Tracking line moves during Week 1 of the NFL season is a different animal than any other week on the schedule.
Most games have had spreads available since the spring and have been influenced by a summer’s worth of stories, injuries and action.
With the 2012 NFL season finally kicking off this week, we dissect the biggest line moves of Week 1 with help of Mike Colbert, race and sportsbook director for Cantor Gaming.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (Open: Arizona -1, Currently: Seattle -3)
Arizona opened as a slight home favorite but its issues nailing down a starting QB during the preseason pushed a lot of money towards Seattle. Football bettors are banking on the Seahawks, even though they're going with rookie QB Russell Wilson under center for Week 1.
“We’ve taken a boatload of money on Seattle. It’s one of our biggest decisions,” Colbert told Covers
. “The Seahawks are going with Wilson, which I think is a good decision but it’s also a question mark. We’re not quite at -3 yet. I don’t think we’ll get there but if we do, people will start buying back on Arizona.”Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (Open: New York -6, Currently: New York -3)
A poor performance from New York in the preseason and a growing buzz around Buffalo has sliced this Week 1 spread in half. Cantor’s Las Vegas books opened with the Jets -5.5 and have been bet all the way down to a field goal. And Colbert doesn’t see it stopping there.
“The Bills are one of the sexy teams to start the year,” he says. “They have one of the best defensive lines out there. They’re really good up front. A lot of this depends on (QB Ryan) Fitzpatrick and how he plays. You’re going to see 2.5 on this one. Then you’ll get some buyback on the Jets.”Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (Open: Houston -7, Currently: Houston -11.5)
According to Colbert, this is the biggest decision in terms of one-sided action the favorite for Cantor in Week 1. They opened Houston at -6.5 back in the spring and didn’t take any serious money until the line moved to -9.5.
“It’s all Texans,” says Colbert, who currently has Houston -11. “A lot of this has to do with the Dolphins' quarterback situation, going with (rookie QB Ryan) Tannehill. Some smart guys think Miami is willing to give away a few wins just to build him up and give him time.”Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (Open: New Orleans -11, Currently: New Orleans -9)
In the wake of "Bounty Gate", football bettors have been slowly fading the Saints for their Week 1 date against the Redskins and rookie sensation Robert Griffin III. Colbert says there are more bets riding on the dog and understands why.
“I’m not really high on the Saints and I think it’ll hurt them not having (suspended head coach Sean) Payton on the sidelines,” he says. “We’ll know right away what kind of team the Saints are going to be this year. I think 9.5 or 10 points is too many.”Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (Open: Denver -3, Currently: Pick)
Cantor’s books have gone up and down with this Week 1 spread. They opened Denver -1 and went to Pittsburgh -1 then to Denver -2.5 before settling at Denver -1 again. Some online books are dealing this Sunday Night Football showdown as a pick’em.
“This is a revenge game for the Steelers but they're without James Harrison and Ryan Clark has the sickle cell issue, Mendenhall is hurt. I kind of like Denver,” says Colbert. “This game has been bet pretty even so far but I could see it moving slightly to Denver -2.5.”