NFL Picks Against the Spread Week 3: Where's the Smart Money Going?
The National Football League regular season moves into its third week, and smart money is starting to get a handle on the odds-makers' intentions at this point.
In last week's edition, it was pointed out that big-time money was supporting the Tennessee Titans, which ultimately led to Week 2's most shocking upset.
Let's take a closer look at where the smart money is going in Week 3.
San Francisco at Cincinnati (-1.5)
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Very difficult line to judge at this point in terms of smart money since early wagers may have been driving the Cincinnati Bengals up in price, only to come in and take the San Francisco 49ers at a better price.
The betting public is going to find the 49ers attractive as an underdog, but they will be playing their first road game of the 2011 campaign.
On the flip side, Cincinnati is set to play its home-opener after covering both road games to open the season.
No clear edge at this point.
New England (-9) at Buffalo
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The New England Patriots sit atop my against-the-spread power rankings and have covered seven straight trips to Buffalo.
The early move came in on the Patriots, driving the line up to 9.5 and followed by today's morning move of sending it back down the ladder.
New England's 10-1 ATS mark as road favorites of four or more points against division members is tough to buck.
A sharp line is my final assessment.
Houston at New Orleans (-4)
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No question that sharp money is on the No. 4 team in my ATS rankings heading into this week.
The New Orleans Saints were sent out as 5.5-point home favorites and the bottom fell out immediately, dropping two points in a matter of 15 minutes.
That's a serious move in a matchup that features two of the top offenses in the league in terms of public perception.
It's a step up in class from the Colts and Dolphins, but the big boys in Las Vegas are currently believers in the team from the Lone Star State.
Miami at Cleveland (-1.5)
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The odds-makers trapped smart money last week in sending out the Cleveland Browns as road favorites against the Indianapolis Colts.
Stop the presses—Cleveland can't possibly be favored for a third consecutive week.
It's true, and sharp money is a believer.
Denver at Tennessee (-7)
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The smart money has already spoken, sending the Tennessee Titans from 4.5 to seven-point favorites.
Both teams are 1-1 entering this Week 3 campaign, but the Titans' victory over the Baltimore Ravens is carrying some major weight in the betting markets.
Plus, running back Chris Johnson has yet to take flight.
Detroit (-3.5) at Minnesota
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Here's the Baltimore Ravens of last week all over again.
The Detroit Lions are receiving the most wagers of any team on the board, but the line has moved down on two separate occasions.
The real question is this: When was the last time the Detroit Lions were favored away from home in this rivalry?
Line value is at its highest level due to the Minnesota Vikings collapsing last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I wonder who the Lions played in Week 1—Tampa Bay?
You get the picture.
Jacksonville at Carolina (-3.5)
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The Cam Newton Show remains at home after suffering a 30-23 setback to the Green Bay Packers as 10.5-point home underdogs.
Despite posting a 2-16 record since the start of the 2010 campaign, Carolina has been established as a solid 3.5-point home favorite.
Smart money is staying away from this contest due to the great unknown.
Who is the real Cam Newton—the one who completed just more than 40 percent of his passes during the preseason, or the one who is currently second in the league in passing yards?
Kansas City at San Diego (-14.5)
The Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL's biggest disaster, but they are attracting small amounts of smart money at the point.
After all, it's hard for anyone to back a team that has failed to cover the spread by an average of 37 points a contest through two weeks.
If the line moves any higher, then that's when more involvement from big-time bettors may start to come into play.
After all, the Pittsburgh Steelers disposed of the the Seattle Seahawks rather easily in Week 2 at the same price.
Casual bettors will find this matchup to be very similar when heading to the betting window.
New York Jets (-3) at Oakland
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You would think that smart money would be riding the home underdog in this contest, but that's simply not the case.
Odds-makers are fully aware of the Oakland Raiders being 2-0 ATS this year, nearly coming away with a 2-0 SU mark after two weeks on the road.
The New York Jets can stop the run, unlike the first two opponents Raiders Nation lined up against.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan will also circle the next two games on the schedule, which suggests that this contest is a must-win; road games at Baltimore and New England are on deck.
Don't get fooled by the line dropping from 3.5 to three.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay (-1)
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Both teams picked up come-from-behind victories in Week 2, but the odds-makers felt the public would be more impressed with the Atlanta Falcons beating the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's prime-time event.
Smart money wasn't.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved from one-point home underdogs to their current resting place as 1.5-point favorites.
Casual bettors will blindly bet the Falcons due to winning both meetings in 2010.
Arizona (-3) at Seattle
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The odds-makers had no choice but to send this line out at its current level.
Seattle has been that bad in the early going, but sharp bettors are going to ask a simple question later in the week: Are the Arizona Cardinals worthy of laying points against anyone?
Considering that the Seahawks were six-point home favorites in this contest a year ago, they may enter the betting market with a resounding "No."
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is gone, a player who led to many straight-up home underdog victories in the Pacific Northwest.
A line to watch closely.
Green Bay (-3.5) at Chicago
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Let's write a smart money screen play for Sunday's division battle between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.
First, let's throw in some playoff revenge.
Second item to throw in: a fierce rivalry inside the venue that hosted last year's NFC Championship Game.
Finally, Jay Cutler as the main actor.
You get the picture.
Pittsburgh (-10.5) at Indianapolis
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And the award for being the NFL's first team to be favored by double-digits in two weeks goes to—drum roll please—the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Peyton Manning isn't coming back anytime soon, but smart money is going to ride the Indianapolis Colts until all perceived value is gone.
Play if you must, but more appealing options are found on the odds board.