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When it comes to this weekend’s divisional playoff round, bookmakers aren’t screwing around with the favorites. They’re moving them up fast, sometimes skipping numbers.
The oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants, for instance, sent-out an opening number on Seattle-Green Bay of Packers -7. The number immediately shot up to -9 at some books.
“They’re (bookmakers) going from seven right to the next key number of nine,” said Mike Seba, a senior linesmakers for LVSC. “They’re skipping 7 ½, eight and 8 ½. “It’s a strategy they’re using.
“They’re taking a stand with favorites. It’s so tough for teams that won this past weekend to go on the road and win against a rested team.”
It’s clear the house wants to be on the side of the favorites this week. New England, Indianapolis and Dallas all have been adjusted higher, too.
Seba said he though LVSC was shading the favorite when it sent out New England -11 ½ versus Jacksonville. The line, though, was up to a solid 13 Monday afternoon.
“We were thinking that a handicapping number was 9 ½ or 10,” Seba said. “So we thought we were inflating it. We want to be on the high side of these favorites.
“But as it turns out we didn’t inflate it enough. It has to be less than 14. So 13 could be the right number. If it got to 14, it would quickly come down because you can’t lay 14 to Jacksonville.
“Jacksonville has been playing so well. The Jaguars are one of the few teams that could give the Patriots trouble.”
Bettors hoping to lay seven with Indianapolis against San Diego are disappointed. LVSC’s recommendation was Colts – 7 ½. Sportsbooks were at 8 ½ or 9 Monday morning on the Colts.
The Chargers have won and covered in their past seven games. But San Diego may be without Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates, who suffered a toe injury Sunday against Tennessee and is ‘questionable.’
“It’s tough to make the line higher than 7 ½ considering how well the Chargers are playing,” Seba said. “If he (Gates) were healthy, the line would be 7 ½.”
Those betting the Colts also may be factoring in the team’s first meeting during Week 10 in San Diego. The Chargers picked off Peyton Manning six times and returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown. The Colts came into that matchup extremely banged-up and had to play in the rain.
Still, the Chargers only won by two points when Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals, including a 29-yarder with 1:31 left that may have given the Colts the victory.
“You might be able to draw conclusions from that game, but a lot has changed since then,” Seba said. “The Chargers know they can play with Indianapolis. They beat them at Indianapolis two years ago (26-17). The value definitely might be with the ‘dog.”
The Giants-Cowboys line was the toughest one to make, Seba said. LVSC ended up sending out Cowboys -8 ½. Some places opened it shorter at -7. The line settled in at -7 ½ Monday afternoon.
The Cowboys are 2-0 against the Giants this season, defeating them 45-35 at home and 31-20 on the road. Dallas, however, has failed to cover its past four games. The Cowboys are averaging just 10.6 points during their last three contests.
The Giants played one of their finest games of the season during Week 17 in losing 38-35 to New England. The Giants followed that up by upsetting Tampa Bay as a three-point playoff road underdog, 24-14.
“I think 7 ½ is a good number,” Seba said. “The Giants are coming in on a roll and Dallas isn’t playing well. But the injuries the Giants have suffered eventually have to catch up to them. The Giants will run out of gas. It may happen here.”
Seba said LVSC’s opening line recommendation was factoring in Terrell Owens. Oddsmakers are anticipating he’s going to play. Owens had suffered a high ankle sprain on Dec. 22 in a victory against Carolina. By Stephen Nover, A Professional Handicapper at Covers Experts.
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