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October 20, 2017

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NFL betting guide: AFC North and AFC South


Steve Marcus / Las Vegas Sun

A view inside the race and sports book in Aria Monday, December 14, 2009. The sports book and Skybox Bar & Grill boast more than 90 video monitors.

Note: will run betting previews for all 32 NFL teams. They’ll be broken up by division with a prominent Las Vegas oddsmaker offering his input. Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Betting counters at local sports books are probably the only places in America populated by NFL fans who aren’t talking about the Indianapolis Colts and injured quarterback Peyton Manning.

Bettors have barely uttered “Colts” anywhere near a ticket puncher. With the uncertainty surrounding Manning’s neck injury, which has the four-time NFL MVP out indefinitely, sports books are witnessing an extreme drop off in money on Indianapolis this season.

For nearly a decade, Indianapolis has attracted more future action than almost any other team in the league. That run has ended.

“We’re not getting any speculation on the Colts,” said Jay Rood, MGM sports book director. “For the first week, it’s pretty much been all Texans money at this point.”

Indianapolis opened as high as a one-point favorite for its game at Houston Sunday. The line moved to favor the Texans by three as the Manning situation got murkier.

After receiving confirmation of his absence earlier this week, sports books installed Houston as eight-point favorites.

And they still can’t get any money on the Colts. The opposite is true of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bettors have willingly lined up to bet on big things from the Steelers this year. They are down to as low as a one-point underdog in their game at AFC North division rival Baltimore Ravens Sunday.

Click through below for a betting breakdown of the Colts, Steelers and their two divisions.

    • NFL Betting Preview: Houston Texans

      Houston Texans

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 6-10 (6-10 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 25-to-1

      Over/under win total: 9 (over -150, under +130)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Favored in nine of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: "They have been a popular pick this year. They have steadily come down in the futures and to win the Super Bowl. They should certainly make the playoffs, but to take that next step is certainly more difficult with the likes of the Steelers, Patriots, Jets, Ravens and Chargers in front of you."

      Overview: Houston's odds to win the Super Bowl have dropped a full 15-to-20 points since they were first posted. It's not difficult to see why the Texans are garnering so much respect. Although they were a 6-10 team last year, it was mainly because of one awful unit — the defensive backfield. They upgraded significantly after the lockout with the additions of cornerback Jonathan Joseph and safety Danieal Manning for new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to work with. Houston faces a brutal opening schedule, however, as its an underdog in five of its first seven games.

    • NFL Betting Preview: Indianapolis Colts

      Indianapolis Colts

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 10-6-1 (10-7 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 35-to-1

      Over/under win total: N/A (off the board because of Peyton Manning injury)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Favored in 12 of 16 games (Compiled before the announcement of Manning missing indefinite time)

      Rood’s thoughts: "This is the year the Colts are going to struggle if they don’t have their general back there rallying the troops. It can get amplified pretty seriously pretty quickly. I don’t think anyone can imagine they'll walk away with the division the way they have the few years.”

      Overview: The Colts can kiss their days as a favorite of Las Vegas bettors goodbye with the start of this season. It was Manning, of course, who commanded the action and not the franchise. The public won't have near the same level of confidence in Kerry Collins, who stepped out of retirement to take Indianapolis' quarterback spot. And history would indicate they shouldn't. Collins is only 6-10 against-the-spread in his last 16 games — nearly the exact opposite of Manning's mark over the same span.

    • NFL Betting Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

      Jacksonville Jaguars

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 9-7 (8-8 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 100-to-1

      Over/under win total: 6.5 (over Even, under -120)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Underdog in 12 of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: "They are one of the least-backed teams and it’s been that way year after year. It would be a wonderful thing if Jacksonville ever got to the Super Bowl because they are ignored until they do something. I’m looking at it right now and they are by far the least wagered on team on the board.”

      Overview: The Jaguars lack of action, especially in future bets, is probably because of their smaller fan base. If they fail to get support in Jacksonville, where Sunday's opener against Tennessee is likely to be blacked out because of poor ticket sales, why would they in Las Vegas? It could also have to do with their historically terrible performance against-the-spread in the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Although they bounced back to post a winning mark against the number last year, the Jaguars went a league-worst 9-23 combined the two seasons before.

    • NFL Betting Preview: Tennessee Titans

      Tennessee Titans

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 8-8 (6-10 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 100-to-1

      Over/under win total: 6.5 (over -120, under Even)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Underdog in 11 of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: "The Titans are in that bottom group. But in years past, the Titans have been a popular team and rightfully so. Jeff Fisher always put a good product on the field despite the quarterback problems they’ve had. He always had that team going in the right direction or right on the cusp.”

