NFL, college football betting market watch: Line movement, early action and bookmaker insights

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Here is our weekly look at how the NFL and college football betting markets are shaping up leading into the weekend.

For consistency, lines, totals and betting percentages are from Caesars Sportsbook, unless otherwise noted. The betting percentages are not specific to the current line or total and are designed to provide a snapshot of the early action. The look-ahead lines were offered in advance of the previous week's games. Most numbers were re-opened Sunday night.


NFL market watch

Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns (Thursday)

Last week's look-ahead line: Browns -6, 44.5
Sunday opener: Browns -5, 44
Wednesday: Browns -2, 41
Spread action: 57% of the bets are on the Browns, but 93% of the money wagered is on the Broncos.
Total action: 61% of the bets are on the over, but 71% of the money wagered is on the under.

Note: Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield (shoulder) was ruled out Wednesday. Backup Case Keenum will get the start for the Broncos. The line dropped from -3.5 to -2 after the Mayfield news. If the line holds with Cleveland as the favorite, this will be first time this season that Denver will be an underdog. Caesars Sportsbook reported a $500,000 bet on the Broncos +4, leading to the lopsided betting splits.

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants

Last week's look-ahead line: Panthers -3, 44.5
Sunday opener: Panthers -2.5, 44
Wednesday: Panthers -3 (even), 43
Spread action: 87% of the bets and 88% of the money wagered is on Panthers.
Total action: 56% of the bets are on the over, but 97% of the money wagered is on the under.

Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins

Last week's look-ahead line: Dolphins -2.5, 47.5
Sunday opener: Pick 'em, 48
Wednesday: Falcons -2.5, 48
Spread action: 56% of the bets and 76% of the money wagered is on the Falcons.
Total action: 58% of the bets are on the under, but 76% of the money wagered is on the over.

New York Jets at New England Patriots

Last week's look-ahead line: Patriots -7, 43.5
Sunday opener: Patriots -6.5, 43
Wednesday: Patriots -7, 42.5
Spread action: 92% of the bets and 97% of the money wagered is on the Patriots.
Total action: 56% of the bets is on the over, but 57% of the money wagered is on the under.

Note: The Patriots are shaping up as a major liability for sportsbooks this week. At BetRivers sportsbooks, more bets have been placed on New England minus the points than have been placed on any other team. The action is similarly lopsided at DraftKings.

Washington Football Team at Green Bay Packers

Last week's look-ahead line: Packers -7.5, 50
Sunday opener: Packers -10, 49
Wednesday: Packers -9, 49
Spread action: 74% of the bets and 61% of the money wagered is on the Packers.
Total action: 50% of the bets and 55% of the money wagered in on the over.

Note: Bettors were laying the big money line price on the Packers (-420) at BetRivers sportsbooks, where Green Bay had attracted more money line bets than any other team.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

Last week's look-ahead line: Ravens -6, 48.5
Sunday opener: Ravens -6.5, 47.5
Wednesday: Ravens -6, 47
Spread action: 71% of the bets are on the Ravens, but 52% of the money wagered is on the Bengals.
Total action: 88% of bets and 90% of money wagered is on the over.

Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans

Last week's look-ahead line: Chiefs -3, 56.5
Sunday opener: Chiefs -4.5, 56.5
Wednesday: Chiefs -5.5, 57
Spread action: 55% of the bets and 74% of the money wagered is on the Chiefs.
Total action: 71% of the bets and 87% of the money wagered is on the over.

Note: The Chiefs and Buccaneers are the only two teams that have been favored in every game

Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Rams

Last week's look-ahead line: Rams -13.5, 49.5
Sunday opener: Rams -15.5, 50
Wednesday: Rams -15, 50
Spread action: 75% of the bets and 50% of the money wagered is on the Rams.
Total action: 55% of the bets are on the under, but 53% is on the over.

Philadelphia Eagles at Las Vegas Raiders

Last week's look-ahead line: Raiders -2.5, 48
Sunday opener: Raiders -3, 48
Wednesday: Raiders -3, 49
Spread action: 74% of the bets and 94% of the money wagered is on the Raiders.
Total action: 68% of the bets and 98% of the money wagered is on the over.

Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals

Last week's look-ahead line: Cardinals -14, 49.5
Sunday opener: Cardinals -17, 48
Wednesday: Cardinals -18.5, 47.5
Spread action: 68% of the bets and 99% of the money wagered is on the Cardinals.
Total action: 69% of the bets are on the over, but 61% of the money wagered is on the under.

Note: Caesars Sportsbook reported taking a $520,000 bet on the Cardinals -17, factoring into the lopsided money splits.

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last week's look-ahead line: Buccaneers -10, 48.5
Sunday opener: Buccaneers -12.5, 48
Wednesday: Buccaneers -12, 47
Spread action: 61% of the bets are on the Buccaneers, but 97% of the money wagered is on the Bears.
Total action: 61% of the bets are on the over, and 91% of the money is on the under.

Note: Caesars Sportsbook reported taking a $520,000 bet on the Bears +13, leading to the lopsided money on the Bears.

Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers

Last week's look-ahead line: 49ers -5, 44.5
Sunday opener: 49ers -4, 44.5
Wednesday: 49ers -4, 44
Spread action: 68% of the bets are on the Colts, but 57% of the money wagered is on the 49ers.
Total action: 70% of the bets are on the over, but 97% of the money wagered is on the under.

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (Monday)

Last week's look-ahead line: Saints -3, 43.5
Sunday opener: Saints -3.5, 44
Wednesday: Saints -5, 42.5
Spread action: 56% of the bets and 91% of the money wagered is on the Saints.
Total action: 54% of the bets are on the over, but 98% of the money is on the under.


A bookmaker's approach to college football lines

Circa Sports is responsible for the first college football lines to hit the betting market each week. The book posts its opening lines at 11 a.m. PT on Sundays and offers $3,000 betting limits to all comers, including professional bettors. Within the industry, Circa Sports is what's considered a "sharp book." Their limits grow rapidly through the week and, by the time kickoff approaches, will be among the largest in the betting market.

Matt Metcalf, sportsbook director for Circa Sports in Las Vegas, is sharing his bookmaking approach with ESPN this football season.

Illinois-Penn State line movement

Metcalf says his opening line of Penn State -17 reflected, in his opinion, Nittany Lions QB Sean Clifford playing this week against Illinois. Clifford's status remained uncertain early in the week with an undisclosed injury that knocked him out of Penn State's loss to Illinois. Bettors disagreed with the number and backed Penn State all the way up to -24 in the hours after Metcalf posted the opening line on Sunday.

"I think we just underestimated how much [bettors] are anti-Illinois," Metcalf said.

'The game I don't understand is NC State-Miami'

Metcalf believed he had NC State properly rated when he opened the Wolfpack as 2-point road underdogs at Miami. However, limit bets came in on NC State, moving the Wolfpack to a 4-point favorite.

"Obviously, the market does not like Miami," Metcalf said. "That was a weird game because the total also moved like eight points (61.5 down to 51.5 as of Wednesday), so we thought we missed an injury to Miami's quarterback or something. We were way off on the side and total on that game, which doesn't happen like that very often, without us missing an injury. I'm still surprised how that's moved."

Alabama-Georgia potential

Metcalf would currently have Georgia as a 1-point favorite against Alabama.