Longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker Peter Korner sizes up this week’s NFL schedule and picks out some of the lines making him go “hmmm...” in Week 6.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (-3.5, 45.5)
This game opened Carolina -3 but enough early money has pushed bookmakers to make the heady move off the key number for now. Personally, I had this at Carolina -2.5 or -3 (EVEN) at best. The extra premium was a little surprising.
Both teams carry some swagger into this meeting with each sporting an impressive 4-1 record. This is more surprising for the Panthers, who looked worse for wear after Week 3 in their lackluster performances against San Francisco and Buffalo and a shellacking at the hands of the Saints.
Philadelphia hasn’t been playing the elite of the league the past three games with wins versus the Giants, Chargers and Cardinals. But the Eagles are building momentum while they handle the business of getting the all-important “W” week after week.
Carolina’s defense has been awful the past three weeks giving up just under 30 points per game in that span while the Eagles are scoring that much in their last trio of contests. The Panthers have scored a whopping 22 points in two home games while the Eagles have scored slightly over 25 points per game on the road.
This has the signs of a close, competitive game. There’s nothing that says the Eagles can’t win this straight up, but if you can grab them with the hook, even better. The value here is with the visitors if you can get that premium.
New England Patriots at New York Jets (+9.5, 47.5)
The Jets have made a full turnaround after the first two weeks of the season and it’s easy to point to their defensive improvement as the reason behind their last three wins in a row. New England is clearly struggling as it fights poor defense and injuries, which have highlighted the season so far.
In years past, one wouldn’t even bother to question the current line. But this isn’t any year in the recent past and despite the two team’s results the last time they played each other, seven games before that, New York has played the Patriots heads up since 2013. That covers some pretty dynamic New England teams at their best.
Right now, the Patriots are not playing well. Being on the road in a divisional game against a team on a roll, that -9.5 looks pretty steep to the naked eye. I made this game closer to -7.5 (EVEN) or -7 (-120). The Jets will have to win this on defense like their three previous games. If that’s the case, and scores are at a premium, that -9.5 looms very large and almost insurmountable for this current New England team to reach.
I’ve been on this anti-New England ship for a few weeks now and we keep cashing. The value here is with New York at this level. Unless there’s a total breakdown on behalf of the Jets, this looks like a good time to take the team that is playing better with a huge number to overcome.
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-5.5, 50)
I wasn’t surprised by the Saints coming out as 3.5-point favorites. After their past two wins, most notably with an uptick in their defensive efforts, the Saints deserved to be at least a field goal-plus in this spot. What surprised me was the almost immediate hike to -5 and -5.5 by the betting public out of the box.
Detroit is no slouch. The Lions could easily be undefeated at this point. They are undefeated on the road with victories at the Giants (well, no big there) but also at Minnesota. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is nursing an ankle injury after Week 5, and looked to be OK in practice Wednesday.
The move on the Saints was likely sharp money trying to stay ahead of any news on Stafford’s status. New Orleans has played but one game at home - a loss to a mediocre Patriots team - and has scored 20 points or less in all four games they have played this season.
The Lions have the means to keep up with any new-found offensive power the Saints may muster in their second home game of the season. They also have a pretty good defense which could keep the Saints offense to a minimum.
Winning the game straight up is going to be a challenge for New Orleans. Covering a field goal and a hook seems even more debatable. But now with some real separation on the line gives me the feeling there’s some value in the Lions in this spot.
If the current betting trend continues, wait for the slightly higher number. If the line seems to be stuck, you may want to take the points in what I believe will be a buyback closer to kickoff.
Peter Korner is a long-time Las Vegas oddsmaker and analyst, working at the Las Vegas Sports Consultants and operating his own odds service, The Sports Club. Find out more about Pete and his storied career in the sports betting industry here.