NFL Betting Cheat Sheet — Why sharps are backing Eagles in Week 5

The calendar has shifted to October and many football fans and handicappers feel they now have a good feel for each team. Their opinions and assessments reflect confidence and bettors appear to be quite comfortable. Based on this, we can now draw conclusions about certain trends after just four weeks.

Professional bettors and odds makers all rely on performance ratings and adjust their numbers accordingly. “My handicap is a lot more focused on what these teams are now,” professional weather forecaster Erin Rynning told ESPN, sharing how much he weighs over the past few seasons. “But there is a certain baseline built into my number that is based to a significant degree on last year’s numbers.”

A Sunday matchup emphasizes this concept and theoretically represents an enormous line value depending on whether you believe four weeks is a sufficient sample size.

The numbers you need to know

blank Philadelphia Eagles (-5, 49) with the Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

The Philadelphia Eagles did better than any other team in the first half, while no team did worse than the Arizona Cardinals. Philly leads the NFL in first half and possession time, while the Cardinals rank in the bottom four of those two categories. In terms of point difference, Philly leads and Arizona is the worst in the league. In each of the previous three seasons since Kyler Murray was drafted and became the starting QB, the Cardinals have been center fielders in the first half. That first month could certainly be an outlier, but there’s no denying that Philly now has a strong offense vastly superior to last year’s. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has steadily improved and is a legitimate MVP candidate. So it’s pretty illogical to include previous seasons.

Oddsmakers set the first-half point distributions once they have set the odds for the entire game. It’s essentially clockwork and they don’t set the odds in a vacuum. So if an NFL team is a 5 or 5.5 point favorite like the Eagles are, then the line is 3 points in the first half. This has been the case for all three scenarios so far this season.

I believe the first four weeks provide enough actionable data points. And I imagine that we can all formulate narratives that explain the statistics. Perhaps Philly’s offense is so unique that it will require some adjustment time, even for teams that have seemingly been preparing all week. And anyone who has seen the Cardinals feels tension or a lack of chemistry. Regardless of the reasons for these trends, I’m betting on Philly as my top game in the first half.

blankblank Detroit Lions at New England Patriots (-3, 45.5)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

It’s not often that I run out the window to bet on a third-row quarterback, but this coaching duel is far too desirable. 70-year-old Bill Belichick is still capable of magic and will likely push enough right buttons with Bailey Zappe expected to start. I like Detroit’s Dan Campbell, but he finds his way into mind-bending decisions. I expected Jared Goff to fight again with Belichick holding Goff’s Rams in the 2019 Super Bowl with no TD. Plus, the Lions are still suffering from key injuries: D’Andre Swift is out and Amon-Ra St. Brown is listed as doubtful.

Line move of the week

blankblank Tennessee Titans at Washington Commanders (PK, 43)
1:05 p.m. ET, FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland

Occasionally we see what is affectionately called reversal line movement. This occurs when an overwhelming amount of money is wagered on one side of a game but the line moves in the other direction. This is an indication that respected money alone dictates the point spread, regardless of the crowd.

We have such a situation in the nation’s capital. The Titans have been 2.5-point street favorites all week, and despite the overwhelming amount of action in Tennessee, the line is ticked off on PK. All of this resonates when you learn that Caesars Sportsbook, for example, has seen 84% of all bets on this point split between the Titans.

Sharp report

As I try to communicate each week, there are different levels of astute bettors. Sportsbooks categorize them by profiling their betting behavior thanks to technology. In fact, respected money can end up on either side of a game. But I try to sift through all the information while pestering my contacts to sort out some of the noise. And remember that your bets dictate the market, so the numbers you bet are usually not available at the time. From a consensus standpoint, the money is strong at the Texans +7, Dolphins -3, Patriots -3, Commanders +2, Browns +2.5 and Raiders +7.

Teaser delight

Teasers are a popular option for many bettors. They feel like a parlay by offering action across multiple games, and there’s even added excitement as you adjust the line in your favor. Now the payouts are far less than parlays, but moving a point spread significantly is the tradeoff.

A popular teaser Sunday will be the two-leg six-point option with the Packers and Vikings. That means you can set Green Bay at a 2-point favorite and Minnesota at 1.5 points. The basic principle is to shift the point spread by key numbers of seven, six and three points. And the juice is close to -130. I’ll also be a part of this teaser and get an early start to the action in London this morning. NFL Betting Cheat Sheet — Why sharps are backing Eagles in Week 5

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