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Bettors may be overreacting to Gronkowski’s absence
By ANDREW CALEY
Don’t blink now, but we already in Week 13 of the NFL season and the playoff picture seems as muddled as ever.
So to help clear up the playoff picture, we talk to John Lester, senior lines manager at online shop BookMaker.eu, about the action coming in on four of Sunday’s biggest matchups.
New York Jets at New York Giants – Open: Pick, Move: -2.5
In a game that features both teams suiting up in their home locker room at MetLife Stadium, both the Jets and the Giants desperately need this win if they want to continue their season past Week 17.
The Jets stopped a skid in which they went 1-4 straight up and 0-4-1 against the spread, by hammering the Dolphins 38-20 last week. At 6-5 (5-5-1 ATS) for the season, the Jets need this win to keep pace with the likes of the red-hot Chiefs and Texans.
Meanwhile, the Giants failed to take control of the NFC Least last week, with a disappointing 20-14 loss at Washington. The G-Men will need to lean on Odell Beckham Jr. especially with Darrell Revis out for the Jets.
Despite no Revis, the smart money is on the Jets, but Lester expects the line to move back towards the Giants after the public weighs in.
“We moved from a pick to -2.5 early in the week so that should tell you where the smart money is going. I do expect this to move back down toward the open after the public has its say. The Giants are still New York’s team.”
Falcons at Buccaneers – Open: -1, Move: -2
Talk about two teams trending in opposite directions. After starting the season 4-0 SU and ATS, the Falcons are quickly tumbling out of the playoff picture, going just 2-5 SU and 0-7 ATS since.
Meanwhile their AFC South Division rival from Tampa Bay have fought their way to a 5-6 record after winning three of their past five behind the quick development of first overall pick Jameis Winston and their resurgent run game headed by Doug Martin.
So it is no surprise the initial money has come in on the Bucs.
“That drove the spread up to Tampa Bay -2 from the opener of -1. Not too much sharp interest from our clients here, possibly because it’s tough to ever get a solid gauge on where these teams are. I don’t expect the spread to get down to a pick,” Lester.
Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots – Open: -9.5, Move: -7.5
The Patriots undefeated season came to an end last week in Denver, but will have an excellent opportunity to get back on tack when they welcome the hapless Eagles, losers of three in a row SU and ATS, to town.
The Patriots are 6-0 SU and 3-1-2 ATS at home and more impressively, have gone 56 consecutive regular-season games without suffering back-to-back defeats, but are dealing with several injuries that could be scaring off bettors.
“We moved as high as -10 mid week and now are offering -7.5, which is two points lower than our opener,” Lester told Covers. “Bettors have reacted to the myriad New England injuries, and this may be an overreaction to the Gronkowski absence. We’ve seen about 65 percent of the money go toward New England, and I don’t think we’ll see this settle at the key number at kickoff.”
Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers – Open: -7, Move: -7.5
The Sunday night matchup features two of five AFC teams at 6-5 for the season and battling for a playoff spot.
Matt Hasselbeck will be under center once again for the Colts, while Andrew Luck continues to recover from a lacerated kidney, as the 40-year-old Hasselbeck looks to improve to 5-0 as the Colts starter this season.
The Steelers will have their starter, Ben Roethlisberger, back under center after getting a concussion scare at the end of last week’s game at Seattle.
With Big Ben’s status uncertain for much of the week there hasn’t been much movement on the line, but early on the public is hammering the Steelers.
“Currently, around 70 percent of our wagers are on the Steelers, and we’ve adjusted up a half point to -7.5. Both sides of the betting spectrum like the over with 85 percent on that side, which has forced a move from 47 to 49,” Lester said.