I want to point something out to you. And, it's possible, because of what I am about to show you, there is a very good chance that at the end of this column you will feel like you have not been living up to your full potential. (I never feel that way.) At the risk of ruining your day, here we go:
That is 13 games, neatly organized in columns -- my wrist hurts from all the tabbing -- to lllustrate this one simple point: Only one NFL game this weekend has moved more than 1.5 points. Nine games have moved a half-point or less. If you're looking for value, if you're looking for opportunity based on skittish bookmakers overadjusting or by following Billy Walters' steam, you're not going to find it. At least not this week. "This just tells me that the sports books are feeling really confident about their lines," Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis told me Thursday afternoon. "The problem is, all anyone wants to bet are sides because all they talk about on 'SportsCenter' is who will win the game."
Sharp is typical of a lot of the handicappers I talk to these days. He's in his mid-30s, was raised outside of Washington, D.C., went to Virginia Tech and studied engineering. He didn't grow up in a house full of degenerates who hung at the track during the week and spent more time talking to their bookies on the weekend than to their kids. His father was an engineer, just like him. He is part of, for lack of a better term, the Bodog generation. These are the guys who saw casinos popping up all over their state at the same time sports betting on the Internet moved the game from darkened corners to brightly lit computer screens.
He sees the lines as a logic problem, one that he feels particularly well-suited to solve given his background. After eyeballing games to make bets throughout college, he decided to put his engineering skills to good use. First, he settled into a job as an expert witness working on lawsuits involving construction budgets that have egregious overruns. "It's basically months of research and going through project schedules and interviewing site personnel," he says. "I crunch a lot of numbers and then put together an expert analysis."