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Sharp money and public money on both sides in Steelers-Seahawks matchup
By Andrew Avery
It’s Week 12 in the NFL and that means that the playoff picture is starting to clear up ever so slightly.
With that in mind, we talk to John Lester, senior lines manager at online shop Book Maker, about the action coming in on four of Sunday’s biggest matchups.
St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals – Open: -9, Move: -8.5, Move: -10, Move: -9
This game features a pair of teams that have sputtered a bit of late as the Rams have lost three straight and the Bengals have dropped back-to-back games.
The Bengals did show some fight versus the Arizona Cardinals last week, but they’ll be hungry for a win to keep the Steelers quest for the AFC North crown at a distance.
The Rams will be playing with teammate Stedman Bailey in their thoughts after the suspended wide receiver was shot twice in the head earlier in the week. Bailey underwent a surgical procedure and reports state the doctors are optimistic.
“We were pretty aggressive with Cincy’s side considering the quarterback situation in St. Louis so we opened Bengals -9,” Lester. “The Bengals have an offensive line and system that can limit the Rams’ fantastic pass rushers. The action has bounced the line around quite a bit, moving to as high as -10 and as low as -8. It should be a good game for us because the handle is almost split down the middle.”
Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons – Open: -2.5, Move: Pick, Move: -1.5
All good things must come to an end and the Vikings’ incredible streak of ATS wins came to a screeching halt versus the Packers on week ago. The Vikes had covered the spread in eight straight games (7-1 SU) before losing 30-13 as 1-point home faves against the Pack.
The Falcons have been on a different kind of streak at the sportsbook having lost six-straight games ATS. This after going 4-0 SU and ATS in the opening four games of the season.
“I really expected to see more sharp money early on the Vikings but it did eventually come midweek, driving the spread down to a pick ‘em. We’ve seen around 65 percent of the wagers on Minnesota and 75 percent of the money is on the visitors too. Currently offering Falcons -1 but I could see this closing at a PK or a home dog.”
Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – Open: -4, Move: -5, Move: -3.5
The Seahawks own a pair of impressive stats to note heading into this contest. First, the Seahawks, who are 5-5, have not beaten an opponent with a winning record. Secondly, despite that 5-5 mark, the Seahawks have lead in the fourth quarter in each game this season. Certainly a bizarre season for the NFC champs.
As mentioned previously, the Steelers are within striking distance of the AFC North-leading Bengals and can keep the pressure on with a win at CenturyLink Field. They’ve done a really nice job in games versus the NFC West already this season, going 3-0 SU and ATS.
“We’ve seen smart money on both sides here as we moved Seattle from -4 to -5 very early and then seen a steady decrease with Pittsburgh action since. We’re currently offering Seahawks -3.5,” Lester says. “The public is on both sides as well. We’re seeing about 70 percent of the wagers on the Steelers. The total has seen a two-point bump from 44 to 46.”
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – Open: +3.5, Move: +2.5
Sadly, we don’t get the Manning vs. Brady showdown for the Sunday nighter, but this is shaping up to be a very intriguing matchup regardless.
The Pats have been demolished by injuries this season with the wide receiver position being hurt the most. Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson were hurt last week and join Julian Edelman on the sidelines for this one. That means Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Lafell really need to step up in the receiving department.
With Manning out, Brock Osweiler looked good in his first NFL start as he lead the Broncos to a 17-15 victory over the Chicago Bears, putting an end to a two-game losing streak in the process.
The Bronco’s defense has been one of the best in the league all season long and leads the league with 34 sacks and gives up the fewest total yards at 284.3.
“We’ve seen a serious divide here among our clients as the public is unsurprisingly on the Pats while the wiseguys are looking toward Denver,” Lester states. “The squares just don’t believe that the Broncos are better without Peyton Manning while the smart players know they’re just as good or better. We’re still offering New England -3 and I think the line settles right on the key number.”