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.
A fruitful week from a gambling perspective has the wind in my sails ahead of the delectable Thanksgiving slate. Three wins out of four on my best bets will do nicely. With this column being released earlier than usual this week due to the holidays, be sure to follow me on Twitter @davlar87 for my latest musings as game day approaches.
Before we get to the feast of the Week 12 slate, let’s look back and analyse what went right in the Week 11 bets (my favorite kind of analysis, incidentally).
WEEK 11 RECAP
WIN: Total points under 40.5 – Miami at Los Angeles @ 10/11
This was almost too easy. Not quite ‘taking candy from a baby’ easy, but not too far off. After an encouraging start which saw Todd Gurley bound off right tackle into the end zone, the first start in Jared Goff’s career was largely unspectacular. The Dolphins clawed their way back late, but their 14-point splurge didn’t have me sweating at all. The Rams defense will keep nearly every game they play a low scoring affair – and so it proved here.
LOSS: Home team total points over 27.5 – New York Giants @ 10/11
It stings to lose a bet by only four points, but the Giants started slow at home and had to wrestle the momentum back from the Bears in the second half. The great equaliser – the weather – played its part too in a tight game that ended, like so many Jay Cutler games, with a turnover of his making. As the elements begin to play more of a part in games, teams with good defenses – and the Giants are one of them – will be good bets for the under.
WIN: Longest successful field goal – Justin Tucker (Baltimore) @ 6/5
Amid the calamitous kicks we witnessed around the league yesterday, one man stood above it all and said: ‘I’m not letting Dave down. He’s been on a bad run and he deserves a break’. That man was Justin Tucker, the Ravens kicker who has still yet to miss a field goal or extra point this season. This bet looked too good to be true when I made it, and it was an easy win in the end.
WIN: Detroit (-6.5) v Jacksonville @ 20/21
The Lions took it down to the wire as usual, but they squeaked past the Jaguars by the seven points needed to win this bet. Detroit seems to be getting the breaks this season in some respects, but their playoff destiny lies in their own hands. Betting on them is always a fun exercise, as their fourth quarter comeback efforts can raise the blood pressure at the best of times. Imagine how Lions fans feel.
WEEK 11 RECORD: 3-1-0
SEASON RECORD: 19-23-2 (0.43)
WEEK 12 PUNTS
Away team total points: Washington over 21 points at Dallas @ 10/11
If nothing else, the Ravens showed us that the Cowboys defense can be attacked. Amid the air of invincibility surrounding America’s Team, their defense has largely been ignored as it produces steady week after steady week. An offense like Washington’s should have enough firepower to give it trouble, though. Kirk Cousins is playing very efficiently right now and the mix of run and pass has clicked well. I would like to see this drop to 20.5 points, but at the key number of 21 it is still worth a punt. What a great game to watch as you tuck in to your Thanksgiving treats.
Longest successful field goal: R. Aguayo (Tampa Bay) @ 11/10
I’m back on the kicker bandwagon this week. Several members of the bandwagon have had their membership rescinded due to persistently missing straightforward extra points, but one leg that has been on point recently is that of Roberto Aguayo. The Bucs have smartly stuck with the rookie, and he is rewarding them with solid production. In what should be a game of few opportunities against the Seahawks’ swarming defense, Aguayo has a good chance to nail a 40+ yard attempt.
Handicap double: New York Giants (-7) & San Diego (+1) @ 3/1
It’s rare that I dip my toe into the double pool, but in this case I can’t resist. I believe some of the lines this week will be hammered by the smart gamblers and we’ll see line swings before kickoff. The Giants are inexplicably only giving seven against the Browns, perhaps a sign of how little faith Vegas has in Ben McAdoo’s 7-3 squad. Meanwhile, San Diego is fresh off a bye and is getting points at Houston, a team that is offensively challenged. I feel better about the Giants than the Chargers, but I’m pretty confident this one will come off.
Home team total points: New York Jets under 19 points vs. New England @ 10/11
Make whatever plane joke you want about the Jets. The bottom line is that they are just not a very good team right now. The Patriots coming to town is probably their worst nightmare realised. Whether it is Bryce Petty or Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback for the home team, it does not matter one bit. This is a great opportunity for the much-maligned Pats defense to feast.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 13’s slate of games. Have a very happy Thanksgiving! Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.