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.
The T.J. Yates story had me hook, line and sinker when I saw the footage of his mother and father watching him at Paul Brown Stadium as he led the Texans to a 20-19 victory at Cincinnati on Dec. 11. The CBS cameras catching his mother not being able to bear to watch in the final moments was just wonderful. And his story got even better last week as Yates, the Texans' rookie quarterback, threw a TD and committed no turnovers in Houston's 31-10 wild-card win in the rematch against the Bengals.
I am guessing that there weren't a lot of hardened professional gamblers pleading dust in the air as they wiped their eyes as Yates added another chapter to his intriguing tale last week. But these "sharps," as they are referred to, did cash on the Texans last week, reports Jay Rood, the vice president of race and sports at MGM Resorts International.
What's more, they are on Houston once again this week. The Texans are 7½-point underdogs at Baltimore Sunday.
However, the public is not on the Texans, Rood said, preferring the Ravens instead. For our purposes, Houston qualifies as this week's "beast" for that very reason.
While the Texans haven't caught the public's fancy, the Saints have, and that should be absolutely no surprise. The Saints, 3½-point favorites at San Francisco on Saturday, have won and covered in nine consecutive games. They are this week's "beauty" selection.
The 49ers, the first home underdog in this round since the 1996 Carolina Panthers, hardly look like a pushover, however. San Francisco, which won 13 regular-season games and earned a first-round bye, looks like a "very live dog in this round," in Rood's view.
And some appear to agree with him. According to VegasInsider.com, which charts the pointspread movement at various Nevada and offshore sportsbooks, MGM moved the line to as high as New Orleans -4 on Thursday, but the line settled back at 3½ on Friday.
Beauty: Saints (-3½) at 49ers
Beast: Texans (+7½ / -120) at Texans
Lines at MGM Resorts International, per VegasInsider.com, as of Friday.
Beauty: -836.36 (4-12-1 ATS)
Beast: -371.21 (7-10 ATS)
Profit / Loss: -1,207.57 (11-22-1 ATS)
"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; Week 12 (Cowboys -7) — LOSS; Week 13 (Packers -6) — LOSS; Week 14 (Broncos -3½) — LOSS; Week 15 (Patriots -7½) — WIN; Week 16 (49ers -2½) — LOSS; Week 17 (Giants -3) — WIN; Wild-card round (Steelers -8½) — 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; Week 12 (Lions +6) — LOSS; Week 13 (Rams +13½) — LOSS; Week 14 (Cardinals +4) — WIN; Week 15 (Browns +7 / -120) — WIN; Week 16 (Rams +14) — LOSS; Week 17 (Buccaneers +12) — LOSS; Wild-card round (Bengals +3) — LOSS.