Next time someone tells you trap lines don’t exist in pro football betting, tell that jackass you know better.
I used to be that loudmouth know-it-all. The only association I made with entrapment was Catherine Zeta-Jones in tights.
I would tell anyone who listened that there was no such thing as a fishy line or a spread where the books were begging you to bet one side. Bookmakers, in my mind, just wanted two-way action and were happy to live off the juice.
Trap lines to me were as real as Big Foot or a British person with good teeth.
But my world was rocked earlier this fall when oddsmaker Bob Scucci told listeners on Chad Millman’s podcast
that he does set lines sometimes knowing he’s going to get more money on one side than the other.
As with any UFO sighting, you’ve got to go straight to the source, so I called Scucci to give him a chance to back pedal on all this trap line foolishness.
“We’ve got opinions on games and we’ll take a stand on some of them,” the Coast Casinos director of race and sports told me. “That’s how we make our money.”
I thought Scucci was pulling a Palin and going maverick, but other Vegas oddsmakers told me the same thing.
“Ninety percent of the time it’s not two-way action,” Hilton Las Vegas sportsbook manager Jay Kornegay said with little prying on my part. “We’ve got to make decisions on those games.”
By decisions, Kornegay means whether to move the line or stay put. He has to decide whether he feels like his book is on the right side of an unbalanced handle. In other words, does he think his book will win the game or will the bettors take him to the cleaners?
“Anytime you’ve got a good team on the road as a short favorite,” Scucci said. “We know the public will see it as an opportunity to get the better teams at a cheaper price and we see the home side as live dogs.”
There are two, clear cases of entrapment on this week’s NFL betting board: Packers (-5.5) at San Diego and Niners (-4) at Washington. It’s clear the bookies are welcoming action on San Fran and Green Bay.
“Looks like we’ll be rooting for San Diego on Sunday,” Bert Osborne, sportsbook boss at South Point said.
I asked him if he knew he’d be rooting for the Chargers as soon as he opened Packers -5.5 and all he said was, “Yup”.
Easy there Admiral Ackbar. Just because oddsmakers like Osborne, Kornegay and Scucci all like the home underdogs in these two cases doesn’t mean we should back away from our first lean.
I already bet the chalk in both of those matchups and I’d be lying if I said this was an easy week to pick three underdog plays. Let’s proceed and try to avoid any more ambushes.
New York Giants (+9) at New England Patriots
The Pats have all kinds of motivation coming off a loss and playing against the Giants for the first time since Super Bowl XLII. Big Blue could be missing some big names on both sides of the line (WR Hakeem Nicks, RB Ahmad Bradshaw and DE Jason Pierre-Paul), but Coughlin’s crew loves playing on the road.
The G-Men are 29-13 ATS in their last 42 road games and 13-6 ATS in their last nine games as road underdogs.
Bill Belichick is brilliant but brains can’t fix the Pats' leaky secondary.Pick:
Giants +9Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Tennessee Titans
Maybe that was a trap season win total Vegas sportsbooks posted on the Bengals. Remember how bettors were mocking bookmakers for opening Cincinnati’s win total at 7.5 and 8 at some shops? Well it looks like the bad guys will get the last laugh on that one.
The Bengals are 6-1 against the spread and only two wins away from pushing on that 8-win total. Some people think this team is overrated and has just capitalized on a soft schedule (Cincy still hasn’t played Baltimore or Pittsburgh).
But there’s no denying Cincy’s defense is legit and Tennessee has just 23 offensive plays of 20 yards or more gained. Pick:
Bengals +3St. Louis Rams (+2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
We can call this one the degenerate special because only bettors will be watching this game. I like the Rams in this one because I don’t think anyone on Arizona’s offensive line can block Rams DE Chris Long.Pick:
Rams +2.5Last week: 2-1
Season record: 14-10-1--
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