Inside Slant: Week 14

Dave Larkin bets on Mother Nature to deliver in this week's best bets. 

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.

From a personal standpoint this week was all about learning lessons, the most important of which was not to get too big for your boots. Coming off a 3-1 week I swung for the fences on a few bets – and I let you, my readers, and myself down with some punts that were shanked out of bounds.

I vow to redress the balance this week with a perfect showing of 4-0; let’s see what we can do as we recap last week and then check out the Week 14 slate.


WEEK 13 RECAP

LOSS: Away team total points: Los Angeles over 14.5 points at New England @ 10/11

I knew the Rams offense would be inept, but for them to score just 10 points – and for Jeff Fisher to check every possible pocket before locating his challenge flag – was just ludicrous. Jared Goff has a lot of work to do before we can even consider him a franchise saviour. The defense can only do so much, after all. The Rams’ totals for over/unders continue to be hammered down to the lowest possible numbers; this might be one to exploit if it dips too low.

WIN: Home team total points: Jacksonville under 17.5 points vs. Denver @ 10/11

A pick that was fairly obvious in hindsight turned out to be correct as the Broncos defense stifled the Jaguars offense and, like a Boa constrictor sucking the life out of its prey, finished them off. Blake Bortles’ post-game admissions about the team and the offense were not encouraging. I hate to kick a team when it is down, but the Jaguars are one we should keep an eye on.

LOSS: San Francisco 49ers to beat Chicago @ 11/10

In my defense, when I checked the forecast for this one last week there was no sign of snow. Sure, it would be a cold day in Chicago but surely the conditions would be suitable for at least some offense for the 49ers? I should have known that Colin Kaepernick and the offense would turn back into pumpkins, especially in cold weather. Plus, John Fox teams are great at playing hard when there is nothing to play for.

LOSS: Total points under 49: Kansas City at Atlanta @ 10/11

This was an incredible game start to finish, and one that perhaps should have had me leaning more strongly to the over. The Chiefs offense is capable of putting together long drives, while the Atlanta defense is prone to giving up such drives. In retrospect, the pick was easily over.

WEEK 13 RECORD: 1-3-0
SEASON RECORD: 23-27-2 (0.442)


WEEK 14 PUNTS

San Diego under 24 points at Carolina @ 10/11

The Panthers, despite their 4-8 record, are not a terrible team. Yes, they have suffered through a succession of near-misses and injuries, but the talent is there to put up a good fight in any game. Back home after a long West Coast road trip, Ron Rivera’s team will be chomping at the bit to salvage some pride. The Chargers have to travel east for an early kickoff, so they could be slow starters here. Remember what happened to the Cardinals earlier this season when they came east to face Carolina? It was a disaster for the road team. If Luke Kuechly is back, all the better, but I fancy the Panthers to show up defensively and give the Chargers problems.

Jacksonville under 17.5 points vs. Minnesota @ 10/11

This is a repeat of last week’s bet, and why shouldn’t we go back to the well? Unless Sam Bradford throws this one away the Vikings have an excellent chance of holding this putrid offense to under 17 points. The Cowboys could only muster 17 points against Minnesota, after all. What makes anyone think the Jaguars will do any better? This one has Blake Bortles pick-six written all over it.

Oakland at Kansas City – under 46.5 points @ 4/5

One thing has served me very well recently in my bets – betting on Mother Nature. The under in the Houston/Green Bay game was a slam dunk, and all it needed was a little check on nflweather.com. It is an excellent resource for early forecasts, and this Thursday’s clash of AFC West heavyweights looks to be a frigid one. In fact, lows of 23F are predicted, with winds around 10MPH. This could be a slugfest (the early season meeting finished 26-10 to the Chiefs, incidentally) so I am hammering the under.

Seattle at Green Bay – under 46.5 points @ 10/11

It is the same story here, folks. The total is just too high for a game that is expected to be played in snow flurries. The Seahawks defense should be able to keep the Packers under wraps, but how well will the Seattle offense be able to operate in slippery underfoot conditions? Hammer the under on this one before it drops too low – much like the temperatures will.


Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 15’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.