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Four bowl game lines quickly move twice
LAS VEGAS - After the four BCS bowl games were put up on the board on Sunday afternoon, the rest of the college bowl games were posted at Las Vegas sports books on Monday afternoon.
There were two notable exceptions, as the Dec. 27 Champs Sports Bowl between Colorado and Clemson and the Dec. 30 Peach Bowl between LSU and Miami-Fla. were kept off the board because of quarterbacks listed as questionable with injuries.
As is usually the case, the Stardust led the way with their opening lines right after noon Monday. After the Stardust took the first hits from professional bettors who pounded the lines into place, most of the major casino companies followed in the midafternoon with the adjusted numbers.
The Palms and Golden Nugget were the first to post totals on all of the bowl games, and the Palms gets extra kudos for taking positions on several games that were shaded away from the market. Only time will tell if the Palms's strategy works out, but it's good to see bet-takers book aggressively.
At the Stardust, there were fewer cases this year than in past years of "double moves" - a line bet the limit, getting moved, and then bet and moved a second time. Still, the double moves were:
* Central Florida opened -1 1/2 vs. Nevada in the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl, but early money came on the underdog and the Stardust made Nevada a one-point choice - then on Tuesday morning raised it to -1 1/2.
* Boise St. opened as a three-point favorite in the Dec. 28 MPC Computers Bowl, which is basically a home game on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. The line dropped to -2 1/2 by 1:45 p.m. Monday, and to -1 1/2 by Tuesday morning. While most books opened Boise -1 or -1 1/2, the Palms opened the game pick-'em.
* Georgia Tech opened -6 1/2 vs. Utah in the Dec. 29 Emerald Bowl and was bet right away to -7 and then to -7 1/2.
* South Carolina opened -2 1/2 vs. Missouri in the Dec. 30 Independence Bowl and was bet to -3 right away, and then upped to -3 1/2 by Tuesday morning. The Palms again had the most disparate line in town at -4 and was still holding the line as of noon Tuesday.
* Virginia Tech opened -9 1/2 vs. Louisville in the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl, but money came right away on Louisville and the line dropped to -9 and then was lowered to 8 1/2 on Tuesday morning.
Most other lines were pretty stagnant or adjusted by a point at the most.
The most solid line on any bowl game looks like Florida -3 vs. Iowa in the Jan. 2 Outback Bowl. Wynn Las Vegas and the Golden Nugget both opened Florida -2 1/2, while the Palms was the lone book to open as high as 3 1/2. That line is sure to settle at 3.
NFL league-wide betting trends
The incredible run of NFL favorites covering the spread continued with faves going 12-4 for the second straight week. For the year, favorites are 112-76-5 (59.5 percent). The sports books usually lose when the favorites come in at a high rate, so it was another bad weekend for the books - some are calling it perhaps the worst week ever for the books - and it was made even more disastrous when you look at the few favorites that did fail to cover. The Dolphins were -5 vs. the Bills and won only 24-23; the Steelers were -3 vs. the Bengals and lost outright 38-31; the Ravens were -7 1/2 vs. the Texans and won only 16-15; and the Broncos were -1 vs. the Chiefs and lost 31-27. The Chiefs game was right around pick-'em and can hardly be called an upset, the Bengals were a very popular underdog play and didn't help the books any, and the Dolphins and Ravens were two teams that few people were backing with confidence.
* Road favorites again came through, going 6-1 both straight-up and against the spread, and are winning at a 62 percent clip at 36-22-1, including 12-1 the last two weeks.
* That led to home teams having a losing record overall at 7-9 against the spread, making them just 99-90-4 on the season.
* About the only historically profitable angle that was holding up this season was double-digit underdogs, but they took a beating last week, going 0-3 against the spread and falling to 9-11 (45 percent) on the year. With the difference being bigger between the haves and the have-nots, there are a lot of big point spreads this week. If you think the lines are inflated and the big dogs can bark again, they are the Browns +12 1/2 vs. the Bengals, the 49ers +16 vs. the Seahawks, the Dolphins +14 vs. the Chargers, the Ravens +14 vs. the Broncos, and the Saints +10 1/2 vs. the Falcons.
* In totals wagering, unders went 11-5 last weekend and are 21-11 the past two weeks to improve to 100-87-5 overall after being around .500 most of the year.
NFL who's hot who's not
With their 35-3 thrashing of the Titans as 15 1/2-point favorites, the Colts took over the top spot in the NFL's against-the-spread standings at 9-3. The Broncos' 31-27 loss to the Chiefs dropped them to 8-3-1 and into a tie for second place with the Bears, Giants, and Chargers. The Chiefs, at 8-4, are the only other team in the league covering at least two-thirds of their games. The Vikings have the longest streak with five straight point-spread covers.
* Green is the color of money, but only if you've been going against the green-clad Eagles and Jets, who are tied with an NFL-worst 3-9 spread record. The Jets have also dropped four in a row. Other underperforming teams spreadwise are the Cardinals, Dolphins, Rams, and Ravens at 4-8.
* In totals wagering, the Bears went under for the fourth straight game - even though the total was only 31 in their 19-10 victory over the Packers - and are now 9-2-1 with the under. The Bears again this week have a total of 31, versus the Steelers. The Vikings have gone under in four straight games and are tied with the Browns at 9-3, with the Ravens right behind at 8-3-1.
* The Rams and Cardinals, the top over teams heading into last week, both went under and are now tied at 8-4 with the over with the Broncos and Seahawks. With the under hitting in 11 of the 16 games last weekend, it's not surprising that the longest over streak is just three by the Bengals.