The average NFL bettor has a very short memory. What happened on Sunday has bigger sway over their bets than a team’s season-long resume.
The Atlanta Falcons, who boast the NFC’s best record at 11-2 SU, just suffered their second loss of the year in a 30-20 beatdown courtesy of the Carolina Panthers in Week 14.
Atlanta, which has already won the NFC South and earned a spot in the postseason, is a 1-point home favorite in Week 15 hosting the New York Giants, who just rolled the Falcons’ division rivals, the New Orleans Saints, 52-27 this past Sunday.
“We don’t want to forget just how good Atlanta is,” Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, told Covers. “Atlanta is more than capable here. They’ve come back to earth a little bit, but they’re already in the playoffs. This would be a perfect game for them to get hot at the right time.”
Korner’s stable of oddsmakers sent out the Falcons as suggested 2.5-point favorites and it appears that is where the early sharp money is taking the spread. Some books opened this game as low as a pick’em. That line has moved as high as -2 at some online markets.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys (Pick, 44.5)
This classic NFL grudge match features two teams scrambling for postseason spots. Dallas is back home after a nail-biting win in Cincinnati while the Steelers leave behind a shocking home loss to San Diego this past weekend.
Pittsburgh welcomed back starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed the previous three games with rib and shoulder injuries. Outside of a late push, Roethlisberger was rusty and finished the day 22 for 45 passing and committed two turnovers. The Steelers managed just three points in the first half.
“This is what can happen when a key player is out and comes back at an important time,” says Korner. “When you bring a key player back, it can sometimes be disruptive. Not to say (Roethlisberger) isn't their best option, but the timing is off and it will take a while to get that back. He hasn't practiced much since the injury.”
San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots (-6, 48)
New England opened as a field-goal favorite for Week 15 but after blowing out Houston on Monday Night Football, some online books have jumped that spread as high as a touchdown.
The win over the Texans also put some space between the Patriots and the rest of the league in the Super Bowl XLVII futures odds. New England is a +350 favorite in front of Houston, Denver, and San Francisco all at +550.
“As far as positioning goes, this isn’t a conference game. And at the end of the year, both teams could be thinking about staying healthy for the playoffs,” says Korner. “This could also be a slight letdown for the Patriots, depending on Monday’s result.”
Seattle Seahawks vs. Buffalo Bills (+4, 42.5)
The Bills cross the border for what is supposed to be a home game. However, Korner doesn’t factor in the home–field edge as much for this showdown in Toronto.
“When we talk about home-field advantage, we don’t really talk about the fans,” he says. “We’re thinking more about preparation and travel. When the game starts, the fans don’t really matter.”
Buffalo loses a home game in the December cold of Ralph Wilson Stadium and trades that for the echoing confines of the Rogers Centre, a domed environment not known as a great football venue.
The Bills don’t have much incentive heading into Week 15 while the Seahawks have won four of their last five, including a 58-0 demolition of Arizona Sunday. Korner’s stable of oddsmakers sent out Seattle -6 as the suggested spread for this game.
“We were thinking Seattle -3 while we watched the Seahawks game on Sunday,” he says. “Then they kept racking up the points. We just had to shoot (the spread) up.”