NFL teams have not completed minicamps or OTAs, and the season is still almost four months away, but that didn’t stop Cantor Gaming from posting spreads Wednesday on Weeks 2 to 16 of the regular-season schedule, 240 games in all.
This is by far the earliest Cantor has ever done this.
Lines for Week 1, including the Sept. 5 Cowboys-Giants primetime opener, came out a few weeks ago. But now bettors who have strong feelings about one team or another can get action down in a big way, beyond placing futures bets on division and conference winners and the Super Bowl.
Week 17 lines are still unavailable because of the uncertainty surrounding which starters will actually suit up for the final week of the regular season.
Cantor operates sportsbooks at the M Resort, Hard Rock, Tropicana, Cosmopolitan, Venetian, Palazzo, and the Palms in Las Vegas. Bettors can place $2,000 limit wagers on as many games as they like.
As of Wednesday afternoon, sharps had placed about 100 limit bets at $2,000 apiece. The limit rises to $5,000 closer to the season.
Cantor took lots of bets against Tampa Bay, Philly, K.C. and Indy – reflecting a belief that sportsbook director Mike Colbert and his oddsmakers overvalued them.
“Two separate people bet against Tampa in 14 of 16 games, which is fine, it tells me they have an opinion,” said Colbert, who moved most of those games half a point.
“If you look at our numbers, we really like the Eagles, and we think K.C. is more improved than the market does. Believe it or not, we like the Colts. Not to win the division or anything, but the market will tell you they’ll win 3.5 or four games and we think more like five to six. Even though they’re one of the bottom five, we still think they’re better than people think.”
Two of the highest-profile teams -- the Bountygate-tainted Saints and the Peyton Manning-led Broncos -- drew the most action. It came in on both sides.
Only one game, New Orleans’ Week 2 visit to Carolina, was bet twice early. First a bettor laid the 2.5 with the Saints, then another laid the points at -120, so Colbert moved to 3.
Colbert expects sharp action exclusively until weekend tourists arrive.
“Nobody else does this [so early], which is why we really like it,” he said of matching wits with the sharps. “If other people put up these lines, people could compare numbers. Anyone coming in actually has a little gamble in ‘em. It’s your power rating versus ours, how strong you make a team versus how strong we do. And we’re willing to take that bet.”
The QB situations in Tennessee and Cleveland did not enter the pointspread discussions. Colbert and his oddsmakers don’t see a big difference whether Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker leads the Titans, or whether Brandon Weeden or Colt McCoy starts for the Browns.
The sharps who got down Wednesday looked primarily to bet around key numbers such as 2.5, 3.5, 6.5 and 7.5.
“As we go forward, the more recreational players start to play them,” Colbert said. “In past years people have come in on the weekends from Cincinnati and Tampa and bet their home team in every game.”
Asked if he was worried about sharps gaining large middles by the time kickoff arrives, Colbert replied:
“I don’t think there’s a risk there at all. There are going to be plenty of games where people get good numbers. A game could open today at 3 and when game day comes the number might be 7.5 or 10. But they could be on the right side or the wrong side.
“That’s why they call it gambling. There’s danger on both sides of the counter – take your shot.”
Spreads for Weeks 1-16 will stay up until the season opens, Colbert said, with oddsmakers reacting to holdouts, injuries and other developments.
“We have all the data so the easy part is getting these numbers up,” Colbert said. “The hard part is someone is going to lose their QB, things are going to happen and we have to keep up [and adjust].”
Throughout the season, Cantor offers spreads on the current slate of games and the week ahead.
Cantor plans to release season win totals later this month.
Here's a look at some of the most noteworthy matchups:
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5)
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5)
Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (Pick)
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (1.5)
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-4)
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans (1.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (1.5)
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos (-2.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints (-2.5)
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-11.5)
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (3)
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-3.5)
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
Green Bay Packers at New York Giants (3)
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans (3)
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns (1)
San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots (-6.5)
San Diego Chargers at New York Jets (-2.5)
And here's the complete list of odds for all you hardcore degenerates:
WEEK 1 WEEK 2 WEEK 3 WEEK 4 WEEK 5 WEEK 6 WEEK 7
WEEK 8 WEEK 9 WEEK 10 WEEK 11 WEEK 12 WEEK 13
WEEK 14 WEEK 15 WEEK 16