By Patrick Everson
FOX Sports Gambling Writer
Didn’t we just have two first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks square off last week? Indeed, we did, but the game we got wasn’t exactly riveting, as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers edged Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-12.
Pending the aftermath of Hurricane Ian – currently still impacting Florida – the game might remain in Tampa, or it could move all the way to U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings.
Following are insights on Chiefs-Bucs, and several more betting nuggets on NFL Week 4 odds and college football Week 5 odds.
Back on the Bucs’ Bus
One professional bettor, whom I connect with regularly, hasn’t been too keen on Tom Brady and Co. so far this season. He bet against the Bucs in Week 2 at New Orleans, lost, went back to the anti-Tampa well in Week 3 vs. the Packers, and won.
This week, however, he’s actually more enthused with the Buccaneers. Wideout Mike Evans is back from a one-game suspension, and fellow wideout Chris Godwin (hamstring) should return. And another wideout, Julio Jones (knee), might be in the lineup, too.
“Tampa should get a bunch of weapons back this week,” the sharp bettor said. “The Bucs’ defense has been solid, and Kansas City will struggle in this matchup. Take Tampa.”
His bet comes with one caveat: the game being played in Tampa.
“I like the Bucs at home. I’m not interested if it gets relocated,” he said.
John Manica, a trader at WynnBet, confirmed that the wiseguys like the Bucs this week, presuming this game isn’t moved. Sharp play came early in the week when Tampa was as much as a 3-point home underdog at multiple sportsbooks. The Bucs are down to +1 at most shops now, including WynnBet.
“Sharp interest has been decidedly on the Bucs to bounce back vs. the Chiefs,” Manica said. “Mahomes and Brady, both coming off a loss, are in a highly anticipated Sunday Night Football clash. The Bucs definitely need to right the ship and should be playing with desperation and potentially more weapons, as Evans returns from suspension and Godwin is likely to go.”
Double-dip on Cincy
The same sharp bettor is starting off his NFL Week by getting involved with the Thursday Night Football matchup between the unbeaten Miami Dolphins and the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. Even though it took Cincy three weeks to get its first win and cover, he likes Joe Burrow & Co. in this spot.
“I played Cincy at pick ‘em when it opened and also some at -2,” he said. “I think the Miami defense will struggle after the workload [it’s had]. I also feel that emotionally, Miami will be struggling for energy.”
To the bettor’s points on Miami’s energy level – physical and emotional – the Dolphins are coming off two big but taxing wins. Miami had a huge fourth-quarter rally to win at Baltimore 42-38 in Week 2, then upset the visiting Buffalo Bills 21-19 in Week 3.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (back/ankle) was hurt against Buffalo, and his status still isn’t certain for Thursday night.
Getting bets in early was key, as the value on the Bengals is long gone, with the line now up to Cincinnati -3.5. It even touched -4 at some spots Tuesday and Wednesday.
Pros vs. Joes
Another highlight game in the NFL Week 4 odds market pits the Buffalo Bills against the Baltimore Ravens. One thing the two teams have in common: both lost to the Dolphins – Baltimore in Week 2 and Buffalo in Week 3.
Another thing they have in common: MVP-caliber quarterbacks in Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson. There’s already interest in both sides of what’s developing into what oddsmakers term a Pros vs. Joes game.
“Surely, public money will be on the Bills and the Over, as we will see a classic battle of professional bettors vs. the public shaping up,” WynnBet’s Manica said. “We took a respected bet on the Baltimore Ravens +3.5, causing the line to move to its current position of -3. Also, the total in the game was at 52, and sharp action knocked that down to 51.”
College Football Rocks on FOX
Anytime you talk about a game involving Iowa, the total has to be a focal point. Because generally speaking, it’s going to be low. In this week’s case, WynnBet opened the total at 43 Sunday evening and fell to 42 by Monday night.
Although the Over is drawing 56.2% of tickets at midweek, a whopping 97% of early dollars are on the Under at WynnBet. That’s largely due to Iowa’s penchant for very low-scoring games. The Under is 3-1 this season for Iowa. And it would be 4-0 if not for the Hawkeyes’ 51-yard fourth-quarter field goal, the final points in a 27-10 Week 4 win at Rutgers.
The total in that game: a not-so-robust 34.5. So that long-distance kick was the difference for Over and Under bettors.
The Oklahoma State-Baylor tilt in Waco is also seeing some interesting point-spread action at WynnBet, as we move toward the weekend. Baylor opened -2.5 and is down to -1.5. The Bears are netting 75% of early spread tickets, but 83% of early spread money is on the short road ‘dog Cowboys.
Riding the Storm Out
Thanks to the possible continued impact of Hurricane Ian, several games on the college football Week 5 odds board have seen plummeting totals. Perhaps most notable is No. 5 Clemson’s home showdown against No. 10 North Carolina State on Saturday night.
Caesars Sports opened that total at 46.5 late Sunday afternoon, and by early Monday afternoon, it had plunged to 41.5. The total bottomed out at 39.5 Wednesday afternoon, then ticked up to 40.5.
“It looks like the Carolinas and Virginia will be impacted the most on Saturday by Hurricane Ian,” Caesars lead college football trader Joey Feazel said. “With Georgia Southern-Coastal, they’ve been hammering Georgia Southern Overs recently. But that tempo and passing game, if that’s your game plan, rain and wind don’t mix with that. With those bigger totals, [people betting this Under] really has to do with playing style and whether they like to throw the ball or not, because how this weather affects them most is the passing game.”
All that duly noted, with revised forecasts, the Georgia Southern-Coastal Carolina total rebounded to 64 by early Wednesday evening at Caesars.
Back to the Big Boys
Let’s return to NFL Week 4 odds to wrap things up this week. The Los Angeles Chargers continue to be banged up, most notably at QB, with Justin Herbert still working through a Week 2 rib injury. He played much of last week’s home game against Jacksonville, but the Chargers shockingly got dunked 38-10.
That’s leading the wiseguys to jump on the host Houston Texans this week. Although Houston is 0-2-1 straight up, the Texans have been much more competitive than expected and are 2-0-1 against the spread.
“The injury report has piled up for the Chargers in recent days,” WynnBet’s Manica said. “Nearly every wager has been on the Texans, driving the opening number of Chargers -7 down to -5. The Texans can make a statement with a win. Any further movement down will certainly stimulate interest on the still-favored Chargers, who should be able to compete despite the depleted roster.”
A couple more NFL sharp nuggets, courtesy of Rex Beyers, longtime oddsmaker and current head of wagering for PlayUp USA:
— “Good, sharp two-way action on Bears at Giants.” Some professional bettors are laying the 3 points with home favorite New York, and when the line goes to 3.5, other pros are taking those points with road underdog Chicago.
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He previously worked for Covers and is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.
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