Like dating a fat girl or singing along to Taylor Swift, setting the Jacksonville Jaguars as betting favorites is just something you don’t want to get caught doing.
Sportsbooks are avoiding that pitfall by tabbing the red-hot Jaguars as 2.5-point home underdogs Thursday, hosting the Houston Texans – perhaps the only NFL team worse than Jacksonville at this point.
However, one Las Vegas oddsmaker isn’t afraid to admit that the Jaguars should probably be home favorites over Houston which, despite a valiant effort versus New England Sunday, hasn’t won a game since Week 2.
“I had Jacksonville as a favorite,” admits Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service, The Sports Club. “We actually did send this game out as a pick’em, but Jacksonville has won three of their last four. Houston may have played well against New England but they’re not winning. Why would you want to bet on them? Jacksonville has nothing to lose. They’re playing very ‘loosey goosey’ right now.”
The Thursday Night Football spread wasn’t the only line Korner and his team of oddsmakers were torn on in Week 14. The Sports Club’s stable of linemakers also duked it out over the opening line for Oakland at New York and the Monday Night Football spread for Dallas at Chicago.
The Raiders opened as big as 2.5-point road underdogs in New York Sunday afternoon.
“I was the only one who favored Oakland,” says Korner, whose service sent out a suggested opening line of a pick’em. “For three games the Jets have had zero offense and now they’re pulling out quarterbacks and the fans are booing. Oakland is playing well. They aren’t getting blown out and regardless of whether (Matt) McGloin or (Terrellle) Pryor is playing, they’re the better team. I don’t see any momentum that would have money slammed down on the Jets.”
As for the Monday nighter, Korner says it may not matter – at least from a linemaking standpoint – if Bears starting QB Jay Cutler returns from an ankle injury or if backup Josh McCown continues to take snaps against Dallas in Week 14. The Sports Club settled on a suggested spread of Cowboys -2.5 and most books are waiting to hear more on Cutler’s status.
“I don’t think there’s much of a difference. Talent wise there is between Cutler and McCown, but I don’t think (Cutler being active) will cause a huge rush to the windows,” says Korner. “We like the way Dallas is playing right now, going 5-2 in their last seven. They’re playing with a lot of momentum. Cutler in or not, Dallas is the better team and we’d much rather be rooting for them Monday night.”
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins (+3, 46)
The shine is off the Chiefs, who have dropped three in a row and find themselves as mere field-goal favorites visiting the lowly Redskins in Week 14.
“They’ve lost their luster,” Korner says of the Chiefs’ skid. “They’re back to where they’re supposed to be. This isn’t an all-time great team, especially with Alex Smith at quarterback. He has a track record of trailing off and Kansas City is starting to trail off. But Kansas City is the stronger team. Washington has looked pitiful and (Robert) Griffin is playing hurt and he’s… well let’s just say this ain’t last year.”
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5, 54.5)
Korner says this line is almost a mirror image of the Cardinals-Eagles line from this past Sunday. Arizona may have had the better defense, but Detroit has the better offense this time around, making the process very similar for the oddsmakers.
“It’s basically the same game,” he says. “It should be a close game and the line is pretty much home field. Of course, the total is much higher.”
“We opened 52 and thought about going higher, but now we’re getting into the weather and it looks like it will be cold with possible storms hitting that part of the country," notes Korner.
The Sports Club sent out a suggested opening total of 52 points,
however, books opened as large as 54.5 points. The forecast for
Philadelphia is calling for temperatures in the mid 30s and a chance of