If the New Orleans Saints are playing, sportsbooks are rooting for the under and the underdog. Oddsmakers installed the NFC South champs as double-digit favorites against a 10-win team with a historically high total, and still the books will be pulling for the Detroit Lions and a lower-scoring game.
“We’ve been burned on the Saints' totals all season,” Bob Scucci, director of race and sports at Coast Casinos, told Covers.com
The Saints finished the season on an eight-game ATS winning streak, with the over paying in their last three contests.
“Even in games the under came through, statistically, it seemed like it should have gone the other way.” Scucci said. “They’d get 500 offensive yards but then run out the clock late, so even in those games we felt like the [total] might have been too low.”
Scucci opened the over/under line in the Saints/Lions game at 59.5 but didn’t hesitate to bump it to 60 for a little bit to try to get some under money. Coast Casinos and most other Vegas sportsbooks were using 59 Thursday morning, but that doesn’t mean the number won’t move up again if bettors keep biting on the over.
Here’s the scoop on the pointspread movement for all of this weekend’s NFL playoff games:
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-10 to -10.5)
The Lions lost some support from the public after losing outright as 3.5-point faves and allowing Packers, with backup QB Matt Flynn under center, to score 45 points.
Detroit lost by two touchdowns at New Orleans a few weeks back but the game was closer than the final score indicates.
“You look at time of possession, it was in the Lions’ favor,” John Avello, executive director of race and sports at the Wynn Las Vegas, told Covers.com
. “Detroit didn’t have Suh and they had some penalties. It could have been closer, really.”
Avello said he opened the line at Saints -10 and the sharp bettors laid the points. He moved it up to 10.5 and said he thinks that’s where he’ll probably stay until kickoff.
There have been some 11’s out there, but 10.5 seems to be the most commonly used number as of Thursday afternoon.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (-7.5 to -8.5)
This line went as high as Denver +9 but 8.5 seems to be the number of choice in most Vegas shops. Some offshore books that canter to public bettors are still offering Steelers -9.
“The sharps and the public are on the Steelers so far, from what I can tell,” Scucci said.
The professional players grabbed 7.5 when the line first opened and some bought back when the spread grew to 9.
Scucci and Avello both see Pittsburgh as a far superior team than Denver, but it’s difficult to inflate the spread much with the game expected to be such a low-scoring affair.
“Denver’s projected to score somewhere between 3-to-10 points,” Avello said.
The total opened at 35 but has been bet down to 34 or 34.5.Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-3 +100, -3 -125)
Bookmakers never like to move off a key number like a field goal spread, but we could see this line at Texans -3.5 or 4 by Saturday. The spread opened with the plus juice for the home favorite and the game has drawn mostly Texans money.
Avello admitted he didn’t want to move off this number but conceded he couldn’t bump the juice up much higher either. Scucci said he sees this game closing at 3.5.Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-3)
Nothing really to report on this spread. New York as a 3-point home favorite is generating good two-way action and that’s why bettors haven’t seen any type of movement on the line. The total a dropped a point to half point at some shops and 47.5 or 48 seem like the most commonly used over/under line for this matchup.