Sunday's marquee game presents a situation that often annoys bettors: A matchup of teams I want to fade. The Green Bay Packers visit the Philadelphia Eagles as 6.5-point underdogs with both squads disappointing backers lately. Over the past three weeks, they are a combined 1-5 against the spread.
Schedule-makers sometimes deliver an ideal betting spot but other times they ignore your wishes. And I would classify Sunday Night Football as the latter. At 4-7, the Packers seem like a wounded animal and Aaron Rodgers shared that he is playing with an injured right thumb. I am only looking to fade this problematic team.
The Eagles are still quality but they often draw everyone's best shot and seem to have hit a midseason wall. I am eager to back teams catching a lot of points against them but it cannot be a farce like Green Bay. Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur have typically thrived in this situation. They're 12-3 ATS as an underdog and 12-3 ATS off a loss but this season clearly has a different look and vibe.
"Past history only goes so far. Each season is so different. As the season has gone on, we've adjusted them in our ratings quite a bit," Caesars Sportsbook assistant director of trading Adam Pullen told ESPN. "A lot of the public has jumped ship as they've been burned too many times."
The Packers are still technically alive for the post-season but I have zero confidence that they can weather this storm and find any resemblance of the team that finished with the NFC's top seed each of the past two years.
"I know Green Bay has won a game here and there but I think they're done," professional bettor Chuck Edel told ESPN, sharing that he laid the 6.5 points with the Eagles, who he thinks significantly improved their run defense by recently adding Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph. "I think it's a good matchup for Philly. Now that the line is under seven (points), it's cheap. I thought the number should be 7.5."
Philly is the only side I would consider playing. I prefer to play the Eagles in a teaser with the 49ers or Jets. You would have to shop for the best lines to minimize the teaser points but it's an option worth considering.
The numbers you need to know
Sometimes trends are mere fun-facts. For example, the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans are the NFL's two hottest teams and have outperformed the market in impressive fashion. Tennessee has covered eight straight games, while Cincy is riding a 7-1 ATS run. Something has to give on Sunday.
However, there are a couple other trends that have caught my eye and seem actionable. Let's start with the San Francisco 49ers, who have a pitched three straight second-half shutouts. That's a direct reflection of defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. On Monday Night Football, the ESPN broadcast booth of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman sung his praises and suggested a team will tab him for its head coach this coming offseason. I will be looking to bet the second-half under, if the 49ers lead the Saints at halftime.
The Los Angeles Chargers were one of San Francisco's recent victims but the Chargers have had issues beyond that one half. They have mustered just two second-half touchdowns over the last five games. One came in garbage time of a convincing loss and the other needed last week's miracle third-and-18 conversion. Otherwise, this teams looks disjointed and constantly underdelivers. Head coach Brandon Staley leaves a lot to be desired, thanks to questionable decisions. I will be looking to fade them in many spots, even though QB Justin Herbert is so talented.
Line move of the week
The New York Jets and Chicago Bears saw their point spread move throughout the week, due to news surrounding both starting quarterbacks. An injury report surfaced on Monday regarding Justin Fields, which prompted a respected wager on the Jets. That bettor likely just wanted to beat the market in the event that Fields is unable to play. Then on Wednesday, in a move many anticipated, New York coach Robert Saleh benched quarterback Zach Wilson. Mike White will start but the line remained around 3.5 points.
Following this sequence, speculation started to grow that Fields would miss the game. That prompted a more noticeable line move and the spread has now hit -7, which indicates the market is forecasting Trevor Siemian to start for Chicago. The QB and his teammates have played their cards very close to the vest and will not reveal who is taking the practice reps. But the market is much more transparent.
Respected money arrives for a variety of reasons. One could serve as a mere play to beat the market, anticipating an injury. Professional bettors often just want to assemble the best numbers and then have the option to play back the other side for a chance at a middle, which is an opportunity to win both bets or lose a small amount of juice.
As always, nearly all NFL games will likely have professional money on both sides. However, there are different tiers of pros. Based on my intel, sharp bettors have wagered on: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3, Tennessee Titans +3, Miami Dolphins -12, Arizona Cardinals +3.5, Seattle Seahawks -3.5, Baltimore Ravens- Jacksonville Jaguars under 45.5 and Green Bay Packers-Philadelphia Eagles over 44.5 and 45.5.