The halfway point of the NFL season has come and gone. We're now firmly in the second half of the regular season. It's been a bizarre past few weeks. Who's the best team in football? Is anyone actually as good as we thought? Which of these middling AFC teams is worth anything? Which under .500 NFC team will make a push for the bottom playoff spots? This is why we love this league and this sport.
If you're an underdog bettor, you've had a fun start to the NFL season. However, early in the week, we've seen some line movement in the direction of some favorites for Week 11. Which games have betting odds that are on the move, and what does it mean?
Chargers appear to be a steam play
A steam play is when one side takes action, the line moves, and then the same side keeps taking action and the line keeps moving. It all happens quickly and the line movement is noticeable. The Chargers definitely appear to be a steam play this weekend.
Los Angeles opened as a 3.5-point favorite when lines were released on Sunday. Currently, the Chargers are favored by 5.5 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The quarterback situation for the Steelers is still unknown as Ben Roethlisberger attempts to return after testing positive for COVID-19 last weekend. Personally, I'd like to apologize to Roethlisberger. This Steelers' offense is bad with him, but it can in fact be much uglier without him as we saw last weekend.
The Chargers remain in the thick of things in both the AFC West and the AFC wild-card race. You'd have to think that a presumed smart coach like Brandon Staley can self-reflect and realize that he needs to be more aggressive both in his decision-making and his play-calling. The Chargers have been an up-and-down roller coaster this season. If they perform well, the Steelers will have a hard time keeping up no matter who plays quarterback.
Patriots getting love on Thursday night
Unsurprisingly, the betting market favors the New England Patriots on Thursday night over the Atlanta Falcons. New England is currently a 6.5-point favorite on Thursday night after it opened as just a 5.5-point favorite.
New England is coming off a 45-7 win over the Cleveland Browns in a game where the defense was relentless, the rushing attack was unstoppable, and Mac Jones was nearly perfect. On the other side, the Atlanta Falcons lost 43-3 to the Dallas Cowboys.
It's worth noting that this spread reached 7 points a few times already this week but it immediately came back down under the full touchdown. There seems to be resistance and potential buy-back on the Falcons at that price.
I too would tread carefully. My senses are definitely tingling when I see a winning team coming off a 38-point win laying less than a touchdown in a prime-time spot against a losing team coming off a 40-point loss. Maybe it's free money, but it rarely is.
New belief in the Panthers?
Addition by subtraction is a thing. So is addition by addition. Both might be at play for the Carolina Panthers.
It's easy to forget that Carolina opened the season with a 3-0 record when Sam Darnold was providing competent, NFL-level quarterback play. Then, Darnold reverted to his old Jets form and the Panthers fell apart, losing five of their next six games.
Darnold was then injured, and last week the team turned to P.J. Walker. The Panthers also bought in Cam Newton, who is expected to start this weekend. Christian McCaffrey has also returned from injury. Carolina then beat the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Do all of these changes instill a new belief in the Panthers? Carolina is currently a 3.5-point favorite over the Washington Football Team. The line opened with the Panthers just 2.5-point favorites. The movement through the key number of three is noteworthy.
Washington is coming off their own impressive performance, defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. Which of these teams will capture the momentum from last weekend? The betting market is siding with Carolina.
Other notable moves
Are we starting to question the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? After back-to-back losses by the defending champions, the line has moved against them this week. The Buccaneers are now 10.5-point favorites against the Giants after the line opened with Tampa Bay giving 11.5 points.
Are the Kansas City Chiefs back? After opening as just a 1-point favorite against Dallas, the current line sits with the Chiefs as 2.5-point favorites.
The line for the Bears-Ravens game opened at 6.5 points and I was extremely interested to see which way it would move as arguments could be made for both sides. Currently, the Bears are down to just 6-point underdogs.
Baker Mayfield says he's never been more beat up in his career, and the total for Detroit-Cleveland is down two points since opening, currently sitting at 44.5 points.
San Francisco's defense dominated Los Angeles on Monday night, and the total for 49ers-Jaguars is down as the market reacts to that performance. After opening with a total of 47, the total for this game now sits at 45.5 points.