Week 16's key NFL line moves  

December, 21, 2012

It is still crazy early in the betting week to be making judgments about people's judgment, but I look at the betting ticket percentage splits at various sites like pregame.com or sportsinsights.com and I think, has no one learned their lesson this season?

In the New England-Jacksonville game, 73 percent of tickets have been written on the side of the Pats, who are 14.5-point road favorites. The Colts are a touchdown road favorite at Kansas City, and they are getting 85 percent of the tickets. Or how about the Bears as 5.5-point favorites at Arizona? That split is 85-15. Apparently, after seeing the Lions lose outright as 6.5-point faves at Arizona last week, no one believes lightning can strike twice in the desert.

And what about in Philadelphia, where the Eagles are six-point dogs to the Redskins, who are seeing 90 percent of the action? Really? Ninety percent on a road fave of nearly a touchdown in a division game? I don't care how much of a malfunctioning mess the Eagles are, the fact that nine out of 10 tickets being written so far are for the Skins is a little astonishing to me.

But here is my favorite: The Broncos are 13-point favorites at home over the Browns, and the ticket split is 70-30 Denver. I know all the reasons why: Peyton Manning, Von Miller, a splendid offense and dynamic defense. A team that has won nine in a row, solidified itself as a Super Bowl favorite and clinched the division. Not for nothing, the Broncos are also 8-5-1 against the spread.

But, consider the Browns: Yes, they are 5-9. Yes, Brandon Weeden is the quarterback. This team plays hard. Every run Trent Richardson makes feels like a cartoon collision. They are also 8-5-1 against the spread, including 3-1-1 when the number is seven points or higher. The tendency, as we've said in this column and on the podcast about 100,000 times, is for the public to bet, and for bookmakers to book, based on the week before. It's a chicken and egg debate about who perceives what first: Is it bookmakers setting the public's expectations and the public reacting? Or is it the habits of the public forcing bookmakers to anticipate and posting a number based on that?

Either way, last week the Browns lost by 17 points to a rookie backup quarterback. Meanwhile the Broncos continued to roll through the league, going to Baltimore and doubling them up, 34-17. Of course the public is going to buy the Broncos, no matter how high the price.

I'm just not sure I am.

Anyway, we're switching gears this week. Every once in a while during the season, I like to call on Warren Sharp, who has established a rep in the wiseguy industry as a smart totals player. I know Krackman has come to rely on his info when he's making his big-ticket bets, and several other professional bettors do, too.

Warren is the kind of guy, like The SportsBoss who I've written about in the column before, who has a full-time job and is looking for ways to make his passion -- sports betting -- his life. An engineer by training, he's also one of those new breed of bettors relying heavily on analytics and algorithms to power his decisions. He's put some of that ingenuity into a new app called Bettor's Sidekick that aggregates lines from sports books, allows you to track your bets, sends alert, offers bankroll management and loads more.

He also put a lot of thought into the totals for this weekend's games. Here are five that caught his attention.