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 a week or 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 8 line moves and what it means to bettors. (Note: odds indicated based on current numbers at several Las Vegas sportsbooks.)
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Jacksonville Jaguars +3 vs. Philadelphia Eagles (London)
This line had remained steady up until this week when the perception of the Jaguars changed. CG Technology made the line a pick ’em back in May when they released numbers for every NFL game. Last week, the line remained there when the SuperBook released its early lines.
However, after the Jaguars got blown out for the third game in a row at home against the Texans, the number opened at Eagles -3 and that’s where it stayed as of Wednesday. The Eagles blew a 17-point fourth quarter lead last week at home to the Panthers to fall to 3-4 on the season, but the Jaguars present a more worrying picture. Jacksonville’s defense has taken a step back, separate from the struggles at quarterback. Blake Bortles was benched mid-game against Houston in favor of Cody Kessler. Jags coach Doug Marrone is going back to Bortles for the start this week but he’ll be on a short leash again.
These squads are meeting in London and the fact that the Eagles have moved off a PK to -3 in one week shows that oddsmakers are losing faith in the Jaguars. But Philly is also just 2-5 ATS, so while people are down on the Jaguars, there’s some value with them getting three points in this matchup.
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Oakland Raiders
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 23, 2018
It’s safe to say that the perception of the Raiders has changed since the summer. CG Technology made Oakland a 6-point favorite back in May. Last week at the SuperBook, the Raiders were still favored, but the spread went down to 1.5. That number was on the move again this week when the SuperBook moved the line to the Colts as 3-point road favorites.
This game really is the epitome of recency bias. The Raiders are being perceived as “tanking,” especially after trading Amari Cooper to Dallas. QB Derek Carr is now publicly defending himself against the charge that he was crying on the field last week, and there’s rumors he could be on the way out. So, paradise Oakland is not, but the number has swung so heavily in the Colts’ direction, the Raiders now become a tempting play.
The Colts blasted the lowly Bills at home last week 37-5 but are just 1-3 on the road this year. The money is backing Indy here. The SuperBook released the number at 1.5 and it quickly jumped up to -3 on Monday. Maybe the Raiders are tanking, but it’s still hard to trust the Colts as road favorites. This game looks like the Raiders plus the points or pass.
New England Patriots (-14) at Buffalo Bills
The Bills were projected to be bad this season but they’re even worse than most thought and the number in this game backs that up.
If you bet the Patriots at CG Technology in May, you got them at 4.5. That’s close to a 10-point difference from the current line. Even last week at the SuperBook, New England was a 10.5-point road favorite, so the number has jumped close to four points in a week.
The SuperBook opened the Patriots as 13-point favorites. That number went up to 14 in less than 24 hours. After a slow start to the season, New England has ripped off four straight wins, scoring at least 38 points in every game. Meanwhile, the Bills have lost three of four after their historic upset over the Vikings and are down to their third-string quarterback.
The other thing we need to remember is New England has owned this series, especially in Buffalo. The Patriots are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 trips to Buffalo.
There is value in taking the Bills here after the line moved 3.5 points from last week. It just comes down to if you have the guts taking the Bills with Derek Anderson at quarterback versus Tom Brady and the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Looking at the early money coming in on the game, the answer so far is no.
New York Jets +7 at Chicago Bears
Both the Jets and Bears are coming off losses, but there’s more backing for Chicago, as the line has moved two points since last week. The Bears were -5 in the SuperBook’s early Week 8 lines. Despite losing at home to the Patriots Sunday, the Bears opened at -6 then moved to seven, where the line remained as of Tuesday.
It appears bettors are still buying into the Bears, who gave up a 95-yard punt return touchdown to New England last week, plus a blocked punt returned for a touchdown when the game was knotted at 24. Rather fluky events over the course of a season and apparently hasn’t changed the public’s perception of the Bears. The Jets got drilled at home 37-17 by the Vikings after winning two straight.
CG Technology made the Bears a 4.5-point favorite in May and that’s similar to what the SuperBook had last week. This could be a good spot to take the Jets. The Bears are coming off two emotional losses to Miami and New England and are now a touchdown favorite. This is a letdown spot for Chicago. The Jets are being a little undervalued here and the Bears haven’t shown enough to be 7-point favorites.