Week 14 in the NFL has become the week of the 3s, the most key number for the NFL and sportsbooks. The reason a three or field goal is vastly important is that it is what separates two teams in close to 18% of all NFL games.
When the lines opened on Sunday for the NFL Week 14 games, 10 out of the 16 games posted on sites such as Bovada, betonline, sportsbook.com or topbet, had a spread that was between 2.5 and 3.5. That could make for a highly volatile weekend of games for the bookmaker.
If the first move is correct it makes for good back in forth action on both sides of the number, but if it is off and a few wagers move the line from -2.5 to -3, then the risk is higher of being sided.
In addition, if no money takes the underdog at +3, and bettors remain on the favorite at -3, and push it up to -3.5, the bookmaker can be middled, since bets will be made on a dog at the +3.5 once that extra 0.5 is added on.
If that particular game landed on 3, like a number of NFL games do, the chances are it is the favorite that won. On that price, the book must refund all action, but would pay both ends at -2.5 with the favorite and an underdog on +3.5.
If being sided and middled occurs too many times, a severe hurt is taken to the bottom line of a sports book. Therefore, it is utterly important for the bookmaker to get the right number from the start.
At times 3 is the best way to begin since it is better being sided than middled. For example if the Patriots are closer as a favorite to -2 than they are -3, why begin at -3.
As late as Saturday, games on Bovada that were still around the three included San Francisco hosting Seattle, with the 49ers and not the Seahawks laying the three points. Just one major book had the game still at -3 for the 49ers, while the majority had dropped it to -2.5.
Kansas City opened -2 at Washington but was bet up to -3. Since Monday, it has remained on -3. Some sharp money might come in on Washington at +3.5 but not +3, and the public is staying away.
The Jets remain at -3 at home against Oakland. Carolina opened +4 against the Saints, but nearly every book now has New Orleans at home -3. Philadelphia is now -2.5 over Detroit. Pittsburgh opened at -3.5 at home against Miami, but it has since come down on some sites including topbet to the Steelers -3.
It looks to be like a very interesting weekend for the bookmakers and those bettors who dare to play a 3 spread.