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.
I endured a pretty horrendous gambling week in this column, but a late punt on the Raiders to win – after correctly predicting the Alabama vs. Texas A&M under – saved the day somewhat. In gambling terms, I fell victim to a couple of bad beats this week. We’ll look into that and see if we can get back on track starting with a recap of last week.
WEEK 7 RECAP
LOSS: Away team total points (Buffalo) over 23.5 at Miami @ 5/6
There is something to be said for a team with momentum. I believed the Bills were that team entering this game – and they were. Winning four in a row in the NFL is no mean feat, even if some were creampuff matchups. Under the blazing Miami sunshine, it turned out to be the Dolphins that came to the fore. Jay Ajayi’s performance was quite something to behold; he ran like the very heat around him was itching every part of his body, forcing him to dash to the end zone to end his plight. Miami’s defense in particular came to play, so they might be a stay away for gambling purposes until we see whether this is for real – or simply a mirage.
LOSS: Home team total points (Philadelphia) under 20 vs. Minnesota @ 8/11
We were all waiting for that game when the Vikings balloon would burst, and it came in Philadelphia. Special teams gaffes and a porous offensive line made the previously unbeaten Vikings look like one of the poorer teams in the league. It is important not to overreact to one defeat, but this team has clearly defined holes to exploit. It was a bad beat that I bet the under and the Eagles only scored a point more, but that’s why these Vegas sharps get paid the big bucks.
WIN: Oakland to beat Jacksonville @ evens
The shocking odds on this game made my jaw drop, so I couldn’t help myself. Having won on the Alabama-Texas A&M under bet, I quickly put it all on the Raiders (3-0 on the road entering this game) to win. Not once did I blink as I watched the lowly Jaguars struggle to do their best impression of an NFL team. If the Jags continue to get this undue respect, I might have to come back to the well.
LOSS: First quarter total: Chicago at Green Bay over 9.5 points @ 4/5
This game made for some poor watching from the get-go, but the Bears defense has to be given credit for hanging in there. Had Brian Hoyer not been knocked out of this contest, the Packers might have really struggled. There were only three points scored in the first quarter, so the bet fell flat. Nevertheless, it was worth a go – and Thursday night games are usually crazier than this one.
WEEK 7 RECORD: 1-3
SEASON RECORD: 13-14-1 (0.460)
WEEK 8 PUNTS
Oakland Raiders (+1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ 20/21
The Raiders are 4-0 on the road this season and look worth their impressive 5-2 record. Face it; there are not that many quality teams in the league this year. To be above .500 at this stage is a great spot to be in. This is a curious line, as it indicates that on a neutral field the Raiders would be favoured by two points. Perhaps that should be the line. I realise the Bucs have shown well against Carolina and San Francisco – in fits and starts – but the Raiders are a different beast. Jump all over the road team before this line skews too much.
Away team total points: Arizona over 23.5 points at Carolina @ 5/6
Ron Rivera’s Panthers are 1-4 against the spread coming off a bye, so my instincts tell me to avoid the spread here. The Panthers are giving 2.5 points, which is probably just about on the money. The Arizona total points line intrigues me, however. Many gamblers might be down on the Arizona offense after the 6-6 tie against Seattle, but this team has a chance to feast on Carolina’s defensive deficiencies. Even if the starting cornerbacks return for the Panthers, this could be a long day. Arizona should easily get over 23.5 points.
Home team total points: Indianapolis over 24 points vs. Kansas City @ evens
The Colts certainly don’t belong in the conversation when we discuss legitimate teams, but they have a way of hanging around. The win over Tennessee will have given them confidence, but the Chiefs will pose a tougher challenge. Andrew Luck is finally playing like Andrew Luck again, so even a pretty solid Chiefs defense shouldn’t faze him at home. Kansas City’s strength lies in their ability to shorten games and maximise possessions. If the Colts can summon up a defensive effort their talent shouldn’t be able to produce, they should get over the 24-point threshold.
Total points: Green Bay @ Atlanta under 52.5 points @ 10/11
The points, the points, the points; all my bets this week are based on points. Here is a line that instantly stood out to me. The reputation of these teams has the line as high as it is. I will grant you that an explosion of points is possible, but both defenses have been playing better than average, especially Green Bay’s. The Packers offense has been inept enough at times that I doubt it will be able to steamroll up and down the field. This is a risky one, but I’ll take the under.
NOTE: There will be no coverage of the season-long bets this week, but next week I will preview some rest of season bets, including division winners and MVP.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 8’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.