Inside Slant: Week 5

Dave Larkin breaks down some under-the-radar bets for you to consider this week.

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.

If you lost money last week – lots of it – then there’s no need to fret. Except for the lucky few who came away unscathed from the gambling doomsday, most of our wallets were wiped out by a highly unpredictable Week 4 slate.

These games are becoming more difficult to bet on. Part of that comes down to the innate random nature of the game; a ball bounces one way or the other, a pass is caught or dropped, a penalty extends a drive or doesn’t. The only way to combat this frustrating aspect of the game is first, to enjoy it, and second, to see if we can take advantage.

The trends suggest certain teams are destined for greatness, but we have only played four weeks. Remember, the Atlanta Falcons were undefeated at this point last season. Things change so fast in the NFL.

The Week 5 slate waits for no man, so let’s see if we can pinpoint some blind spots in the coverage and put together a Julio Jones-esque week in the win column. Before we do that, the recap of last week’s rebound bets.


WEEK 4 RECAP

LOSS: Total points Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals OVER 42.5 @ 10/11

My only loss of the week, this was a classic case of paralysis by analysis. The Rams deserve a lot of credit for shutting down the Cardinals offense like they did, but perhaps Bruce Arians’ team should take a long look in the mirror. This is not the same team, and the sample size of ineptitude, albeit a small one, suggests the panic is valid. The rule of thumb should be always to bet the under when the Rams are involved.

WIN: Home team total points: Washington OVER 27.5 points vs. Cleveland @ 4/5

The Redskins had me concerned towards the end of this game, but managed to reach 31 points and secure this victory. My second rule of thumb of the week is to always bet against the Browns defense. There are some reasons for optimism that one day, in the distant future, Cleveland’s roster will resemble one of an actual NFL team. Until then we can safely win money betting against them. Sorry to all the Browns fans out there.

WIN: Longest successful field goal: Indianapolis Colts (Adam Vinatieri) @ 4/5

He’s just automatic, folks. The first kicker bet of the season yields a great result, as Adam Vinatieri’s ageless leg continues to wow audiences everywhere. As far afield as London, he managed to stay as consistent as ever. His 53-yard boot wasn’t enough to give the Colts a much-needed win, but we will take the win gladly.

WIN: Away team total points: Carolina OVER 26.5 points at Atlanta @ 4/5

As a Panthers fan this was tough to watch start to finish, but the silver lining was that the bet came through after a fourth quarter Derek Anderson-inspired rally. The Falcons defense is an improving unit, but any defense is bound to let up a little bit when the game is under control. The Carolina offense is a big concern moving forward, however, and we may avoid them for the time being.

WEEK 4 RECORD: 3-1
SEASON RECORD: 8-8-0 (0.500)


WEEK 5 PUNTS

Home team total points: Indianapolis Colts OVER 26.5 points vs. Chicago @ 8/11

The Colts are generally a ‘stay away’ team when it comes to gambling one’s hard-earned cash, but this week is an exception. The Bears defense has shown some spunk and could pose problems for a questionable (at best) Colts offensive line, but Andrew Luck is capable of rebounding in the cosy confines of the dome. I think the Colts go back to the drawing board this week after a week of restless sleep and put a beating on the Bears. Prediction: Colts 31 Bears 17

Away team total points: Buffalo Bills UNDER 19 points at Los Angeles @ 5/6

The Bills are back to 2-2 but face a tricky test on the road against the Rams this week. Aaron Donald is absolutely wrecking games right now and the rest of the Los Angeles defense is playing their part as well to make this a unit to be feared. The Bills defense is playing above itself, but this might be the week Rex Ryan’s team comes back to earth. Although 19 points is a low bar, the Rams defense is one you should have confidence in to accomplish such a feat. Prediction: Bills 14 Rams 20

Longest successful FG: Nick Novak (Houston) at Minnesota @ 11/10

Nick Novak has nailed nine of his 11 field goal attempts this season and has only failed to register an attempt in the debacle at New England. The Vikings have a struggling kicker in Blair Walsh, who missed yet another straightforward attempt on Monday night, so Novak is bound to benefit. The Texans are a candidate to produce a dud – and that is the risk baked in – but I am backing Novak to get the job done in a field goal fest.

New England (-10.5) at Cleveland @ evens

This breaks all my betting rules, but I can’t resist it. The Patriots are poised to get back into top gear with Tom Brady back under centre. Bill Belichick will relish the chance to pile up the points, regardless of the opponent. The Browns are walking into an ambush here armed with a butter knife. The Patriots will pound the poor home team into submission; don’t be surprised to see a 40-point outing. Prediction: Patriots 38 Browns 14

WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS

Dallas Cowboys UNDER 9.5 wins @ 5/6

The 3-1 Cowboys enter a tougher portion of their schedule, giving hope to this bet actually coming off as expected. Dak Prescott has been nothing short of a lifesaver for this team, and Ezekiel Elliott is beginning to round into the form his college tape promised. I think I’ll be sweating this one out for a while.
Next four games: v CIN, @ GB, v PHI, @ CLE

Tennessee to win AFC South @ 17/2

Speaking of sweating things out, the Titans continue to be uninspiring, prompting an internal monologue of ‘Why did I ever consider trusting this team?’ There is nothing I can do about it now, but the next few games look favourable and they could grab a couple of wins to stay in the division title hunt.
Next four games: @ MIA, v CLE, v IND, v JAX

Sterling Shepard to win Offensive Rookie of the Year @ 20/1

Amassing 20 catches over the first four games is just not Offensive Rookie of the Year material. His play has been very impressive for a rookie, but the even better play of Ezekiel Elliott, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott will overshadow Shepard in the end.


Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 6’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.