There are a lot of big spreads this week, but only a few of them are worth your time. Here’s a guide for the adventurous gambler.
There’s a wealth of information out there dissecting every single thing about the NFL and its teams and players for anyone with the time or energy to dig into it. Some of us get paid to do that. Some of us are just obsessive.
It’s useful information too, for what it reveals about teams and players. However, you’ll drown pretty quickly in a river of data if you’re trying to drink it up for things like fantasy football lineup decisions or casual betting on the games.
To me, instinct is still the best guide you have for these kinds of decisions.
This week’s theme is big spreads — six games with one team favored by a touchdown or more. It’s tempting to flirt with the underdogs on big lines like that. But that’s how you end up sinking money on the Browns … again. Stop it. Don’t even throw a fiver at the Browns. They will disappoint you. They always disappoint; it’s what they’re built for.
Trust your gut when you see these big ass spreads. And save your five dollars for something even more frivolous than betting on a football game. There’s a perfectly good plastic poop emoji, made to stick on your dashboard, near the counter at the truck stop that would look perfect in your automobile, a googly-eyed reminder never to bet on the Browns just because they’re massive underdogs.
All odds are provided via OddsShark. Homes teams in all caps.
Best bets for this week
RAVENS (-6.5) over Bears
Chicago is set up well to be the most interesting bad team to watch this year. A team that won’t win more than five games, but one that’s shown a knack for keeping it close, thanks mostly to a defense miles ahead of the offense.
Look at the Ravens’ history with big spreads. They’re 15-0 straight up and 5-2 against the spread in games where they’re favored by a touchdown or more, and you can find plenty of books that have it at -7 for Baltimore.
TEXANS (-9) over Browns
Stop. Don’t do it.
Packers (-3) over VIKINGS
FALCONS (-13) over Dolphins
Remember when a video of an offensive line coach doing lines would’ve been THE story in the NFL world for at least an entire week? Oh, how I long for those days.
BRONCOS (-11.5) over Giants
The Giants have nothing left. I can only envision this team winning again if they fire Ben McAdoo during the season.
Lions (+4) over SAINTS
The Saints are a tough out in New Orleans. The Lions are a better team, though. Don’t overthink it.
Buccaneers (-1) over CARDINALS
It should be a slam dunk for the Bucs. Buuuuuuuuuuut, the offense is underwhelming compared to expectations we had based on the kind of talent on the roster.
RAIDERS (-3.5) over Chargers
This game might get moved to Levi’s Stadium because of the smoke from the fires in California wine country north of the Bay. Keep an eye on that, though I’m not sure it will change the lines too much. The Chargers are an away team wherever they play. The Raiders might have Derek Carr back too.
JAGUARS (-2.5) over Rams
Jared Goff hasn’t faced a defense this good yet. Seattle’s close, but trying to find open receivers against Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye is going to be a struggle.
Underdog picks for the adventurous gambler
Steelers (+4) over CHIEFS
This is all gut. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers’ offense should not be struggling to this extent. Part of that is on Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator. Part of it’s just the Steelers always being one of the most confusing teams in the league. They’re due to shake off their funk, and I’m betting it happens this week.
JETS (+9.5) over Patriots
I know, I know. Here’s my thinking. New England’s defense is the worst in the league right now, ranked 32nd in defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders. Also, left tackle Nate Solder missed some practice early in the week. He’s going to play, but he’s been a massive liability for Tom Brady, who’s been sacked 16 times already.
No, I’m not buying that the Jets will win the AFC East or even win this week, but things are lined up well for them to cover a big spread. Plus, the Patriots are 1-6-1 in their last eight against the Jets.
49ers (+11) over WASHINGTON
The 49ers are a bad team, but they’ve only lost one game by more than four points.
OFF THE BOARD
Colts at Titans (off the board)
Marcus Mariota vs. Andrew Luck, what a game that’s going to be … someday when both players are actually healthy enough to play. Luck is out this week. Mariota is a game-time decision. Check back closer to kickoff.