Reverse Line Movement and Fishy Lines for NFL Week 17
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
The winner of this game still has a shot at the NFC East division title. Washington has to lose for one of these teams to get in; however, it is one of the few games that has meaning this week. According to numberFire, 81% of the bets are on the Cowboys. The line has moved against Dallas, signaling reverse contrarian line movement. The spread was around Cowboys -2.5 or -3 earlier this week. Thursday, the line was at Dallas -1 — the sharp side looks like Big Blue. As for the total, respected money appears to be on the under. With 73% of bets on the over, the total dropped from 47.5 to 44.5.
One word can describe this game — rain. With a 77% chance of precipitation on Sunday, these two sub-.500 teams could rely on the run. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it’s the best part of the Giants game, ranking 11th, allowing 111.6 rushing yards/game to opponents. Fortunately for the Giants, they’re up against the worst run defense in the league. The Cowboys allow a league-low 161.1 yards on the ground per game. The last three weeks have been rough on the Giants. Big Blue has averaged 68.7 rushing yards/game in the last three weeks with two matchups against top 15 run defenses. Wayne Gallman has potential to go off against a bad run defense. He rushed for 135 yards on 16 carries against the Seahawks on Dec. 6. The week prior against Cincinnati, Gallman had 94 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has been dealing with ankle and hamstring injuries in opposite legs. If he can stay on the field, limit turnovers and manage the clock well, the Giants have a chance to maintain control of this game. Also, with it being run-heavy in the rain, that could be the explanation for the total dropping.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
After the Steelers beat the Colts last week, they clinched the AFC North and can’t drop further than the three-seed in the conference. The Steelers have decided to bench starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey amongst a few others for this game.
The spread is fishy. The Browns were -3.5 on the look-ahead line. Cleveland has since moved to as high as -9.5 on the FanDuel Sportsbook. Only 31% of the bets are willing to lay the points with Cleveland, and the line keeps moving in their favor. It dropped to -8.5 with the announcement of three positive COVID-19 tests shutting down the Browns facility for two days. Otherwise, we’ve continued to watch this line move in Cleveland’s direction all week.
It makes sense since the Browns are the team with the incentive. If the Browns lose, they could be out of the playoffs despite their 10-5 record. When Mason Rudolph started at quarterback for the Steelers last year, the Browns won 21-7. Rudolph went 23/44 for 221 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. The leading receiver for Pittsburgh was James Washington with three receptions for 49 yards. If the Steelers struggle to get the passing game going, they really have no offense. Pittsburgh’s run game is the worst in the league, averaging 84.4 rushing yards/game. I see why the money is backing the Browns, but it’s still an AFC North rivalry game and a revenge spot for the Rudolph-Myles Garrett helmet debacle. I am staying far away from this one.