LAS VEGAS -- The NFL regular season starts in less than two weeks, but bettors here in Vegas have had advance lines for three months. The Las Vegas Hotel SuperBook posted its "Game of the Year" back on May 20, giving wiseguys and spring and summertime visitors the chance to bet on marquee matchups, as well as all the prime-time games including "Monday Night Football" on ESPN.
Jay Kornegay, head man at the LVH, said that most of the line moves have been "based on off-field issues and not money." The biggest examples are the games involving the New England Patriots. After the news came out that tight end Aaron Hernandez was being investigated for murder, the LVH adjusted the lines on all their games based on the belief that the public would downgrade the Pats (and that's pretty much what has happened, not only with the loss of him as a player but also the overall distraction to the team). In fact, of the seven games that the Patriots are involved with, all seven have seen the line move and all seven have moved in favor of their opponent.
What Kornegay was too modest to say is that the LVH's oddsmakers are pretty confident in their numbers and will stick with them until money is significant enough to force them to adjust. Of the 80 games on their NFL GOY list, 29 -- more than a third at 36.25 percent -- haven't budged at all. Only three have moved as much as two points, including the first game on the list, where the Patriots host the Jets on Sept. 12. The Patriots opened as a 12-point favorite, but now that's down to 10 (the full move came June 24, two days before Hernandez's arrest -- and release by the Patriots -- June 26).
So here are the top 10 marquee games of the NFL season with my analysis for each.
Note: While I give my "Tuley's Take" on each matchup, I certainly reserve the right to change my mind when the games roll around. For advance games where I had stronger opinions, see my ESPN Insider article from May.
Sunday, Sept. 15
Denver Broncos at New York Giants
Opening Line: Broncos minus-1
Current Line: Broncos minus-2
When Peyton Manning left Indianapolis last year, we heard that he wanted to stay in the AFC so it would be less likely that the Manning brothers would have to battle each other (unless they were to meet in the Super Bowl). But here they meet in the second game of Peyton's second season in Denver. Peyton is 2-0 straight-up and against the spread against his younger brother with a 26-21 win (as 3-point road favorite) in the Meadowlands in the 2006 opener and a 38-14 win (as a 4.5-point home favorite) in Indy in 2010.