Looks like the sharps and the squares are both on the San Francisco 49ers in their NFC title game against the Seattle Seahawks. Or are they? The NFL betting lines seem to be edging in the other direction.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 14 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
There’s something rotten in the state of football. Our NFL consensus reports show nearly 60 percent of bettors supporting the San Francisco 49ers (14-4 SU, 12-6 ATS) in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks (14-3 SU, 11-6 ATS). And the football betting patterns from Vegas show the Niners getting the earliest of that early action. Good Lord. Are the sharps really on San Francisco in this matchup?
Sharpening the Saw
Maybe not. Take a closer look at those NFL betting lines: When I made my early pick, Ladbrokes had Seattle listed at –3.5 (+100), but as we go to press, the line sits at Seattle –3.5 (–105). Assuming that Ladbrokes is balancing the action and not trying to “trap” people into betting the Niners, that line move means more money has come in on the Seahawks. More money from fewer people means deeper pockets, which usually means sharper action.
That’s just one online sportsbook, though. If you parse through the lines history on our NFL odds board, you’ll find some locations moving slightly in the other direction, from –3.5 (–110) to –3.5 (–105), or even swaying back and forth between those two prices. Others are sticking with Seattle –3 at higher chalk of –120 or –125. Whatever the case, we haven’t moved all that much from the opening odds. Which again suggests the Seahawks supporters are the ones with the deeper pockets.
Well, shoot. Literally just as I write this, our first expanded beta consensus reports have come down the wire, and it’s the 49ers getting 87 percent of the money as we go to press. The average NFL bet on San Francisco is $422, compared to $87 for Seattle. Holy doodle. Maybe everybody and his dog is really on San Francisco. Given the disparity in bet size between the teams, either the sharps have been drinking Jim Harbaugh’s Kool-Aid, or maybe there are some whales out there, to use a poker term, betting huge amounts on the Niners simply because they made the Super Bowl last year. Hmmph.
Pennies from Heaven
This is where I give my standard occasional reminder to take these small line adjustments seriously – especially when we’re dancing around the magic number three. A few cents here and there on the NFL lines will add up over time, just like you’ll save money in the long run by ditching those incandescent light bulbs. Get the LEDs already. Be a good person.
The fine folks at the Wizard of Odds tell us that the “fair price” for moving between –3 and –3.5 would be 21.4 cents, so if you have a choice between Seahawks –3 (–120) and Seahawks –3.5 (–105), you should take the former. It’s worth the extra juice to turn a few of those potential losses into pushes. Same goes for taking the Niners at +3 (+100) instead of +3.5 (–115), but in this case, you’re risking turning a win into a push in order to get a bigger payout from the vig. Don’t forget, about one-sixth of NFL games end with a winning margin of a field-goal.
I’m not about to change my pick given the history between these two teams (Seattle’s 5-0 ATS in their past five meetings overall and 5-0 ATS at The Clink) and their respective bodies of work this season. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. I’d also wait to get a better price – maybe the Seahawks will fall back to –3 or even –2.5 at this rate.NFL Pick: Take the Seahawks –3.5 (–101) at Pinnacle