Four days a week, I am in charge of the largest slot operation in Western Canada. From 8 pm until 4 am, I oversee gaming activity on the floor, enforce regulations, prevent money laundering and adhere to any issues with machines.
Working at night has had a significant impact on my life. I have little time to go out, participate in sport or spend time with friends. Finding time to spend with my wife has become challenging enough.
The job has had an enormous impact on my handicapping too. All of my NFL work gets done between 4:30 am and 9 am each day. A significant change from continuous work I put in throughout each day in seasons past.
For the first time, I am betting on the NFL (for the most part) without context. I am operating at a self-sufficient level. Anything I hear that is public is too late to act on, and every position I make occurs in a dead zone when the market is not moving.
It is an oddly empowering feeling to work by yourself in the glow of neon lights.
Being a successful bettor in the NFL is about being a good listener. Every bettor has a strong opinion and shares an equal passion about the league. The NFL one sport where the recreational bettors have influence in the market because of the great volume they provide bookmakers.
This week I have come home at 4:30 am each night and turned on my computer to listen to bettors and media personalities say one of two things.
1.) Kansas City is the best team in football.
2.) Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh are finished.
The level-headed oddsmakers in Las Vegas opened Kansas City as a 4 point favourite. Strip away home field advantage (3 points for Arrowhead), and oddsmakers are suggesting the most praised team in the media is just 1 point better than the team taking a verbal stomping.
Telling, isn’t it?
My take on the game is simple. The Kansas City defense is exactly what Pittsburgh needs right now.
Pittsburgh desperately needs to rebuild confidence on offense. The way they will do this is by avoiding their weaknesses this season. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has done two critical things wrong so far. He has called pass plays too frequently and put too much emphasis on the deep ball. Instead of 55 pass attempts and numerous attempts over 20 yards, Pittsburgh needs an equal balance of run and pass and short 3 to 7-yard targets.
Kansas City happens to struggle mightily with those two things. The Chiefs rank among the worst at defending the rush and allow near league-high completion percentages and passer ratings on targets against their linebackers over the short middle.
Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown grade out the best at their positions through five weeks. These two guys are dying to take over a game and are having no hesitation expressing their feelings. Others may interpret their comments this week as dysfunction. I take it as two elite athletes ready to explode.
Mike Tomlin cannot screw this game plan up. It is too obvious.
Bettors continue to pile on Kansas City, and they are becoming a growing liability for bookmakers. Margins tell a big story in games that produce this size of betting handle.
Only the highest of high margin bookmakers – which cater exclusively to recreational bettors – have moved to Kansas City -5 or greater this week. The low margin bookmakers – which cater mainly to influential bettors – have held steady at Pittsburgh -4 or -4.5 this week.
The opening odds were very telling to me, but the market movement (or lack thereof) is even more so.
I do not believe the stock price of Pittsburgh will be as low as it is this week, nor do I think the price of Kansas City will be this high. I love this buy low sell high spots, especially when I can back a team as talented as Pittsburgh.
I cashed in Cincinnati in a similar buy-low spot last week and will do the same with Pittsburgh + 4 1/2 on Sunday.
Week Six Bets:
Pittsburgh Steelers +4.5