there’s a steep drop from Taylor to Peterman in terms of the betting line.

Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3/-120, 39.5)

The Westgate SuperBook opened Jacksonville -3 flat Sunday night, reposted -3.5 Monday morning, and settled back to -3 (-120) a few hours later. William Hill opened -3.5 flat, before inching downward to -3.5 even and then -3 (-120). The Jacksonville -2.5 opener at the Golden Nugget has been adjusted upward to -3 (-120). So it appears the market has found its right price on this key inter-conference clash.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5, 47.5)

The opening line at the Wynn was bet from Kansas City -4.5 to -3 by Monday, an indication that wiseguys are taking the points. Other shops opened K.C. -4 and adjusted to -3.5, while some did the reverse of that, opening -3.5 and moving to -4.

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The Chiefs’ loss at the Jets on Sunday was their sixth in their last seven games (they’re an abominable 1-6 ATS during that run), but the Raiders’ 24-17 win as 9.5-point favorites over a Geno Smith-led mess of a Giants team won’t garner much respect among the betting market.

“I found the Raiders to be very unimpressive against the Giants,” Simbal said. “They really didn’t play well at all. The Giants dropped like three interceptions they should have had, and obviously we know the Giants’ offensive situation.”

Simbal summed up next week’s battle of 6-6 AFC West squads thusly, “I don’t like either of these teams. I think it’s the Chargers division for the taking.”

Minnesota Vikings (-3 even, 41.5) at Carolina Panthers

Carolina was the 1-point favorite according to the Westgate’s opening line, the first posted in Vegas, but there’s an overwhelming feeling among early bettors that the Vikings are the right side here. By Monday afternoon, the Westgate was dealing Minnesota -3 even, which has become the most popular number in town. The Vikes can still be had for -2.5 (-120) at a few shops as of this writing.

“This will be a tough matchup for the Panthers because they don’t have much firepower in their standard, smash mouth (offense), and the Vikings front seven is the strength of that team,” said Simbal.

Simbal also pointed out that Minnesota’s eight-game win streak has come against formidable competition.

“It seems that every team they’re beating is a playoff team, so it’s very impressive what they’re doing,” Simbal said.

Green Bay Packers (-3.5, 40.5) at Cleveland Browns

The Packers opened -6 at the Westgate, but that number was bet down to -3.5 on Sunday night. The line continued to move toward the home dog Monday, to Green Bay -3 (-120). It’s hard to envision the public following the sharps with bets on Cleveland– not only are the Browns winless, they’ve covered just three spreads all season.

San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans (-2, 42.5)

With Jimmy Garoppolo now starting for San Francisco, it seems clear which team has the edge at quarterback here. That’s probably a big factor in the sharps’ decision to back the Niners early, moving CG’s opener of Houston -2.5 to -1.5 on Sunday, for example. The Texans have been as cheap as -1.5 in early Vegas wagering.

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5, 46)

The Chargers’ only two losses over their last eight games have come at New England and at Jacksonville, and they’ve earned plenty of respect among bookmakers and bettors. They’re hovering between -6 and -6.5 for next week’s home tilt vs. the Redskins.

New York Jets (-1, 41) at Denver Broncos

Bettors are fading the woebegone Broncos and understandably so – they haven’t won a game since Oct. 1. After Denver opened -1.5 at a multiple shops, the line has flipped to Jets -1.5 at some betting parlors.

Tennessee Titans (-3, 44) at Arizona Cardinals

The Westgate opened Tennessee -2.5, William Hill went -3.5 (even), and the market has met in the middle at a field goal, albeit with varying amounts of juice.

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams (-2, 51)

The Westgate installed Philly as the 2.5-point favorite for next weeks’ game at the Rams before the Eagles lost at Seattle on Sunday night. The book reposted the game at pick ‘em Monday, but moved the Rams to as rich as -2.5 later in the day, before settling at Rams -2. As of this writing, Eagles backers can grab +2.5 at MGM Resorts, while Rams believers can lay -1.5 at the Wynn.

Dallas Cowboys (-5, 41.5) at New York Giants

Dallas -6 was the consensus line Sunday night, but as news broke Monday that Eli Manning will be back under center for the Giants, the number quickly became -4.5. It’s moved back in the Cowboys’ direction since, most shops dealing -5.

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7 even, 41)

Some early play on the dog here, as the Westgate adjusted from -7 flat to -7 even. Pitt opened -6.5 at CG.

Baltimore, whose defense has shut out three opponents this season, has quietly played its way into the playoff picture, currently holding the No. 6 seed.

The Ravens’ odds to win the Super Bowl have been shortened from 75/1 to 60/1 at the South Point.

“I’m not sure how far they can go in the playoffs, even winning a game, but I have a feeling they’ll sneak in,” said Andrews.

Simbal added of Baltimore’s postseason prospects, “If I was the division winner who gets the No. 3 seed, I would much rather play Buffalo or Oakland or one of those teams than the Ravens, because you never want to deal with that defense and a veteran quarterback in the playoffs.”

Losing cornerback Jimmy Smith for the season, though, is a tough blow and looms particularly large for the Week 14 Sunday nighter.

“If there’s one game you don’t want to miss him, it’s the Steelers for obvious reasons,” Simbal said.

Monday, Dec. 11

The Westgate’s opening line of New England -10.5 jumped to -12 within the first hour of wagering Sunday night, as bettors backed the Pats to cover their seventh straight game. On Monday, when Rob Gronkowski was handed a one-game suspension for his egregious late hit on Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White, the number inched back to -11 at the Westgate but remained as high -12, at William Hill.

Marcus DiNitto is a writer in Charlotte, N.C., who covers sports betting and all kinds of other stuff. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusDiNitto.

  
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