NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Public Swarm
by Dennis Ranahan

EARLY CALL: The game from London on Sunday morning between the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars kicks off at 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time, before most of the sports books are open in Las Vegas and clients on the west coast have checked our game day report. Therefore, because we do have a rated point spread play on this game, we have posted it on this site now along with a money management number. Know that while this game is currently posted on the site, the remainder of our Sunday selections will be added prior to 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

The New York Giants are in the midst of another losing season. Without a dramatic turnaround, they are currently mired in last place in the NFC East Division with a 1-6 mark, they will compile their fourth losing campaign in the past five seasons. They have also not treated their home fans well, losing all three of their games at MetLife Stadium to the Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

The Washington Redskins lead the NFC East Division with a 4-2 mark and the addition of quarterback Alex Smith has erased any concerns over the departure of Kirk Cousins. In recent years, Smith has one of the best regular season marks during the regular season of any NFL quarterback, ranking favorably against the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger.

This week, the Redskins visit the Giants while entering the week with a first place bulge of more than a game in their division race. So, how many points are the Redskins favored by on the spread this week? Three, four, six points or more?

Nope.

The opening line on this game had the contest listed as a pick ‘em.

What?

Misprint?

The public bettors figured this is one of those games the books have wrong, and they swarmed the books to get down on the first place Redskins like locus attacking crops in the field. All week long the bettors banged on Washington, today, as many as 80% of the wagers on this game are backing Washington on the road.

So, did the books correct their “error” with all that Washington money?

No.

The line on this game has stayed near a pick ‘em all week, while in fact some of the sharpest lines have the last place Giants favored by a point over the incoming Redskins.

How can this be?

First of all, let's begin with the basic premise that the books don’t make mistakes on the line. The purpose of the point spread ideally is to balance the wagers between the home team and road team, or favorite and underdog. Those that run sports books know that seldom are wagers on games actually split evenly, but you can count on the books moving lines in directions that they need action.

In other words, if they had a lot more money on the Redskins in this game, Washington would be favored by an increasing number of points. But, despite more than 80% of all the wagers on this game backing the road team, the line has remained relatively steady throughout the week.

What can we deduce from this?

First, the books set a line on this game to attract public money, and they got that done. Second, if they are not moving the line as dramatic as the public is wagering on this game, then one of two things has got to be true. Either, there is a lot of wise guy money coming in on the Giants to offset the mountain of cash wagered by the public on the Redskins, or, the books are gambling against the public on this game.

Now, I have seen games in the past where I do believe the books were taking a side, although they will vigorously deny that assertion. But, we know on Sunday in the Giants/Redskins game they are either taking a side or balancing their books with smart money versus public money. Which leaves us one last question … do you want to bet with the public or the smart money?

I have a suggestion.

Qoxhi Picks: New York Giants (+1) over Washington Redskins