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Vegas Money Moves – Week 4
By Micah Roberts
Move over Seattle, Green Bay and New England. The betting public has a new favorite team joining the group that’s routinely featured the most on parlays across every sports book in the Las Vegas valley.
Meet the Arizona Cardinals who have jumped out to an impressive 3-0 start, but have endeared themselves more with the betting public by covering all three of its games by an average score of 42-16.
What’s not to like about them? They don’t just win and cover, they crush teams, and the games go OVER the total. It’s a parlay bettors’ side-to-total delight and the two-teamer at 13/5 odds (Bet $100 to win $260) is 3-0 with the Arizona-OVER combination this year.
The more bettors win on a team, the more they love them and they go for the ride as long as the roll goes. In Week 3 action, the Cardinals were the most one-sided wagered team of the week and were the major culprit of making the sports books losers on Sunday for the second time on the early season.
The question is whether or not Arizona’s roll will last.
Are they for real?
Bettors are now having to lay larger numbers with Arizona as its rating has jumped about four points since the season began. In the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s early Week 4 lines last week the Cardinals were -4 for Sunday’s home contest against the Rams. On Friday, the Cardinals were -7 (EVEN) after opening Sunday night at -6.
Is there too much of a rating adjustment on Arizona making their opponents more attractive for wise guys at the bet windows, or could the ratings still be low? One of the sharpest professional bettors in Las Vegas, Jeff Whitelaw, had a surprising take on the Cardinals and where they stack up among the rest of the teams.
“Before last week’s game, someone asked me who I thought the best teams in the NFL were and I said Green Bay, New England and then Arizona, and he was a little surprised by my answer. But you have to look at everything they’re comprised of which is a great coach, solid defense, outstanding special teams play, an offensive line that is much better than expected and then a healthy Carson Palmer.”
It’s quite eye-opening to hear someone like Whitelaw mention Arizona before Seattle, a team the Westgate currently has as a six-point home favorites over the Cardinals for their Nov. 15 meeting in updated NFL Games of the Year numbers. It’s an indication the Westgate currently has Seattle rated 2.5-points higher on a neutral field over Arizona.
“Right now, I think Arizona might be every bit as good as Seattle. The Seahawks have that pedigree and the Cardinals really haven’t played anyone yet, but they’re burying those teams that have been placed in front of them, and it’s not like Arizona just snuck up on us. They were 11-5 last season with Palmer playing in only six games (6-0).”
Whitelaw says he expects Arizona’s rating to climb even higher and there should still be value on them the next few weeks until its true rating levels off, which would then put them right up there the elite teams in the league.
In 1999, the Rams made a similar rapid rating jump early in the season as they won and covered its first five games by an average score of 38-10 behind back-up quarterback Kurt Warner. Back then, Whitelaw was able to sniff out a winner early on and not only took value in short weekly prices, but also made a few future wagers to win the Super Bowl.
“Yeah, I found them still at 100/1 odds around Week 4,” he recalled. In the end, after the Rams won the Super Bowl, it was the worst beating Vegas sports books have taken in NFL future wagers as many had St. Louis at 250/1 odds and higher through the first three weeks. The Westgate dropped Arizona’s Super Bowl odds from 14/1 last week down to 10/1 on Tuesday, which certainly isn’t as exciting or inviting as prices on those Rams (Books still use 1999 as an example of why not to get too carried away with NFL future prices….never say ‘That can’t happen’).
One area that still may present some value if Whitelaw is correct in his assessment of Arizona is the Westgate’s odds to win the NFC West where Seattle is the 5/7 favorite (Bet $140 to win $100) and Arizona is 3/2 (Bet $100 to win $150). It’s only three games into the season, and Palmer has proven to be brittle, but the Cardinals already have a two game lead over everyone in the division, including 1-2 Seattle.
Top Public Plays in Week 4
Here’s a look at the top public games of the week — as in the games featured most on parlays and if they come in like they did last week, the sports books will get buried:
Raiders (More of a bet against Bears)
Packers (Public hates 49ers just as much as they love Green Bay)
Not surprisingly, the combined ATS record among those teams through three weeks is 17-4 (81%), with Philly dragging down the percentage with its 1-2 ATS mark.
Does the ATS streak keep going for those teams, or does the rating increase catch up with them?
The books always come out ahead in the long run because of those adjustments and making the public lay inflated numbers, which usually makes the other sides attractive for wise guys. But so far the public is doing very well with its favorite teams.
Here’s a look at all the line movement from the Westgate’s early Week 4 lines posted last Wednesday and what’s posted there as of Friday.
The movement is a combination of rating adjustments (air moves) based on Week 3 results and actual betting action.
NY Jets vs Miami (at London): Opened Dolphins -1, now Jets -1.5
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: Opened Colts -7.5, now at -9 (Luck?)
Houston at Atlanta: Opened Falcons -3.5, now at -6.5
Carolina at Tampa Bay: Opened Panthers -2.5, now at -3 (-120)
NY Giants at Buffalo: Opened Bills -5.5, now down to -5
Oakland at Chicago: OFF the board last week (Cutler?); Opened Raiders -2.5, quickly up to -3
Philadelphia at Washington: Opened Eagles -2.5; -3 since Sunday night
Kansas City at Cincinnati: Opened Bengals -3 (EV), now -4
Cleveland at San Diego: Opened Chargers -6.5; bet up to -8 on Sunday, now -7.5
Green Bay at San Francisco: Opened Packers -6.5, now -8
Minnesota at Denver: Opened Broncos -5.5, now -7 (EV)
St. Louis at Arizona: Opened Cardinals -4, now -7 (EV)
Dallas at New Orleans: OFF the board last week and also this week due to Brees (?).
CG Technology books only shops in town with line posted – Saints -4, 46.5
Detroit at Seattle: OFF the board last week (Stafford?), now Seahwawks -10
** Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 11 years.