Time for our weekly visit from sportsbook.com's Dave Staley:
Q: What do you make of this week’s Eagles-Bucs line and over/under?
A: We opened the line for the Eagles game Wednesday morning. Right now the Birds are giving a whopping 15 points to the winless Buccaneers. The first thing I always look for when the lines come out every week are which teams will be getting double digit points. So, this game along with the Giants giving up 15 are the lines that jump off the page. However, after looking into this one a bit more, it is obvious why the Bucs are getting so many points. They have really only been competitive in one game so far, last week against a bad Redskins team. In their other three, they suffered double digit losses, with a point differential of 16.7 points per game. They have thrown for a total of 158 yards in their last two games and could be in for another long day in the air as the Eagles have the second stingiest pass defense in the league, allowing just 156 yards per game. Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook are back so the Eagles' offense should be back at full strength even though it was quite impressive without them two weeks ago. McNabb, Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, etc. That’s a lot of weapons on the field against a Tampa team giving up 26.7 points per game. I think Michael Vick will actually make an impact this week. Finally, you can’t ignore how important bye weeks are for teams. Look no further then the fact that the Eagles are 16-6 against the spread in their last 22 games following a bye week -- very impressive indeed. The early bettors obviously agree because after checking our trends page, 76 percent of the early action is on the Birds.
Currently, the over/under sits at 43 with 73 percent of the early bettors on the over. This is a pretty standard total as far as points are concerned. Obviously, as mentioned above, the Eagles shouldn’t have a problem putting points on the board, but will the Bucs do their part? They are only averaging 13.5 points per game so far this season, including just 13 in the past two weeks combined. I really don’t know how they are going to move the ball against the Eagles' defense, which yields only 262 yards per game. A couple of trends support the under in this one. In their last six games against the NFC East, the Bucs covered the under five times. In their last 22 games following a bye week, the Eagles covered the ‘under’ 18 times.
Q: What is the most intriguing line of the weekend?
A: A game which we are expecting a lot of action on is the Falcons (+2.5) vs. the 49ers. I’m a little surprised that this one isn’t San Fran (-3). The difference is only half-a-point, but any time a spread is 3 1/2 or 2 1/2, that extra 1/2 point is a big deal considering so many games fall on three. The Falcons are also coming off their bye, but their bye numbers aren’t anything like the Eagles'. In their last 21 games after a bye, they covered 10 times. I’m also surprised the Vikings are just giving 9.5 points to the lowly Rams. I fully expected this one to be in double digits, and I still think it will move in that direction. If you like the Vikings, get on this one before it moves to 10 or higher, especially considering 10 is a very key number in wagering. If you like the Rams, you might as well wait to see if you can get an extra half point or more. So far, 99 percent of the early action is on the Vikings. I have a feeling this game will have the most lopsided action of the weekend, especially if it doesn’t go to double digits.
Q: What were some of the major gambling story lines from Week 4?
A: Well, since we were on our own ‘bye’ week last week, I have to mention that in Week 3, the NFL bettors made out like bandits. They were on the winning side of just about every NFL game. To add insult to injury, someone won the $100,000 Perfect Parlay. The guy went 16 for 16 en route to a six-figure payday. The look on my boss’ face was priceless when we informed him. I knew this thing was way overdue to hit. I had the opportunity to speak with him; he planned on paying off his college loans, taking out his mother for her birthday and buying a new putter. Congrats againto Andrew M. from California.
As far as this past weekend, Sunday we pretty much broke even with the gamblers, but Monday night the public won big again as they sided with the Vikings and the over by a pretty big margin. Of course, the MLB Playoffs are under way. The betting public had a huge win as the Phils took down the Rockies in Game 1.
If you're in full Phillies mode, here's a video recap of Game 1. I think I should have smiled more.