Four weeks into the NFL season and football bettors are left with just one unbeaten team - the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs.
Yes, it’s a strange, strange world. But if it’s any consolation, oddsmarkers are having just as difficult a time trying to figure out what’s going on as you are.
“Any given Sunday is back in the NFL,” says Jay Kornegay, Las Vegas Hilton sportsbook director.
While the Chiefs are the only unbeaten team left in the league after their Week 3 bye, Kornegay says that there is no one team that is distancing itself from the rest of the league at this point. Instead, it’s more like five good teams interchanging spots on the oddsmakers’ power rankings on a weekly basis.
Chuck Esposito, casino operations manager at the Tropicana Las Vegas, says that his numbers have underdogs cashing in at a 37-21-3 clip to start the season, proving that parity is alive and kicking in the NFL.
“From a bookmakers view you really have to do your homework and put up a number that you feel is the equalizer and will draw two-way interest and then let the betting public decide if that number is too high or low,” Esposito says.
It seems as though the days of the dominant runs, like those of the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, are a thing of the past.
“We really do see a closing of the gap from top to bottom in the NFL this season, and it shows just how difficult it is to stay at a high level - the way that the draft is structured, a series of big seasons makes it difficult to replenish the talent stock,” says Covers Expert Dave Malinsky, who also points to the Pats and Colts as two teams past their peak.
After seeing a few fat pointspreads over the first few weeks of the season, you can see what the industry’s elite are on about with Week 5’s lines. Here is a breakdown of some early lines to keep an eye on this week. Biggest spread of the week:
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (-9, 44)
So we have the 2-2 Indianapolis Colts now set as 9-point favorites against the league’s only unbeaten team, Kansas City. This line opened up at -7.5, but was quickly bet up to -9.
“When was the last time a .500 team was the biggest favorite of the week when playing an undefeated opponent?” asks Malinsky. “It shows us that the public is not ready to accept the Chiefs yet, and there are still issues about their poise level in playing this class of opponent on the road.”Smallest spread of the week:
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills (pick ‘em, 41)
Don’t expect this line to stick around very long. When asked about the best and worst teams in the league, Malinsky, Esposito and Kornegay all tabbed the Buffalo Bills as the NFL’s cellar dweller.
Malinsky pointed out that this is a perfect matchup for the books to just send out a pick ‘em and then leave it to public betting to move the line. Esposito figured this line will close with the Jaguars set as around 1.5 or 2-point favorites.Highest total of the week:
New York Giants at Houston Texans (-3, 47.5)
You have to wonder about this one after the Giants limited the Chicago Bears to three points while nearly killing their top two quarterbacks in Week 4. Houston has played over in three of its first four while piling up 415.5 yards per game, so that’s where it is coming from.
It’s hard to see that number going up much more, even if Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson is able to go after missing last week’s win over Oakland with a sprained ankle. He’s currently listed as probable for Week 5.Lowest total of the week:
Minnesota Vikings at New York Jets (-4, 37.5)
No secret here as a couple of good defenses and strong running games meet up in New York. The Vikings will be coming off their bye so there’s reason to think they’ll have some tricks up their sleeve, or at the very least, a healthier Brett Favre taking the snaps. Trickiest line of the week:
Philadelphia Eagles at San Franciso 49ers (-3.5, no total posted)
Esposito says the Eagles would be favored in this one if Mike Vick was playing, but for right now at least, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Monday’s MRI revealed that Vick has a rib cartilage injury and possibly two cracked ribs.
“You also have a 49ers team that is arguably the biggest disappointment early on this season. This is their second primetime home game in the last three weeks and they come off a heartbreaking loss yesterday in Atlanta,” says Esposito. “The game did open up the 49ers -3 and was quickly bet up to -3.5.”Other available Week 5 opening lines:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals (-6.5, 38)
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins (2.5, 44)
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions (-3, 43)
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-7, 38.5)
Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns (3, 41)
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (7, 45.5)
Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5, 42)
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (6, 44.5)