IMPORTANT: I am not an “expert,” but my analysis is still worth reading. I’m not an expert because nobody is an expert, and if someone calls himself an expert, he’s probably not an expert.
The point of this column is to give a unique angle of analysis — the bettor’s perspective — the psychology and resources of which are far superior to the brain-dead “the popular team should win because they should” that you see from “experts” on ESPN and elsewhere, who don’t even acknowledge point spreads.
There is a solid chance these picks will lose money, so I’m not recommending that you bet on them blindly. But I do recommend that you read for a new perspective. And plenty of stupid jokes. Doesn’t Ben Roethlisberger look like Will Ferrell if he ate nothing but KFC for a month? (It’s funny because Roethlisberger is the athlete… zing!)
Please don’t hesitate to call me a moron on Twitter if inspiration strikes. Now would be a good time.
New York Giants (+3.5) over Washington Potato Skins*
These teams are confusing.
The Giants lost to two pretty good teams (Detroit and Arizona) and beat a maybe-good team (Houston). Their turnover margin was -6 going into Week 3. Then they won the TO battle 2-0 and unsurprisingly won.
They probably aren’t as bad as they looked the first two weeks. Even bad teams don’t average three turnovers a game without forcing any.
Matt Stafford torched them. The Cardinals did not. Ryan Fitzpatrick moved the ball… but was picked three times. The defense, good last year, is probably OK.
The Potato Skins are equally confusing.
Their defense was supposed to be a joke, but they shut down the Texans and Jaguars in Weeks 1 and 2. Then they shut down Shady McCoy (against a banged-up O-line), but were killed by Nick Foles. Nobody has run on them yet. They might have a good run defense. They likely don’t have a good pass defense, as any Potato Skins fan will tell you.
Can Eli Manning beat them? Maybe. Probably. I don’t know.
The Giants look a bit worse than expected, but probably aren’t as bad as people are acting. The talent is there if Eli isn’t awful. The Potatoes look a bit better than expected. Going into the season, the Giants were projected as the slightly better team.
So, yeah, the line makes sense and these teams don’t, so… I’ll stay away.
Oakland Raiders* (+4) over Miami Dolphins
I’m not convinced the Dolphins are seven points better than any team. The Raiders just held the Patriots to 4.2 yards per play.
But this should be ugly and I don’t have a modicum of faith in Oakland’s offense, so that Raiders lean becomes an “I’ll watch the highlights, if there are any.”
Green Bay Packers (-1.5) over Chicago Bears*
A good betting rule of thumb: If something made no sense one week, ignore it and make some risotto.
You’re not gonna figure out why Aaron Rodgers sucked last week. Maybe Detroit’s defense really is legit. But it’s one game. Ignore it. Rodgers probably was crippled with dingleberries or something.
The Bears would’ve given up 40 points to the Jets if Geno Smith was anyone but Geno Smith (or Mark Sanchez). They’re giving up 7.1 yards per attempt and they’ve played GENO SMITH, EJ MANUEL and Colin Kaepernick.
If Rodgers doesn’t go off here, those dingleberries are more serious than I suspected.
Instead of trusting the Packers defense against Marc Trestman (BAD IDEA), I’ll probably just bet on Rodgers alone with a Green Bay team total over, which should be around 26.
BET: Packers TT Over, probably
Houston Texans* (-3) over Buffalo Bills
Both teams are coming off a loss after (somewhat) unexpectedly starting 2-0. The Bills probably have the better defense. The Texans probably have the better offense. Their defense looked good against RG3 and Jacksonville… and then Eli Manning and Rashad Jennings had extreme success.
The Bills weakness is their secondary… but is Ryan Fitzpatrick good enough to take advantage? Or will he throw three picks again like against the Giants?
The Bills offense is not very good.
This game is sneaky-ugly and sneaky-evenly-matched.
Tennessee Titans (+7.5) over Indianapolis Colts*
The Titans looked awful last week… but that happens to most teams in Cincinnati.
The Bengals at home last year: 8-0, six of eight wins by double digits, the other two by a TD. GINGER AT HOME IN GINGER NOLE.
The Colts aren’t better than the Bengals, but this line is higher than Titans/Bengals last week. Obviously the teams’ respective blowouts are to explain. But, again, the Colts are completely inferior to the Bengals. A 7.5-point spread is massive for a passable defense against a team that isn’t the Jaguars or Raiders.
