Every week, I am picking NFL games against the spread. And making bets that I think are profitable. The first few weeks, I tried to be a tough guy and make millions of bets. I lost lots of dollars. I started limiting myself and have been quite profitable ever since. I plan to continue this for eternity.
Here is an early edition of my NFL Week 13 bets. A Thanksgiving edition. The rest of the bets will be published on Friday.
Realize: betting NFL is really hard. These picks are meant to hopefully help you out a bit, but mainly to entertain you. They AREN’T meant to be followed blindly. Listen, and hopefully be entertained by my childish jokes. Or at least say something mean about me so I can get a good cry in.
I will make a pick for every game. But if I don’t specifically recommend a bet, I’m just throwing darts. Don’t listen to my advice. The pick is there so I can have a record for picking every game, one that will undoubtedly suck. And then you can make fun of me. I’m a man of the people. As always, I hope you argue with me on Twitter.
For the actual bets, I will keep track of my record and profits/losses. Unlike my NHL/NBA “how not to lose your money gamblin’ “ series, a normal bet will be to win $100, for tracking purposes, because I’m a hypothetical high-roller, and you are too. There will be occasional double, triple, quadruple, and probably even quintuple bets.
Everybody loves eating, drinking, watching football and ignoring all but a select few members of their family on Thanksgiving. But there is one way to improve this already-excellent experience. By betting on the outcomes of football games and winning dollars. Let’s do that.
Detroit Lions* (-5.5) over Green Bay Packers
The Lions just lost at home to the Bucs. The Packers just tied the Vikings at home. Both teams desperately need a win here. You know the Lions should be favored with Aaron Rodgers out. Is six points too many, or not enough? (If Rodgers were playing, this would probably be something like Packers -2.5/3/3.5).
I find it hard to believe that the Lions are only three-points better than the Rodgers-less Packers on a neutral field.
The question: “How many points is Aaron Rodgers worth?” is a complex, nearly-unanswerable question, but we can give it our best shot:
– The market’s initial reaction to Aaron Rodgers being out was that he was worth nine points. The point spread against the Eagles was a pick ‘em, yet the Packers lost by 14, which suggests the market was off by a bit (or maybe it was just way off on the Eagles?)
– The market didn’t really readjust for the Packers’ game against the Giants, giving Rodgers a little more worth at first, but then betting the number down. The Giants wound up being favored by just three points, strangely. Unstrangely, the Giants won by 14. The conclusion: Rodgers may still be undervalued, though his perceived value didn’t move much.
– Last week, the market seemed to keep Rodgers’ value similar yet again, and yet again, that seemed like a dumb thing to do. The Packers tied a game in which they were favored by 4.5.
Three games doesn’t prove a theory, but doesn’t it seem like Rodgers’ perceived value is too low? This is a completely different team without him — the offensive line is more vulnerable, Eddie Lacy has less room to run, and their defense struggles with more responsibility.
This week’s line, by my admittedly-rough estimate, still pits Rodgers’ perceived value at something around 9 points. Considering the Packers lost against-the-spread (and straight-up) in three straight games… I like the Lions.
It’s also a damn good matchup. My reasoning:
– The Lions’ biggest weakness is their pass defense. They’re 28th in “passing defense,” the useless “statistic” that telecasts throw around… but in this case, it’s fairly accurate. They’re 27th in pass-defense DVOA, allow 7.3 yards per attempt (25th), a 60.91 CMP% (17th) a 90.8 passer rating (20th) and are 30th in sack percentage.
If you think that Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien can take advantage of this weakness, then maybe it’s a good matchup for Green Bay. I personally think they’re both quite bad, playing with a talented, yet thinned group of receivers and a subpar pass-protecting offensive line.
(I also don’t really care if it’s Flynn or Tolzien or their amalgamation, Flynnzien. Either one would be fine. I guess I’d prefer Flynn, who has been beaten out for jobs by Terrelle Pryor, Matt McGloin and Tolzien, which is like being beaten out for a backup quarterback job by three B1G quarterback prospects that nobody who watched them in college thought they would ever start… oh, wait, that’s exactly what happened. Sad.)
