LAS VEGAS – You don’t need me to tell you that the Patriots looked like the class of the league in their 42-14 dismantling of the Texans on Monday night.
We all saw how Tom Brady & Co. picked apart the Houston defense and the defense also stepped up to shut down the Texans’ offense, only allowing one touchdown until the closing minute (which “over” bettors were happy for as it pushed the game over the total of 51 as the Patriots have gone over in 10 of their last 11 games).
Now, none of this is to suggest that you should run out and bet futures on the Patriots. If you were thinking of that, the time to do it was BEFORE their virtuoso performance in front of a national audience.
Before the game, the Patriots were a lukewarm 4-1 favorite at the LVH SuperBook with the Texans, 49ers and Broncos all at 9-2. After Monday night’s game, the Patriots were lowered all the way to odds of 9-4 (expressed as +225 as a money line) with the 49ers still at 9-2 but the Texans and Broncos both raised to 6-1.
In the odds to win each conference, the 49ers remained 2-1 to win the NFC with the Packers at 11-4, the Falcons at 7-2 and the Giants at 9-2.
In the AFC, the Patriots were already a slight 9-5 favorite to win the conference over the Texans at 2-1 entering Monday night despite having three losses to the Texans’ one, but after blowing them out and moving within a game of stealing home-field advantage (and with the Texans still having to play the Colts twice), the Patriots are now a solid 6-5 fave to win the AFC with the Texans and Broncos now at 5-2.
In fact, if you subscribe to the “buy low/sell high” theory, the teams to be looking to bet now would be the Texans or even the Broncos if you feel they can get the job done especially if they can get home playoff games against the Patriots (note: the Pats have the tiebreaker on each, but they also have to beat the 49ers this week to keep the upper hand over the Broncos).
The Patriots’ win also bumped the AFC to a 3-point favorite over the NFC in the LVH SuperBook’s generic Super Bowl line. It wasn’t too long ago that the NFC was a 3-point favorite when the 49ers, Giants and Packers looked as strong as anything the AFC had to offer in mid-to-late October. I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing the AFC +3 for the three weeks I was actually there and saw it on the board.
Favorites went 9-6-1 against the spread this past week. They were actually below .500 until sweeping the three Sunday afternoon games as well as the Sunday night and Monday night games. For the year, underdogs are still hitting 55% at 110-90-7 ATS. The Ugly Puppy Society (UPS) double-digit underdogs went 0-3 ATS to fall to 11-10 overall (break-even with the vig). Home dogs were 2-2 ATS, with the Vikings and Panthers pulling outright upsets, and are 37-34-2 overall. Road dogs have actually been a better bet this season at 73-56-5 ATS (56.6%).
As for this week, there are six home dogs: Eagles +3.5 vs. Bengals on Thursday night, Bears +3 vs. Packers, Browns vs. Redskins (off the board as of Tuesday morning), Ravens +2.5 vs. Broncos, Cardinals +6 vs. Lions and Cowboys +1.5 vs. Steelers (note: Bills +5 vs. Seahawks is technically a neutral site in Toronto), though Falcons-Giants and Titans-Jets have the home teams favored by around 1 point and could flip.
And don’t forget that the bowl season starts this Saturday with Arizona favored by 9.5 over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M., and Utah St. a 10-point chalk over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Both opened as 7.5-point favorites at the Wynn Las Vegas and have seen the favorites getting support.
We’ll take a closer look at more of the early line moves in the bowls in next week’s “Vegas Beat.”
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.