Think you can be an oddsmaker? Try it on for size, then get back to me.
Oddsmakers have the difficult task of trying to balance the money that will come in on each side of a game. Remember, a point-spread isn't how much better X team is than Y team. Ideally, it's a number that will make 50 percent of the money come in on one side and 50 percent on the other.
Note that the previous sentence said MONEY, not BETS. Oddsmakers are up against sharp, professional bettors that place huge sums of money on games. It could take 1,000 or more squares betting $50 or $100 to equal what one pro bets on a game. That's why we see lines that look "shady" to the public.
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Anyway, let's get to the Week 13 games. This is what I think the line SHOULD be, based on power ratings I've developed. At the bottom, I'll list what the line actually is:
Eagles at Seahawks -- Philly by 2. Short week after their season was ended, there's little reason to think the messy Birds will be up for this one.
Raiders at Dolphins -- Miami by 3. The Dolphins are playing about as well as anyone right now.
Jets at Redskins -- Jets by 3. Washington is still playing hard despite their record.
Falcons at Texans -- Texans by 3. This line would be closer to seven if T.J. Yates wasn't starting for Houston.
Chiefs at Bears -- Chicago by 9. Kyle Orton is expected to get the nod for the Chiefs, giving them some hope.
Broncos at Vikings -- Broncos by 3. This line will move based on Adrian Peterson's availability.
Titans at Bills -- Bills by 2. The wheels have come off in Buffalo.
Bengals at Steelers -- Pittsburgh by 7. Troy Polamalu's status could end up being a difference-maker here.
Colts at Patriots -- New England by 20. Yeah, 20.
Panthers at Bucs -- Tampa by 5. As bad as the Panthers have been, they've kept virtually every game close.
Ravens at Browns -- Baltimore by 9. Ravens have a long week to get ready for this one.
Packers at Giants -- Packers by 5. Giants will be on a short week after playing on MNF while Packers have been off since Thursday.
Cowboys at Cardinals -- Dallas by 7. Don't get fooled by the Cardinals rolling up wins on St. Louis.
Rams at 49ers -- 49ers by 12. The Rams may be the worst team in the league outside of the Colts.
Lions at Saints -- Saints by 6. The public was on Detroit as a dog last week. Never a good thing.
Chargers at Jaguars -- San Diego by 2. Don't sleep on the Jags defense.
ACTUAL MONDAY LINES
I'll be back later in the week with how we can use those projections to make bets.