– The Packers’ biggest strength on defense is their pass rush, (9.14 sack percentage), but the Lions are tops in the NFL at protecting the QB (2.92 sack percentage allowed).
– The Packers’ secondary is awful. The Lions’ pass offense is very good.
It’s easy to be all like, “BRO. THEY LOST TO THE BUCS BRO.” And you’d be right, bro. But I honestly thought that was a good matchup for Tampa (and took them on the moneyline!), and Detroit won’t be caught off-guard two weeks in a row when in need of a win.
The only question is… do I tease this instead of taking -6? Time will tell. (And by time, I mean a few paragraphs.)
Dallas Cowboys* (-9.5) over Oakland Raiders
It’s easy to write off the Cowboys as “the same old Cowboys,” but even if that’s true… aren’t they still more than a touchdown better than the Raiders? The Cowboys have dominated most of the mediocre and bad teams they’ve played, save for Week 1 vs. the Giants and the game where Adrian Peterson almost singlehandedly beat them. They’re 4-1 at home. Take out the 51 points allowed to Denver and 49 to New Orleans, and all of a sudden a porous defense looks mediocre-ish. Not saying it’s great, or even good, but with this offense, against this offense… there’s a lot to like. My point is: They’re good enough to beat up on a bad team, and they’re explosive enough to win by a lot.
If Romo doesn’t go off, I’ll be shocked. I’m a tad worried about the Raiders running game against this defense, though, so I can’t pull the trigger on -9.5. But the importance of this game to the Cowboys, at home, the Raiders’ morale, the short week, my hatred for Matt McGloin… I just don’t see how the Cowboys lose here. Maybe I’m underthinking this, but I’ve never heard that term used before, so I’ll assume I’m not.
I’ll do something I rarely do, pay some extra juice for what seems like a very-safe teaser. Sometimes, you have to think inside of the box, where Joe Public gets his bets.
(Wait, I changed my mind last minute. A moneyline parlay, albeit with slightly-worse odds, is slightly safer. The teaser might make more pure probabilistic sense, but I prefer mitigating risk on big bets like these, because it’s getting cold and my balls are shrinking.)
Bet: Cowboys/Lions ML Parlay (-142), $355 to win $250
Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) over Baltimore Ravens
This game is absolutely massive and could determine the Wild Card race. (Although Baltimore has a really tough schedule, so they might still be screwed after a win.) And it’s a rivalry game. Both teams will be prepared. #analysis
These teams played about a month ago. Pittsburgh won, 19-16, at home. It was a fairly close game, but Pittsburgh deserved to win. Joe Flacco didn’t turn the ball over, which has happened only twice more this year than a vaginal stadium has been planned. (What I’m trying to say is that he’s turned the ball over in 8 of 11 games.)
The truth is, I can’t find a single reason to bet. The last four matchups between these two teams, dating all the way back to 2011, have been decided by 3 points. Three points is clearly the proper number by which the home team should be favored.
If your drunk uncle asks you for a pick at dinner, sure, tell him to take the points. Then claim you said the opposite if it backfires; he won’t remember. But I wouldn’t put my own money on it. And if you want a meaningless trend to tell Uncle Cleatus, tell him that the Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Baltimore. And if this somehow goes up to 3.5, which I highly doubt will happen, sure, throw a few bucks on Pittsburgh yourself, you degenerate. But I think you’re insane to take either side.
Bet: NOTHING, YOU DEGENERATE
Good luck, friends. Please hit me up on the Twitters to argue, call me names, ask a question, or say anything else that comes to mind. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you, friend.
Last Week’s Betting Record: 3-4 (.429) (+$20)
Since Limiting My Crazy, Overextended Self: 34-20 (.630) (+$1,576.76)
Overall Betting Record 54-43 (.557) (-$381.58)
Dart-throwing record: 91-81 (.530)