As some of you know, I'm originally from Las Vegas. I'm not sure how much it's influenced some of my interests, but either way I enjoy the world of gambling on football. When I'm down in Las Vegas during football season, I always get in a couple parlays. Parlays can usually be a sucker bets, but they certainly make things interesting. I've decided that each week we'll roll out the opening line for the 49ers matchup. The people who open these lines are often inclined to know a lot more about a given team than your average fan. When money's on the line, you certainly have to be ready. For the purposes of this discussion, we'll be using Bodog.com's daily lines.
The 49ers open as a 3-point underdog heading into Houston. I find this line particularly intriguing given Houston's big weekend win over Cincinnati and the 49ers own debacle two Sundays ago against Atlanta. The home team automatically gets 3 points on the line. So, in a not so precise way, Houston as a 3 point favorite would seem to indicate the bookies/Vegas think the 49ers and Houston are relatively even on a neutral field. Obviously even a neutral field might change things, but for the sake of argument, we'll operate under that assumption (feel free to contribute any other assumptions you'd like).
This line seems to indicate one of two things (or maybe both): 1) The 49ers are still respected by the oddsmakers, or 2) Houston is not all that respected. One reason the 49ers might be getting some love this week is that it seems likely they'll have Michael Crabtree in the lineup this week, potentially starting. As much discussion as that's generating, the more important lineup issue is the likely return of Frank Gore to the starting lineup. Aside from the two big runs against Seattle, Gore has had his troubles, but he remains Frank the Tank, the guy who generated most of the offense the last couple seasons. He may struggle, but the upside potential is huge and bookies might not want to go against that.