What Sharps Think about Wildcard Weekend

With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich


Vegas sharps (professional wagerers) are treading relatively lightly as they enter Wildcard Weekend in the NFL. The first part of the regular season was more lucrative for them than the second half because underdogs were getting the money much more often in the first two months. Plus, you probably know many sharps took a hit on New Year's Day as they pounded Michigan State, Michigan, and to a lesser degree Penn State before bad losses by those teams.

Last Sunday wasn't a very active day for sharps. Lines were stacked very much against teams who needed to win. Most of them did so. A few picked their spots and did well. The bottom line is that sharps aren't coming in to the playoffs with a swagger in their step. Many of the biggest mouths in Vegas have been quiet the past few weeks!

This doesn't mean sharps are invisible though. Here's what I've seen them betting, and what I've heard them saying about the four NFL games this weekend:

NEW ORLEANS AT SEATTLE: New Orleans is extremely expensive at -10½ on the road. You just don't see lines like that in the playoffs. Home teams may lay that much. But, ROAD teams? Sharps prefer big dogs in big games (and there have been decades where that killed them in playoffs and Super Bowls way back in the day). They don't want to step in with Seattle until they know what's going on at quarterback, and what the weather is going to be like. I do expect game day money to come in from sharps on Seattle. This is a team they LOVED earlier in the season at the right prices. The public will probably be on New Orleans because they love betting the Saints as favorites. Sharps are hoping they'll see +11 on game day on the team side. The total her dropped from 45 to 44 on news of the Saints injury situation at running back.

NY JETS AT INDIANAPOLIS: Clear support for the Jets here, which isn't a surprise because many sharps have been calling Indianapolis a fraud for years. They kept saying that right up through the Super Bowl last year...and could finally say "See, we told you so" after losing until then. The opener here of Indianapolis -3 has dropped to -2½. It takes a lot of money to move off the field goal...and a lot of support for a dog to KEEP a line at 2.5 once it's moved. We're not seeing a flood of interest on the home team at less than a field goal, though the public will probably step in on the Colts on game day because they love getting Peyton Manning cheap. It's funny, I'm hearing some comprehensive analysis on what the Jets are such a great play here from many different spots. It's the EXACT SAME THING these same guys were saying a year ago before the Colts controlled the Jets fairly easily on the same field. It's true that the Colts have more injuries this year than last. Has the line properly adjusted for that?

BALTIMORE AT KANSAS CITY: The earliest numbers here were Baltimore -1 or -1½. Sharps hit THOSE stores hard at first...so that most places opened the line at Baltimore -3. It's stayed there every since. Sometimes the early bird gets smacked by the worms. We'll see Sunday whether or not Kansas City deserves more respect than they're getting in the number. They had a great season, but did look very shaky last week vs. Oakland in a game that everyone watched out here in the sportsbooks. Oakland is like a local team in Vegas in terms of fan support. Also note that Baltimore has won on the road in Wildcard weekend each of the last two years in convincing fashion. That has many thinking -3 is a small price to play to get them. We might see some dog money come in at KC +3½. As of now, I'm just not hearing many people endorsing the Chiefs. The total has dropped from 42 to 41 or 40½. We may see a further drop if weather is going to help the defenses.

GREEN BAY AT PHILADELPHIA: The line here is hopping between Philly -2½ and Philly -3. Wherever it sits money comes in on the other side. Eagles backers LOVE that they could get their team at less than a field goal. Packer backers LOVE that they can get a full field goal in a game they expect to win straight up. This is going to be the heaviest bet game of the weekend because it's a great matchup in the grand finale. And, we have very strong competing interests. Sportsbooks will pray it doesn't land on three because then they'll have to pay out the Eagles -2½ money while refunding the Green Bay +3 money. Disaster! Many stores are using three with an extra moneyline to avoid that possibility. Nothing yet is happening on the total. This is definitely a site where you want to know the weather before betting an Over/Under.

That wraps up my look at what the sharps are thinking about Wildcard Weekend. I have my own opinions on the games. At least one of those will likely be a GAME OF THE YEAR caliber release as I've mentioned in other places. You can sign up for all football from this point forward here at the website. That includes Friday Night's Cotton Bowl matching LSU and Texas A&M, all the Saturday and Sunday action in the NFL and the bowls (Pitt-Kentucky and Nevada-Boston College), Monday's BCS Championship game featuring Oregon and Auburn...and the rest of the playoffs. It's really going to pay for you to have a friend in Nevada during this amazing stretch of football!

If you have any questions, call the office at 1-877-822-2276. Be sure to check on basketball when you call. We have a huge Saturday in college hoops on tap as conference play has begun all over the country. I can tell you firsthand that the best time to attack the baskets is when sportsbooks are buried in football action.

I'll be back Sunday morning with a look at what sharps are thinking, saying, and betting in the BCS Championship game between Oregon and Auburn. In the meantime, don't forget that the best information will always come to you DIRECT FROM NEVADA!


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