I don’t claim to be an expert at betting football games.
After all, gambling is, by definition, a bit of a toss-up. If you manage to come out of a season with anywhere around 55% of your bets earning a profit, you can afford to pat yourself on the back. Getting to that point is the hard part, but my aim is to help you do that across a season with some under the radar wagers.
What gambling on football does allow us to do is have a little bit of fun with games we might not normally be interested in. While wagering on the spread and total points is the norm, your best bet might be to eschew these and go with more unconventional options.
There is a tendency to overreact, not just in betting but also in day to day life. As human beings, we crave a great story. When teams and players perform above expectations, we tell ourselves that this narrative is the new reality; when they fail, we are often too quick to dismiss them.
The wise choice is not to get too high or too low, but rather to maintain a healthy scepticism about what you have taken in during the course of Week 1. In this way we can, as gamblers, take advantage of lines and prices which have deviated too far off the logical path.
Let’s start by reviewing Week 1’s bets.
WEEK 1 RECAP
WIN: San Diego (+7) at Kansas City @ 5/6
Our tenets of gambling served us well last week; this is one of two bets based on those betting tips that paid out. The one relating to this contest stated that over the past 10 years, it is a good play to bet on road underdogs getting seven or more points in divisional contests. The Chargers suffered a horrific blow with the loss of Keenan Allen, and the offense seemed to cave in after that setback. Defensively, they will not be pleased that the Chiefs squeaked out a victory in overtime. For our purposes, however, San Diego did exactly what the trend suggested.
LOSS: Green Bay at Jacksonville – total points UNDER 48.0
Packers 27, Jaguars 23: a loss by two points on this bet isn’t going to keep me up all night. Admittedly, I played the contrarian with this bet. Perhaps it should be a lesson in this nascent season that fading the expected outcome is not always the smart decision. Then again, sometimes such leaps of faith work out (see our next bet for more on that). The Jaguars surprised me with their stubbornness to hang with Green Bay despite a handful of ridiculous plays by Aaron Rodgers. The totals for the Jaguars games should see an uptick off games like this.
WIN: Home team total points: Arizona under 27 points vs. New England @ 10/11
Not to toot my own horn, but I nailed this one exactly. Bill Belichick has a knack for crafting game plans to stifle opposing offenses, reputation be damned. Putting aside any lingering question marks about the so-called ‘decline’ of Carson Palmer, the Patriots could easily have lost this game to a quality Arizona team. As with many games on the Week 1 slate, it came down to a kick – and Catanzaro missed it. I expect Arizona to rebound in the coming weeks, but we might sneak in another bet involving New England’s opponents going under the total in the coming weeks.
WIN: Miami (+10.5) at Seattle @ 20/23
One of the gambling ‘golden rules’ I harped on last week was taking underdogs getting 10 or more points. The Dolphins rewarded us handsomely if you had enough faith to back them in the Pacific North-West. A defensive performance worthy of winning the game ultimately fell short as Russell Wilson worked his magic, but they comfortably covered the spread. Don’t expect to see Seattle’s opponent grabbing 10 or more points; more than likely the pros jumped all over this one to lighten the pockets of the Vegas cognoscenti.
SEASON RECORD: 3-1-0 (0.750)
WEEK 2 PUNTS
Miami Dolphins under 17 points at New England @ 10/11
As with most of these types of bets you will have to pay a vig, but in this case I truly believe it will be worth it. We have had our first exposures to every team, but even as the winds of change blow in the 2016 NFL season, some things never change. One such example is the New England Patriots defense, which has a knack of stifling opponents – even strong ones like Arizona – and reducing them to dust. The Dolphins offense is exciting on paper and will move the ball, but I have more faith in the Patriots defense in this matchup. New England’s cornerbacks match up well with Miami’s receivers and the Patriots should be able to exploit the Dolphins’ tackle-filled offensive line. Seventeen points is a low bar for the Miami offense to reach, true, but call it a gut feeling: they won’t get to it.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos – UNDER 45 total points @ 10/11
The Colts are simply not constructed the right way to be a championship level team. That much seems obvious, but how far must they fall before heads begin to roll? After a tough loss to start 0-1, things only get more worrisome as they travel to a raucous Denver to face the might of Trevor Siemian and the Broncos. I am not jesting on Siemian, by the way; he showed a ton of poise against Carolina. A toothless Colts pass rush shouldn’t pose many problems. If anything, the main concern here is that the Colts get too far behind and rack up some late points. The Broncos defense is as legitimate a unit as there is in the league. Even a loaded Colts offense will stutter. Score prediction: Colts 13 Broncos 24
New York Jets to win at Buffalo @ 10/11
The line has shifted significantly for this contest in the wake of the Sammy Watkins injury news, with reports suggesting his surgically repaired foot may be causing him pain. While the talented former Clemson product would be a loss to the Bills, the bigger concern has to be their offensive output in general. The Ravens aren’t exactly a formidable unit; at least, not at the level they used to be. To only score a handful of points must be disheartening. The Jets will feel hard done by to lose to a good team in Cincinnati, but expect a strong display from their defense to win the day here. Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to Buffalo and steals a win in the dying seconds; I can already see the look of devastation on the faces of Buffalo fans.
Green Bay Packers (-2) at Minnesota @ 10/11
The spectre of Sam Bradford looms for the Vikings as they open their lavish new facility on Sunday Night Football. Millions will be watching, but it may not be the men in purple smiling at the end. Their opponents, the irrepressible Packers led by Aaron Rodgers, survived a tricky test in Jacksonville to get off to the perfect start. Now, in their first divisional game, they will hope to shake off some more offseason cobwebs and produce a statement performance. The Vikings have a defense that can keep them in any game, but my gut tells me not to bet against the Pack in primetime.
WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS
Dallas Cowboys UNDER 9.5 wins @ 5/6
A divisional home loss against your bitter rivals is a tough pill to swallow, but it goes a long way towards seeing this bet over the line. Five more losses will be enough to cash this bad boy in. My confidence level is high despite a reasonable upcoming schedule that the Boys should be aiming for 3-2 in. Next five games: @WAS, v CHI, @SF, v CIN, @GB
Tennessee to win AFC South @ 17/2
Exotic smashmouth is all well and good when you can control the game script, but if you surrender a pair of defensive touchdowns suddenly you get smashed in the mouth. The Titans had a rude awakening at the hands of the Vikings, but there are more favourable tilts ahead.
Next five games: @DET, v OAK, @HOU, @MIA, v CLE
Sterling Shepard to win Offensive Rookie of the Year @ 20/1
My best friend, a Giants fan, was over at my place for the Cowboys game on Sunday evening. Approaching the edge of his seat as Eli Manning took the snap in the red zone, he looked over at me as soon as Sterling Shepard secured what was a difficult catch and simply nodded. I had been harping on all offseason about the talents of the precocious rookie out of Oklahoma, but he hadn’t seen as much of him. Now he’ll want to see more – and so will I, as my OROTY longshot bet suddenly looks all the more possible.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 3’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter