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Siding with ‘under’ often pays early dividends

An interesting dynamic always exists in NFL wagering, and a general overview of Week 1 line movements provides a trend that is found virtually every year.

These games have been on the betting board since late July. Professionals generally bet early and are looking to play the underdog and under the total. Leading up to kickoff today, look for the numbers to move toward the favorite and over the total — a combination the general public loves to support.

And those facts are not lost on the oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants.

“Our send-out totals averaged 42.93 points for opening week. Generally speaking, we will shade the totals down around two full points,” LVSC oddsmaker Mike Seba said. “Some years it seems as though we can’t drop the numbers low enough.”

Eleven of the 16 totals indeed have moved in that direction.

A look back to last year’s first week of NFL games shows that “favorite” bettors and “under” players were rewarded. The results: Favorites went 10-5-1, and 11 of 16 games went under the total.

The superlatives attached to last season’s New England Patriots were unprecedented. The Patriots were proclaimed by many to be the best team of all time only a month into the regular season. The oddsmakers were on board, as well. From a historic perspective, New England’s power ratings and accompanying spreads were through the roof and, frankly, not high enough for the first half of the season.

We all know how the story ended, as the New York Giants spoiled the Patriots’ bid for perfection in the Super Bowl.

What we’re wondering now is how do the Patriots respond? Their season win total is listed at 121/2, and they are 16-point home favorites today against the Kansas City Chiefs, as questions are circling about quarterback Tom Brady’s health.

Seba and LVSC oddsmaker Sean Van Patten have the Patriots three and four points better, respectively, than the best of the rest — San Diego, Dallas and Indianapolis.

“They are again clearly the best, but not as good as they were at their peak last season,” Seba said.

Van Patten anticipates new blood will step to the forefront in the AFC.

“I’m looking for a shift of power in the conference, with San Diego and Jacksonville the two teams I think can get it done at New England’s expense,” he said.

The major line moves for Week 1 include Cincinnati at Baltimore and Dallas at Cleveland.

The Ravens were sent out as 1-point favorites, but the Bengals are 2-point favorites with the news that Baltimore rookie Joe Flacco will start at quarterback and running back Willis McGahee is nicked up.

The Cowboys have ballooned from 3- to 51/2-point favorites over the Browns.

“This is a situation where there is a decided lack of confidence in the Browns defense, which was abysmal throughout the preseason,” Seba said.

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and wideout Terrell Owens certainly will test Cleveland’s defense in what should be an entertaining game.

Brian Blessing, project manager for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, can be reached at bblessing@lvsc.com. Listen to the LVSC oddsmakers on Sportsbook Radio, weekdays at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio (920 AM). Visit vegassportsconnect.com for more odds information.

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