BET: Titans +7.5 (-110), $95 to win $86.36 AND ML (+270), $15 to win
Carolina Panthers (+3.5) over Baltimore Ravens*
I was lucky to snag this quickly at +3.5, and I hope you get the same opportunity, friend. In a low-scoring game (total of 40.5) between two struggling offenses, that’s a gift. The Panthers looked inept on offense on Monday night, but they can still play defense, will be fired up off the embarrassment, and the Ravens do not have Pittsburgh’s explosiveness on offense.
I liked the under, too, but the Ravens have struggled against Brian Hoyer (10.9 ypa!) and Andy Dalton (7.9 ypa), so I’m staying away for now.
I would really like this bet if Cam Newton were healthy, but he’s not. He’s being forced to be a dropback QB, which is like forcing Ben Roethlisberger into Doug Flutie’s body (not sexually). Just a normal bet. FYI: DeAngelo Williams should be back.
BET: Panthers +3.5 (-110), $95 to win $86.36 AND ML (+155), $15 to win $23.25
Detroit Lions (-1) over New York Jets
The Lions are the Bears… but instead of a horrible defense, they have the top defense in the NFL in yards per play allowed (4.3). Doing that to the Giants and Panthers is only mildly impressive, but they just did it to Aaron Rodgers, too.
If Matthew Stafford plays alright, the Lions should have no trouble. Fortunately for us Jets fans, that is not a given.
BET: Lions -1 (-110), $110 to win $100
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7) over Pittsburgh Steelers*
With Doug Martin returning against a leaky run defense (and Gerald McCoy back), the Steelers aren’t a no-brainer like I’m sure ESPN is telling you.
The Bucs’ defense looked passable until Matt Ryan ripped them fourteen new holes and penetrated all 20 in total.
Also, good news:
Yeah, and I “have to” masturbate when I get horny.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+13) over San Diego Chargers*
If there’s ever a time for a team to come out slow in the NFL, it’s after two big wins (c’mon, winning in Buffalo should count), playing the JAGUARS. Blake Bortles cannot possibly be worse than Chad Henne, they do sorta have some skill talent (Cecil Shorts is back and the rookie WRs are talented), and the Chargers play slooooooooow. I can’t possibly back them -13.
In a completely speculative play, I like the Jags to come out fired up and the Chargers to start slow. +7 in the first half seems like a gift. (Remember the ridiculous 23-point spread vs. the Broncos last year? They went into the half down just two!) Yes, I’m cherrypicking an example, but how else can I convince myself I’m not an idiot for betting on the Jags?
BET: Jaguars FIRST HALF +7 (-110), $110 to win $100
Philadelphia Eagles (+5.5) over San Francisco 49ers*
What exactly have we seen this year that suggests the 49ers are better than the Eagles? The 49ers do not look good and have worse offensive and defensive yards per play numbers so far.
BET: Eagles +5.5 (-110), $95 to win $86.36 AND ML (+205), $30.75
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) over Minnesota Vikings*
It’s not clear how the Saints only scored 20 points against Minnesota, at home, last week. They averaged 8 yards per attempt and didn’t turn the ball over.
The Falcons still struggle mightily on the road, their defense is still crap (shutting down Josh McCown does not count) and Teddy Bridgewater is almost certainly an upgrade.
Line seems fair. But yes, I would pick Atlanta if you pointed a knife at my eye and said you were going to skewer my beautiful right eyeball (have at the left one).
Dallas Cowboys (+3) over New Orleans Saints*
Both teams should light it up. New Orleans has the better defense but they’re on the road. Line is perfect. Over/under is understandably sky-high at 53.
Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) over New England Patriots
New England is DEAD-LAST IN THE NFL IN YARDS PER PLAY (4.3). A full .3 yards worse than JACKSONVILLE. That said, they’re 2nd in defensive yards per play (4.4), so they’re not so bad in net terms. They’re first in defensive DVOA.
I’m very tempted to bet on the home team +3.5. For a historically good home team, that’s a damn good number. But the Chiefs look like they could be horrible, mediocre results aside. Nothing here.
(Interested in learning how to transfer from smart, dedicated fan to rational sports bettor? Email matt@sportsgrid with the subject “book” to get free advice on how to start betting on sports, from psychology to money management to picking winners.)
(What are your picks? Tweet me. I wanna hear.)
LATE ADD: Chiefs/Pats UNDER 47 (-110), $110 to win $100
Last Week: 9-2 (.818) (+$477)
Total: 18-11 (.620) +$1,095.86
Hypothetical Supercontest Picks: 9-6 (.600) (This Week: Packers, Lions, Jaguars, Chiefs, Eagles)
By the way, check out SportsGrid’s NFL Power Rankings, below: