What the Sharps Think About The Final Week of the NFL

With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich


I have to say this is one of the weirdest final Sundays I've ever seen in the NFL.

  • Hardly any games matter. The hopes for something mattering hinge on one of the best teams in pro football losing at home to the worst as a two-touchdown favorite.
  • Every game is a divisional game, which the league was hoping would spur interest...but instead just spurs question marks everywhere about intensity. Will revenge matter in a lame duck game? Do rivals really hate each other as much as the media says?  
  • There are quarterback question marks in a few places, making an awkward week even more difficult for oddsmakers and handicappers.
  • The "biggest" game that matters the most involves two bad teams who are fighting to take a poor record into the postseason as an obvious pretender.

Have fun everyone!

Because of all the question marks everywhere, we've seen very limited betting action so far. Sharps want to be confident of an edge before they bet. If you don't know who's going to play quarterback, which teams are resting their starters for part of the game (or the whole game), who's going to be playing for next year or just going through the motions, there's just no reason to make a big investment.

Also, sharps tend to prefer underdogs. We have a lot of short prices this week where it might pay to wait until game day to bet because the public may get involved and drive the lines higher.

I should also mention that weather could be an influence in many outdoor sites, so there's no reason to bet the totals early unless there's dramatic news in the forecast. Nothing like that has hit the wires as or press time for this article.

So, it would be futile to run through every game on the schedule to talk about what the sharps are thinking...because they're just biding their time until things firm up. They'll be prepared. Should Atlanta inexplicably struggle with Carolina in the early game, sharps will take the logical positions in the late games that matter. Otherwise, it's the calm before a storm that may never arrive.

It's probably better this week to outline what sharps are thinking about the playoff teams. Sportsbooks will put up the openers for Wildcard Weekend Sunday Night (though Seattle/St. Louis will determine the eighth and final playoff team in prime time). Here's my read on how the sharps currently have the likely playoff teams rated:

1...New England
2...Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Indianapolis
5...NY Jets
6...Kansas City

There's respect for Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Indianapolis that pretty much evens out. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have been to the Super Bowl before. Neither is playing great lately, but each is capable of stringing together wins. The Colts are more of a threat now that Joseph Addai is healthy. Sharps don't see any of those teams rating better than the Pats right now though.

Sharps know New England is the best. But, the nature of the beast is that the public wants to bet New England once they take the field in two weeks, so sharps have to decide whether they want to bet the Pats on the opener to get position (or take advantage of a short line)...or wait and fade the Pats.

The Jets aren't seen as a serious threat because you can't trust quarterback Mark Sanchez in a big game, and because Rex Ryan seems to have lost much of his bluster in recent weeks. The aura is gone from this team for now. Sharps will consider them as a value dog...but not really as a Super Bowl threat right now.

With Kansas City, credit where it's due. Experience matters in the postseason though, and this is a very green team in that regard. They'll look to see if the public underrated the Chiefs in the opening week. They're not lining up to bet KC to win the AFC.

1...Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Green Bay
6...The NFC West champ

It's really a toss-up in the East. The top four are basically interchangeable in terms of the sharps ratings. Atlanta isn't as good as their record, but they're very good. New Orleans is closing strong. Philadelphia stubbed its toe last week...and will fall quickly from the sharps' graces if Michael Vick keeps limping. The Eagles are only a threat if he's able to scramble for big plays. Green Bay looked great last week, and gave New England all they could handle with their backup QB the game before.

Chicago will probably get a bye, but they're not seen by sharps as second best. Sharps don't trust Jay Cutler at QB in big games...they don't trust head coach Lovie Smith...and they don't see the explosiveness here that exists with those four teams I listed first.

Whether Seattle or St. Louis rounds out the sextet...they'll be clear underdogs on their home field in the first round.

In terms of this Sunday, I'd encourage you to monitor line moves closely. If you see a big move on an underdog, that's VERY likely a sharp move because squares (the public) don't bet dogs. A big move on the favorite may be from a public bandwagon effect, so handle those with caution.

If you want to make sure you get the best value plays on the board Sunday, you can purchase my BEST BETS a few hours before kickoff. Have your credit card handy when you log in. Or, call the office at 1-877-822-2276.

I hope you brought in the NEW YEAR in fine fashion. I look forward to showing you all through 2011 why the best information comes DIRECT FROM NEVADA!


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