Every week, Sports Handle will look at NFL lines, specifically “lookahead lines,” to see how they’re moving and why. Lookahead lines are those posted one week prior to a game or even before the season has begun, as CG Technology does.
By comparing changes between current lines and the numbers hung days earlier, we can get a sense of where recency bias or overreactions are seeping in.
We’ll highlight the significant shifts, look for value and suggest when it’s a good idea to get behind or stay away from certain teams. Here’s a look at the Week NFL 4 line moves and what it means to bettors. (Note: odds indicated based on current numbers at several Las Vegas sportsbooks.)
NFL Week 4 Lookahead and Current Lines Moves Show Value on Minnesota And Oakland, With Caution Signs Elsewhere
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-1)
One of the surprises early in the 2018 season is the 0-3 Texans. The Texans’ win total before the season was 8.5 with the OVER -150. Houston will need to go 9-4 the rest of the way to cash the over after stumbling out of the gate.
CG Technology made the Texans a three-point favorite on the road in May, while the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had them at -1.5 in the early lines last week. Then after losing outright as a six-point favorite at home to the Giants last week, the game went down to a pick ’em. The Colts are 1-2 but have been competitive in every game. Indianapolis had a chance to beat the Eagles 20-16 on the road Sunday but came up just short.
This is one of those games where it’s perception versus reality. But the reality is that Houston is not very good and fell short last week in what was considered a “must win” game, given that only five out of 173 teams (2.8 percent) to start 0-3 since 1980 have dug out and made the playoffs. Here the line still is showing the Texans some respect, indicating that on neutral turf, they’re two points better that Indy.
Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5)
The line in this game has moved to the Rams with Los Angeles looking every bit like the Super Bowl favorite through the first three games. In May when CG Technology released lines for every NFL game, the Rams were -3. Last week at the SuperBook, Los Angeles was a 5-point favorite. However, after the Rams disposed of the Chargers 35-23 on Sunday and the Vikings were shocked at home by the Bills 27-6 as a 17-point favorite, Los Angeles went out to -7 at some books and now has settled at -6.5.
The perception of these two teams has changed through three games. Back in August, both the Rams and Vikings had odds of 10/1 to win the Super Bowl. The Vikings are now 16/1, while the Rams are the clear favorite at 2/1.
There looks to be some value in the Vikings this week. Minnesota never showed up against Buffalo but coming off an embarrassing loss and facing the Rams in primetime, 6.5 or ideally points if you can find it looks like a lot to give a talented Minnesota team. Expect a much better performance out of the Vikings this week.
Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers (-10)
It’s amazing how much one week can impact the lines to a game. CG Technology made the Packers a 9.5-point favorite back in May. That’s a half-point off of what the line is now at the SuperBook. However, last week the SuperBook had the Packers as a 14.5-point favorite. The Bills were coming off two blowout losses and turning to rookie quarterback Josh Allen, while the Packers tied the Vikings at home. A week later, the spread dropped 4.5 points after Green Bay lost in Washington by two touchdowns (no thanks to costly drops and penalties) and Buffalo pulled the biggest NFL upset in 23 years.
Bettors are now buying the Bills with the points as a lot of money coming so far has come in for the Bills. With such a significant shift from 14.5 to 10, it might seem like the time to buy Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers appears to be at about 70 percent as he battles through a knee and now a hamstring injury. Ten points is still a big number and Rodgers is worth a lot of points himself, but if you have to take a side, everything says back the Pack to rebound at home.
Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders (-2.5)
The line that has changed the most since CG Technology released its odds is in the Browns/Raiders game. Back in May, the Raiders were a touchdown favorite at home. Now the Raiders are favored less than a field goal coming in at 0-3 and the Browns 1-1-1.
Cleveland won its first game since December 2016 last week and will officially hand the keys to rookie Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Both teams have been involved in close games this year. The Browns have played to a tie and in two other games decided by four points or fewer, while the Raiders haven’t trailed in any game until the fourth quarter, yet remain winless.
This could be a good spot to jump on the Raiders in a desperation situation. The line seems a little off because of Mayfield’s heroics Thursday night. Expect the sharp money to be on the Raiders Sunday with the Browns win on bettors’ minds.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (+4.5)
No team has changed how betters view it since the summer more than the Chiefs. Kansas City was 60/1 to win the Super Bowl in August and have now dropped to 7/1 at the SuperBook. Kansas City is the second betting favorite to win the Super Bowl behind only the Rams and a slight favorite to win the AFC ahead of the Patriots.
As you might expect, the lines on Chiefs games have changed a lot since the summer. In May, CG Technology made the Broncos -1 at home. Last week the SuperBook had Kansas City as a three-point road favorite. Then after the Broncos lost in Baltimore 27-14 and the Chiefs’ offensive machine continued to roll over the 49ers, Kansas City has moved to -4.5.
The Chiefs have averaged 39 points through three games with quarterback Patrick Mahomes throwing 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. Bettors are banking on more of the same from Kansas City’s offense Monday night with lopsided action so far on KC.
Still it’s hard to go against the Chiefs right now and Kansas City is 4-0 ATS in its last four trips to Denver. The Broncos also haven’t been as formidable at home recently, going 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games at Mile High.
Thomas Casale (@ThePigskinGuy) has been following the sports betting industry for 25 years. He’s contributed to The Linemakers and is currently an editor at BetChicago. Thomas has also provided fantasy sports analysis for multiple websites and print publications, while also covering the NFL, college football, college basketball and MMA for different media outlets.
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