NFL preseason play brings with it a rather different schedule, and this week, that includes an unusual Wednesday night game. Covers checks in on the action with Peter Childs, risk management supervisor for offshore site Sportsbook.ag, and Jeff Stoneback, director of trading for MGM Resorts books here in Las Vegas.
Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers – Open: -3; Move: -2.5; Move: -2; Move: -1.5; Move: -1; Move: Pick; Move: -1
Carolina, which went to the Super Bowl following the 2015 season, had a dismal 6-10 campaign last year (6-9-1 ATS), so Cam Newton and Co. are certainly hoping for a return to form. But not surprisingly, Newton won’t even take the field for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff.
Houston won the AFC South last year, albeit with a 9-7 record (6-9-1 ATS), then shipped away quarterback Brock Osweiler to Cleveland. So Tom Savage will get the start tonight, and rookie Deshaun Watson – a star for national champion Clemson last year – will see some time, as well.
That’s got the attention of professional bettors, causing a 3-point swing at Sportsbook.ag before the line reverted back a tick to Panthers -1.
“Preseason football line moves are all based on sharp action. Sharps rule the marketplace on NFL preseason games,” Childs said. “The Panthers have been bet down to -1 for the simple fact that Texans coach Bill O’brien was quoted saying of his team, ‘If they’re healthy, they’re playing.’ He has a bit of a QB competition in camp, with Savage the designated starter but highly touted rookie Watson primed to take over at some point during the regular season. We expect to see these guys go at least two series each, maybe more.
“As for the Panthers, they’ve already said Cam will not see the field, so at the most important position in sports, the Texans should have a significant advantage at QB.”
Stoneback, based out of The Mirage on the Vegas Strip, said MGM books also opened at -3 on Friday and saw the line steadily drop to -1.
“It’s been all sharp play, on very limited betting,” he said this afternoon. “There is very low interest in this game. A lot of people probably don’t realize there’s a game tonight, honestly.”
Stoneback said MGM books have also seen some sharp play on the Over, taking the total from 36.5 up to 38. Sportsbook.ag also opened at 36.5, dipped to 36 Tuesday, then rose to 38 this morning.
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