Welcome to "Beauty vs. the Beast," a handicapping feature designed to track how the teams that are bet the most and the least at a given sportsbook in a given week fare. Each week, I'll put down a mythical 100 units on each of the games and see what happens.
This week, we'll defer to recent history for the "beauty" and "beast" picks. And we wll focus on the Lions and Cowboys, the NFL's traditional Thanksgiving hosts.
At Wynn Las Vegas and Encore in Las Vegas, the "early money is on Green Bay," executive director of race and sports operations Johnny Avello said Tuesday.
The Packers, of course, are undefeated, but they are also a wonderful 7-3 against the spread, too. The Lions are no slouches against the spread, either (6-3-1), but considering their woes on Thanksgiving (seven consecutive defeats and non-covers), we'll make them our beast for Week 12, especially with Green Bay (-6) catching the early fancy of bettors. Avello does believe, however, that the Lions will be a popular play to win outright on the money line.
Our "beauty," if recent history is our criteria, has to be the Cowboys, who are seven-point favorites vs. Miami. They have covered five consecutive times on Thanksgiving.
"We'll probably be heavy on that side," Avello said.
Avello expects a good deal of interest on both Baltimore and San Francisco and says this is a strong slate top-to-bottom, with even the Dolphins, winners of three in a row, having faint playoff hopes. There have been worse Thankgiving slates, certainly. Such intriguing matchups are good for a sportsbook's business.
"These are the kind of games I like to book as a bookmaker," he said.
Beauty: Cowboys -7 (+100) vs. Dolphins
Beast: Lions +6 vs. Packers
Note: Lines as of Tuesday
Beauty: -518.18 (2-7-1 ATS)
Beast: -45.45 (5-5 ATS)
Profit / Loss: -563.63
"Wagers" to date
Beauty: Week Three (Lions -3) — PUSH; Week Four (Bills -3) — LOSS; Week Five (Lions -5½) — WIN, Week Six (Patriots -6½) — LOSS; Week Seven (Packers -9) — LOSS; Week Eight (Patriots -3) — LOSS; Week Nine (Bills -2½) — LOSS; Week Nine (Packers -5½) — WIN; Week 10 (Ravens -6½) — LOSS; Week 11 (Cowboys -7) — LOSS.
Beast: Week Three (Chiefs +14½) — WIN; Week Four (Seahawks +4½) — WIN; Week Five (Jaguars -1½) — LOSS; Week Six (Dolphins +7) — LOSS; Week Seven (Dolphins -2) — LOSS; Week Eight (Rams +14) — WIN; Week Nine (Dolphins +4) — WIN; Week Nine (Colts +7) — LOSS; Week 10 (Buccaneers +3) — LOSS; Week 11 (Buccaneers +14) — WIN.