Betting bullets – Oddsmakers grapple with Aaron Rodgers, DeShaun Watson uncertainty

It’s three months before the NFL season, and the status of two marquee quarterbacks remains uncertain. But despite the question marks surrounding Aaron Rodgers and DeShaun Watson, oddsmakers at the SuperBook in Las Vegas have posted point spreads and totals for every NFL game.

The SuperBook opened the Green Bay Packers as underdogs in seven of their 17 regular-season games, including Week 1 at New Orleans. The line on the Cleveland-Green Bay game on Dec. 25 opened as a pick ’em. Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay. The Packers, who have reached the NFC Championship Game the past two seasons, insist they want the reigning MVP back.

“Our numbers reflect us believing the likelihood is that Rodgers is going to be in Green Bay this season,” John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook in Las Vegas, said. “I don’t know what other approach you can take at this point.”

The SuperBook opened the Houston Texans as underdogs in every game, and Murray said those numbers reflect Tyrod Taylor, not Watson, as Houston’s starting quarterback. Watson, who had previously asked to be traded from the Texans, is the subject of more than 20 lawsuits centered on allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to sexual assault.

“It would be hard to say that they’re not the worst team in the league right now, if they don’t have DeShaun Watson under center,” Murray said.

Here are the opening lines and totals from the SuperBook for every Packers and Texans games this season, followed by a look at which games attracted the most early interest from bettors in this week’s Betting Bullets:

Packers opening lines

Week 1: Packers at Saints (-3, 50.5)
Week 2: Lions at Packers (-7.5, 47.5)
Week 3: Packers at 49ers (-5, 44.5)

Week 4: Steelers at Packers (-2.5, 46.5)
Week 5: Packers (-3, 47.5) at Bengals
Week 6: Packers (-2.5, 46) at Bears
Week 7: Washington at Packers (-4. 46.5)
Week 8: Packers at Cardinals (-3, 49)
Week 9: Packers at Chiefs (-7, 52.5)
Week 10: Seahawks at Packers (-3, 49.5)
Week 11: Packers at Vikings (-3, 47)
Week 12: Rams (-1, 45.5) at Packers
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: Bears at Packers (-5.5, 45.5)
Week 15: Packers at Ravens (-5.5, 47)
Week 16: Browns at Packers (PK, 45)
Week 17: Vikings at Packers (-3, 42.5)
Week 18: Packers (-3.5, 46.5) at Lions

Texans opening lines

Week 1: Jaguars (-3, 45.5) at Texans
Week 2: Texans at Browns (-13.5, 46)
Week 3: Panthers (-4, 44.5) at Texans
Week 4: Texans at Bills (-14, 49.5)
Week 5: Patriots (-6, 46.4) at Texans
Week 6: Texans at Colts (-11.5, 48)
Week 7: Texans at Cardinals (-10.5, 49)
Week 8: Rams (-8.5, 47) at Texans
Week 9: Texans at Dolphins (-7.5, 46.5)
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Texans at Titans (-8.5, 50)
Week 12: Jets (-1, 47) at Texans
Week 13: Colts (-7, 49) at Texans
Week 14: Seahawks (-7, 48.5) at Texans
Week 15: Texans at Jaguars (-4, 46)
Week 16: Chargers (-4.5, 47) at Texans
Week 17: Texans at 49ers (-13.5, 46)
Week 18: Titans (-6, 47) at Texans


NFL notes

• The Week 2 matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals attracted the most early limit bets ($2,000) at the SuperBook. The Cardinals opened as 3.5-point favorites but were bet down to -3.

The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins Week 2 game also attracted multiple limit bets. Bettors took the home underdog Dolphins at +3.5, dropping the line down to +3.

• “To me, Kansas City is the best team in the league, just a little bit ahead of the Buccaneers. Baltimore is a team that plays to a pretty high power rating, too,” Murray said. “They have to be third behind Kansas City and Tampa Bay.”

The Ravens host the Chiefs in Week 2. The line opened at pick ’em at the SuperBook.

• The Dallas Cowboys-Chiefs game in Week 11 opened with the highest total at 55.


NBA update

Suns rising: An NBA series routinely features fluctuating odds and unexpected storylines, but the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns have provided extreme volatility. It starts with the defending champs entering the postseason as the 7-seed but representing enormous liability for sportsbooks. That is why they opened as -300 favorites to advance past Phoenix but that moneyline dropped to about -170 even before the first game. The house just wanted to lay off some of their championship exposure.

After Phoenix held serve in Game 1, the series price dropped to -110. Additionally, after closing as a 2.5-point underdog in the series opener, the Lakers closed as 2-point favorites without a change in site or personnel. The Lakers bounced back to even the series in a game that saw Chris Paul bruise his right shoulder. The Lakers then dominated Game 3 and the series price rose to -900 in favor of Los Angeles. However, following a home loss while Anthony Davis suffered a groin injury, the Lakers are now +150 underdogs in the series.

“They go from -900 to an underdog in one game. You just don’t see that happen (often),” Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told ESPN.

To put that in perspective, that would be comparable to the Brooklyn Nets losing at home on Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics, evening the series at 2-2. The Nets would still be favored.

Semifinal showdown: The Nets (-12) are expected to finish off the Celtics in Tuesday’s night Game 5, setting up a monster matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The star power alone is worthy of the NBA Finals, featuring three players who have won a combined four NBA MVP trophies. In terms of a series price, given the home-court advantage, the Nets are projected around a -200 favorite.

“Anything less than -200, the public would be looking to support the Nets. When people see the Nets short of 200, they will get involved. But I think the wise guys will be on the Bucks side,” Sherman said.

Road sweet road: In a strange twist, the road team has won the first four games of the series between the Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers. As you would imagine, the series price has fluctuated drastically. Headed home with a 2-0 series lead, Dallas was a -280 favorite, yet the Clippers were road favorites in Game 3. Naturally, the Clips showed some fight and won the next two games.

“You attribute it to Luka Doncic, and this team goes as he goes,” Sherman said. “It’s going to be a tough go winning two of the next three. It’s so much to ask. Most contenders have three superstars, and the Lakers really need both of theirs, but Dallas only has one.”

Doncic was visibly bothered during Game 4, nursing a nerve issue in the neck area.

The Clips are now -400 series favorites, having regained home-court advantage, although that term may not apply here.


Odds & ends

• On Thursday, an unidentified customer with the sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey placed a $335,000 bet on the Lakers to beat the Suns in their first-round playoff series at -335 odds. If the Lakers prevail, the bettor would win a net $100,000. The series is tied 2-2 heading into Tuesday’s Game 5.

• Nevada Gaming Control released its April revenue report last week. Here are the state casinos’ net win for the month:

Blackjack: $70.2 million
Craps: $28.1 million
Roulette: $32.4 million
Baccarat: $29.4 million
Sports: $27.2 million
Penny slots: $340.8 million

Futures graded: With almost all significant sports storylines, there is a domino effect in the betting world. U.S. tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open, one day after she was fined and threatened with harsher sanctions for skipping her mandatory media obligations. According to a statement, her actions stem from a struggle with anxiety and depression, which are accentuated by public speaking.

Osaka entered the tourney tied as the third-favorite with 10-1 odds. Since she stepped onto the court and played, bettors with futures are unfortunately stuck with losing tickets. That’s the policy of nearly all sportsbooks. If the 23-year-old withdrew before playing, then most sportsbooks would refund the wagers.

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