NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Books Fishing
by Dennis Ranahan

Following an opening week in the National Football League in which all seven first-year head coaches lost, tonight, Matt Nagy is looking to become the third first-year head coach to win in second week action. He leads his Chicago Bears into their home opener tonight when they host the Seattle Seahawks.

Yesterday, four of the first-year head coaches lost their second consecutive game, that list includes Matt Patricia of the Detroit Lions, Jon Gruden with the Oakland Raiders, Pat Shurmur of the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals’ Steve Wilkes. Two coaches got their initial NFL victories yesterday, Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans and Frank Reich, who led his Indianapolis Colts to a road win over the Washington Redskins.

The bookmakers figure Nagy is going to win tonight, as a national television audience was no doubt impressed by the young Bears even in a losing cause last Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears success was all tied to a first half that saw newly acquired linebacker Khalil Mack put on a show for the ages.

In just one half of play, the game changing linebacker collected a fumble, sack, and intercepted a pass he returned for a touchdown. Unfortunately, for his Bears, an offensive super star took over in the second half as Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a win while overcoming the largest fourth quarter deficit in team history.

I am always suspect of teams that credit themselves in a losing cause, and that fact is indicated in the point spread move on tonight’s game. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks opened as a three point road underdog, but now have been bet up to a 4½ point dog.

Who is moving that line?

It is not the public, they are banking on the Seahawks plus the points. In fact, even while the Bears were only getting three points on the spread the public bet on Seattle, and the linemakers still moved the line up to 3½ points. The action continued to come in on the Seahawks, at a 56% clip, and yet the books yesterday bumped the point spread up another point, to the current 4½ point line.

This begs the question?

Who do you want to align with, the public or bookmakers?

It is quite obvious from the shift in the line that the books are happy with getting Seattle wagers, and inviting more of it by the line move.

From where I sit, that can only suggest a wager that backs the books in the face of the public. For that reason, give me Chicago tonight.

But, no money is always right, and I have trouble backing a rookie head coach against veteran Carroll while Chicago is led by a quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t completed a touchdown in any of his last 104 passing attempts. While the books may be bloating the point spread to dissuade people like me from taking the Bears, in this case they succeeded.

I think we may have teams headed in opposite directions, the Bears on the cusp of something special and the Seahawks in the early stages of rebuilding. For that reason, if I had to bet on this game to buy a bus ticket out of Bakersfield, I’d put my money on the home team and lay the points.

Fortunately, I’m not in Bakersfield … so I don’t have to risk anything on this intriguing matchup.