Tuesday November 13
LAS VEGAS – We have new future-book favorites in both NCAA and NFL football.
The most surprising is the fact that Alabama got knocked off of its No. 1 perch in a 29-24 loss to Texas A&M last Saturday as a 13.5-point home favorite. That came one week after the Tide cleared what was assumed to be its biggest hurdle in a road win at LSU and had been lowered to an odds-on favorite of 4-5 at the LVH Hotel-Casino (formerly Hilton).
Texas A&M, playing its first season in the SEC, was a consensus +425 underdog to beat Alabama straight-up, which doesn’t seem so shocking when you look at it that way, though that’s more an indication of how much betting value can get sucked out of big underdogs. Still, the market ultimately sets the price and you know there were a lot of people who probably took Alabama around -600 or -700 in parlays and thought they had the proverbial “free bingo square.”
Despite the fact that Kansas St. was expected to move to the top spot in the BCS Poll that determines the participants in the title game that is being held this season on Jan. 7, 2013, at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Oregon was made the 6-5 favorite at the LVH with Kansas St. at 7-5.
However, even though a lot of people (and I’m basing this on the unscientific poll of looking at people’s replies on Twitter) assumed Alabama was out of the national title picture, they didn’t fall too far as they were lowered to the co-third choice at 6-1 along with undefeated Notre Dame. It’s still unlikely for Alabama to rise enough in the rankings to get back in the title game over one of the unbeaten, but if two of the three lose they’re back on the inside track.
The change in the NFL futures was far less shocking over the weekend.
The 49ers were the 4-1 Super Bowl favorite at the LVH entering Week 10 of the NFL season, but then they not only failed to cover as a 13.5-point home favorite (how’s that for coincidence?) over the Rams but also played to a 24-24 tie.
The Texans, after grinding out a 13-6 win at Chicago on Sunday night, are back on top of the LVH futures at 4-1. The Patriots are next at 9-2, followed by the Packers, Broncos and 49ers all at 6-1, the Falcons (who suffered their first defeat of the season to the Saints) at 7-1, and the Bears at 10-1.
But unlike Alabama, which held the top spot in the futures for nearly two months since USC lost to Stanford back on Sept. 15, there seems to be a new Super Bowl favorite every week. The Texans were the favorite before losing to the Packers in Week 6 and the Patriots and 49ers have also held the top spot with the Packers always lurking close behind despite their slow start.
The Broncos are the team that has seen its chances improve the most as bettors get more and more confident that Peyton Manning is fully back. The Falcons have been unable to crack the top group despite their 8-0 start, though they also didn’t see their odds raise any after their loss to the Saints.
As for the week-to-week betting in the NFL, we advised against jumping on the favorites bandwagon after their 10-4 spread record in Week 9 that saw the public make up for a lot of losses over the first two months of the season. In Week 10, the underdogs bounced back – not in a huge way – as they went 8-6 ATS, but it was the “Ugly Puppy Society” teams that did the most damage as all three double-digit underdogs (Bills +13.5 vs. the Patriots, Rams +13.5 vs. the 49ers and Chiefs +13 vs. the Steelers on Monday night) covered while home underdogs went 3-2 against the spread. For the year, all underdogs are 82-60-3 ATS (57.8% after discarding pushes) with double-digit dogs now back over .500 at 8-6 ATS (57.1%) and home dogs at 26-23 (53.1%).
Let’s look at Week 11 in the NFL – especially since the NCAA slate doesn’t have many marquee matchups with Kansas St. having the biggest test as an 11.5-point favorite at Baylor while Oregon is -20.5 vs. Stanford, Notre Dame is -24 vs. Wake Forest and Alabama is playing the Western Carolina Catamounts.
We again have some big favorites with the Texans -16 vs. the Jaguars and the Falcons -10 vs. the Cardinals. But one game that falls short of double digits is the Patriots -9.5 against the Colts. Over the summer, when the Cantor Gaming books here in Vegas put out lines on all the regular-season games through Week 16, the line on this game was Patriots -14, but the Colts have earned the respect of bookmakers and bettors alike.
There were a couple of games still off the board as of this writing early Tuesday morning due mainly to quarterback injuries: Eagles-Redskins (Michael Vick), Ravens-Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger) and Bears-49ers (Jay Cutler & Alex Smith). However all of those are expected to still have the home teams favored in the 3- to 4-point range.
In other action, the Lions are a 3.5-point home dog against the Packers, the Panthers are a slight 1.5-point home dog vs. the surging Buccaneers, the Chiefs are +3.5 at home against the Bengals and the Raiders are +4.5 at home against the Saints.
It’ll be interesting to see what surprises lurk in Week 11. We’re certainly not calling for an outright upset by the Jaguars over the Texans (and again it seems low that the money line on the Jags is just 10-1), but even a non-cover by the Texans could knock them from the top spot in the Super Bowl futures.
Regardless, it should be fun to watch. Good luck this weekend (and every weekend).
Dave Tuley is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Las Vegas race & sports beat since 1998, first for the GamingToday newspaper in Vegas and has written for Daily Racing Form since 2000. Tuley started his own website, ViewFromVegas.com, in 2007 and has written for other websites, including ESPN.com. In 2006, he won "Best News Story" by the Professional Football Writers of America, the only time a gambling story has won a PFWA award. Tuley, 45, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is married with children in Vegas. His roots can be seen in the names of his three children: daughters Jordyn and Peyton (named for Walter Payton, not Peyton Manning) and son Maddux. Dave can be followed on Twitter @ViewFromVegas