Written by Matthew Nereim
Beating the NFL is no easy task. It is known to be a “week to week” league where teams can go from one extreme to the other in short order. Even bad teams are capable on any given Sunday as we were reminded of last week with the Falcons went on the road and rolled New Orleans. Vegas feasts on the average better who love the action and betting 3 to 5 team parlays.
My betting approach has strict rules and guidelines, albeit there are rare exceptions. Despite a background with designing computer-generated-betting-systems for horses, trying to apply a data-based approach to the NFL was not as fruitful. So, rather than fixating on particular stats, teams, trends etc., it is MUCH more about watching the line, what % of bets are on which team, and if and how the line reacts to the betting public? From there I deduce to me the most important question:
“Who does “Vegas” want me to bet on?”
By figuring out who Vegas wants me to bet on and doing the opposite, I don’t have to worry about what I think nearly as much. Some of the games that I “like” I actually personally really don’t care for all that much. I mean the best bets usually do not look all that sexy. But when I do love a particular side, that is when it is time to really load up! Betters biggest mistake is betting the same amount on multiple games and not just going with their #1 play and going heavy...or at least betting multiple times more than the other games. Rarely is there more than 1 or 2 games a week worth betting on if you ask me. Vegas has tricks up their sleeves as well which explains why so few games are playable by my quality, not quantity philosophy.
So what looks interesting this week?
Atlanta @ Carolina -4.5
58% of the public is on Carolina, yet the line dropped 2 points down to 4.5? If the line were 7 I would say they want me to take the points…but at 4.5, that looks fishy. Atl just upset the Saints on the road, but it was in another Dome. If I had to bet I take Atl, but no thanks to a 2-7 team on the road for a 2nd week. Vegas wants me to bet on the Panthers. Easy Pass.
Houston @ Baltimore -4.5
Lamar laying only 4.5 points, this looks like a “sucker bet”. If it looks too good to be true it usually is. 58% of betters back the Ravens and the line has not moved? The Ravens have been en fuego and have the Lamar-velous One who I JUST DON’T MESS AROUND WITH right now. Houston is off a bye week but just lost JJ Watt. I would not bet Baltimore but I actually can’t fault those of you who side with Joe Public and “ride the bull till she bucks you”. But I will just be watching, with interest, because it sure looks like Vegas is begging me to take LJ & the Ravens!
J-ville @ Indy -2.5
The line opened at 3 and Joe P was on J-ville. It dropped down to 2.5 and Joe P is now on Indy. If J-ville was not off a bye I would pass…but the Jags are off of a bye week (& get Foles back) in a must-win game. Vegas is asking me to take Indy. But, I am going to pass my $ to the teller and take the 2.5 points. Bet: J-Ville
Chiefs vs Chargers +4 (in Mexico City)
This is actually the fishiest looking line and screams “sucker bet”. Joe P loves to bet on Mahomes & 65% of bets are on the Chiefs. Both teams are coming off a brutal last-minute loss. The Bolts have their season on the line and I am so close to taking the points but it will be a tight cover at best in what I project as a dogfight. Plus, like Lamar, Mahomes can wreck a game on a whim. Vegas’s asking me to take the Chiefs…but no way I take the bait! Lean Chargers but Hard Pass.
Patriots -3.5 @ Eagles
Philly opened as 1 point favorites but the line swung hard the other way with 62% of bets on Brady & Co. I don’t like to bet with Joe P of course…but I can’t fault those of you who ride the spread-wave and lay the points. Lean towards Brady, as he is a bounce-back specialist…but no thanks on the road in another tough environment.
Bengals @ Oakland -11.5
With 63% of the bets coming in on Oakland the line moved 3 points. Lean Oakland but there’s no way that I lay that many points with that defense.
And please…if you are going to bet, make it be with $ that you can afford to lose. Even a great bet can be squashed by a couple of unlucky bounces.