Here’s why the Rams vs. Seahawks line has dropped to pick-’em

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is pressured by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on Oct. 3 at CenturyLink Field.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is pressured by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald on Oct. 3 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
(Alika Jenner / Getty Images)

Sports bettors in Las Vegas have been backing the Rams in Sunday night’s NFC West showdown against the Seattle Seahawks. An opening line of Seattle -2.5 had dropped to pick-’em by late Wednesday.

Though 2.5 points may seem like a major move, it’s not quite as big as it sounds. Final victory margins of one and two points are relatively uncommon in pro football. They happen, but not as much as combinations of field goals and touchdowns. A move from -2.5 to -5 would be huge because it would blow through the most important betting number of 3. Same for a line move from -5 to -7.5, which crosses the 7, or even -9 to -11.5, soaring past 10. Las Vegas saw Rams interest, but wasn’t necessarily flooded with Rams money.

Sharps, or professional gamblers, are known to aggressively attack certain numbers in six-point teasers, a popular proposition bet in Vegas. With these, you get to move the line six points in your favor on multiple options. But you have to sweep all your choices at the adjusted lines to win the bet. Sharps learned at least 30 years ago that moving an underdog from +1.5, +2 or +2.5 up past the key numbers of 3 and 7 to +7.5, +8 or +8.5 was a great strategy for spotting the best possibilities.

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Sports book managers knew early sentiment on the Rams just below a field goal meant there would soon be passion from sharps betting teasers. They quickly defended against that option. This is also why you’ll see favorites of -7.5 jump to -9 quickly, because sports books don’t want teaser bettors crossing both the 3 and 7 from the other direction.


Monitor NFL markets through the weekend for a better sense of Rams interest. Should the Rams become the favorite, that would be more significant. If Seattle money starts to show, sports books will have to decide how they want to manage risk between straight and teaser exposure.

Other notes

• The Chargers have lingered as three-point favorites at Jacksonville. Many shops are charging extra vigorish (12/10 rather than 11/10) to lay the key number with the Chargers. At these shops, bettors wanting the Jaguars can take +3 at even money.

Why does the market respect the Chargers, given their recent travails? Last week, we noted that Jacksonville’s four-game losing streak had missed spreads by a combined 73 points against Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Tampa Bay.

• With pro and college football coaching changes making headlines, you’ll often see reports on odds that various coaches will get particular jobs.

For every job opening, there’s a 100% chance it will be filled. Sports books will build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge. Entities that don’t take bets don’t need to factor in a house edge.

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Dec. 4, 2019

Let’s say you see a report that has one choice at even money, the second at 2/1, the third at 4/1, another at 6/1 and longer shots down the line. You should turn those fractions into percentage equivalents.


Even money is 50%, 2/1 is 33% (divide the denominator by the sum of the two numbers to get the percentage equivalent — 1 divided by 3 is 33%), 4/1 is 20%, 6/1 is 14%. You’ve probably noticed that we’re already at 117% before the longer shots.

A sports book would do that to make sure bettors are taking the worst of it. Any assessment from a source not taking bets should add up to 100%.

• In the NBA, the Lakers and the Clippers have been virtual co-favorites to win the title since before the season began. This week, the Westgate in Las Vegas has them as exact co-favorites.

The Lakers and Clippers are both 5/2 (29% each with the new tool you just learned). Just behind are Milwaukee 5/1, Houston 8/1, Philadelphia 8/1, Denver 18/1 and Boston 18/1.

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• In the NHL, monitor results for starting goalies if you’re trying to pick winners. Some teams drop off significantly when their backups get the call. Others are just as competitive.

The Ducks have actually performed much better with backup Ryan Miller (4-1-2) than with John Gibson (8-11-2) entering Friday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.

If you’d like to study more advanced stats on NHL goaltenders, try analytics website In all sports, informed bettors are more likely to be winning bettors.

Jeff Fogle writes for