How To React To This Week's NFL Odds Movement

Matthew Jordan

Friday, September 5, 2014 3:43 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 5, 2014 3:43 PM UTC

The first Sunday of the 2014 NFL season is upon us -- here is hoping there are more dramatic games than Thursday's Seahawks pummeling of Green Bay -- so let's examine three games that had big line moves, and perhaps understand why the NFL odds have moved.

New Orleans at Atlanta (+3)
Sportsbooks had the Falcons as 1.5-point favorites in early August. So what changed? I think this one has a lot to do with the media. Let me explain. First off, you are hearing a lot of buzz about how this might be the best Saints team ever -- Archie Manning thinks so -- and that it's a Super Bowl-caliber team. New Orleans already was electric offensively and it now has the Offensive Rookie of the Year betting favorite in receiver Brandin Cooks. Casual bettors tend to listen to what the media says. In addition, could this have something to do with "Hard Knocks?" Don't laugh, but the Falcons didn't look all that great while featured on HBO's excellent show this summer. Atlanta has already lost starting left tackle Sam Baker to a season-ending injury and back in the spring lost linebacker Sean Weatherspoon for the year. Starting running back Steven Jackson looked done last year and hurt his hamstring early in camp. He will play Sunday but didn't take a single preseason snap. It also doesn't hurt that this game is obviously in a dome and that plays right into Brees' hands. Around 70 percent of the action on the spread in this game has been on the Saints.
Free NFL Pick: Wait for a half-point move in NFL Odds, or buy it. At 2.5, Saints. At 3.5, Falcons.

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Minnesota at St. Louis (-3.5)
This is what you call a quarterback overreaction. The Rams opened as 6-point favorites, but the Vikings are taking nearly 75 percent of the lean. I'm not sure why. OK, the Rams did lose starting quarterback Sam Bradford during the preseason, but Shaun Hill is a very capable backup. In fact, his career stats are better than Bradford's in some ways. I would rather have Hill as my starter than Minnesota's Matt Cassel. I also believe bettors are taking the preseason WAY too much into account. The Vikings were one of three unbeaten teams in the NFL and outscored foes by 40 points. Meanwhile, St. Louis was just 1-3. So what? When these teams met in 2012, Adrian Peterson rushed for 212 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown, in Minnesota's 36-22 win. The Vikings are nowhere near as good as that playoff team, while the Rams' defense is much, much better and probably a Top-5 unit.
Free NFL Pick: I'm hoping this drops to 3, but go with St. Louis as your NFL pick.

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Carolina at Tampa Bay (-2.5, 38.5)
Now, this is an appropriate quarterback reaction. The Panthers opened as high as 3-point favorites but this line has taken a 180 largely because of the fractured rib suffered by Carolina QB Cam Newton late in the preseason. Newton didn't practice on Wednesday, was limited Thursday and is officially being called a game-time decision. He will play, no doubt, with a flak jacket on. Think the Bucs might try to hit him in the rib area a few times? The Panthers offense looks pretty sad as it is, but can you imagine how bad it will be if Derek Anderson has to replace Newton? For one, Anderson stinks. But he has no mobility and the Bucs could just bring the house. Meanwhile, Newton's 28 rushing touchdowns the past three years are 21 more than the next closest quarterback. However, will he be comfortable enough with that injury to run? That's really when you get hit. Incidentally, the total has dropped more than three points from its opening at some books and this is now the lowest on the board.
Free NFL Pick: The Panthers routed the Bucs twice last year, but these teams are going opposite directions. Take vastly improved Tampa Bay at 5Dimes.

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