      Overview: If bettors felt a connection with Fisher like Rood suggested, they're bound to forget about the Titans all together with Mike Munchak at the helm. Munchak has no experience as a head coach or coordinator on any level, which should hint at an adjustment period to start the season. It could be random, but Tennessee has been a streaky team against-the-spread in recent seasons. Over the past three years, the Titans have gone on five stretches whether they either covered or failed to cover in at least four consecutive games.

    • NFL Betting Preview: Baltimore Ravens

      Baltimore Ravens

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 8-8-1 (12-5 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 15-to-1

      Over/under win total: 10 (over -120, under Even)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Favored in 14 of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: "The Ravens became a popular play last year, people liked them to do really well. They took a small step forward last year, but they don’t have that huge popularity that some other teams do on the board do.”

      Overview: Indicators point both ways for Baltimore this season. While the schedule gets easier and it could benefit from the addition of a deep threat like Lee Evans, Baltimore's defense is aging and its running game regressed last year. The Ravens are favored in seven of their first eight games. The exception predictably comes in a contest against the Steelers on the road. Pittsburgh is 4-2-1 against-the-spread against Baltimore the last three seasons. The only two times Baltimore covered, in fact, came when Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was out of the lineup.

    • NFL Betting Preivew: Cincinnati Bengals

      Cincinnati Bengals

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 7-9 (4-12 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 200-to-1

      Over/under win total: 5.5 (over +130, under -150)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Underdog in 13 of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: “It’s hard to believe a couple years ago they were playing well and looked to be headed in the right direction. I wouldn’t be surprised with anything this year — if they came out and won eight games or if they won two.”

      Overview: Cincinnati's win total plummeted down as fast as a paper airplane last month. Sports books opened the Bengals win total as high as 7.5, which prompted large wagers on the under. Bettors would likely find backing the Bengals easier if quarterback Carson Palmer came out of his retirement to rejoin the team, despite the fact that he looked dreadful at times last year. Rookie Andy Dalton has shown flashes in the preseason, but the public hates backing first-year signal callers. The Bengals offense might lean on the rushing ability of Cedric Benson, one of the more underrated running backs in the league, if Dalton struggles.

    • NFL Betting Preivew: Cleveland Browns

      Cleveland Browns

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 5-11 (5-11 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 60-to-1

      Over/under win total: 7 (over -110, under -110)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Underdog in 10 of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: “These are the types of teams bookmakers embrace. It’s getting to the point where, for instance, the Patriots will be 12.5-point favorites against the Browns with all the money. The last couple years, I’ve felt like I had a great shot. But a couple years before that, when the Patriots were smoking everybody, before the game you’re dreading how fast the game will get out of hand.”

      Overview: The Browns haven't blown anyone away with their performance versus the number recently. They ended last season on a four-game against-the-spread slide. Similar results came out of this preseason, where Cleveland went 1-3. But Rood and other oddsmakers around town have their reasons for thinking the Browns will come in handy and knock off some heavily-bet powerhouses this season. Cleveland has a young quarterback, Colt McCoy, who fits perfectly with the west coast offense implemented by new coach Pat Shurmur. The Browns are also expected to improve on defense behind second-year defensive backs Joe Haden and T.J. Ward.

    • NFL Betting Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

      Pittsburgh Steelers

      2010 Against-the-spread record: 12-6 (13-5 straight)

      Odds to win the Super Bowl: 8-to-1

      Over/under win total: 10.5 (over -115, under -105)

      Cantor Gaming’s full season lines: Favored in 14 of 16 games

      Rood’s thoughts: "They're a popular team regardless of their outlook. The last few years they've been in the mix, but they get a lot of backing either way. It's same thing as how it doesn't matter where the Steelers go, whatever stadium, you are going to see their jerseys everywhere."

      Overview: Sports books are experiencing even more Steelers mania than usual in the build-up to this season. Coming off of its third Super Bowl appearance in six years, Pittsburgh is unanimously one of the five most likely teams to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this season. One trap to watch out for when betting Steelers games is their reputation for getting into defensive slug fests. Although the defense is always among the best in the league, Pittsburgh has scored a fair amount of points with Ben Roethlisberger under center. In the past five years, 49 of their games have gone over the total as opposed to only 33 under.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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