Inside Slant: Week 16

Dave Larkin breaks down some bets to consider for the penultimate regular season 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.

They say 55% is a pretty good benchmark to aim for if you want to call yourself ‘good’ at gambling. I have let myself down this season with a mark of 46% thus far, this season continuing to prove as elusive as a slippery eel in butter-laced fingers. There are bad beats along the way, but all we can do is roll with the punches and provide a shock to the system.

Gambling is a weekly beast, and last week proved a distinctly average outing for yours truly. Let’s check on what went right – and wrong – in Week 15 before delving into the penultimate weekend of regular season action.


WEEK 15 RECAP

WIN: Under 41.5 points – Detroit at New York Giants @ 5/6

Betting on the under in Giants games has become the new go-to trend for gamblers, and with good reason. This New York defense is legitimate – shutdown, even – and has singlehandedly blanked offenses time and time again this year. Whether the Giants can knock off an Atlanta or Detroit in the wildcard round remains to be seen, but as they say: defense travels. The Lions offense wasn’t as hampered by Matthew Stafford’s finger injury as I had thought, but the result was the same. They can’t make these Giants totals low enough, if you ask me.

LOSS: Seattle Seahawks over 27 points vs. Los Angeles @ 5/6

In a typically wacky Thursday night affair, the Seahawks offense did just enough to not quite get over the key number of 27 points. The Rams defense provided some resistance, with the offense’s ineptitude ultimately proving costly. I find it hard to trust the ‘Hawks at the moment, partly because their offensive line remains a question mark and partly because they seem as up and down as a rollercoaster.

WIN: Oakland Raiders under 26.5 points at San Diego @ 5/6

In a tight AFC West clash, the Raiders secured a playoff berth in front of a stadium mostly filled with rabid, jeering Oakland fans. It was quite a sight to behold seeing the Silver and Black faithful outnumbering San Diego’s fans, but not necessarily a surprise. Raider Nation always travels well for road games and, well, the Chargers’ fans are lacking in enthusiasm right now for various reasons.

LOSS: Arizona (-2.5) vs. New Orleans @ 10/11

A scoregasm, if you’ll pardon the term, took place in Arizona on Sunday, starring Drew Brees and Carson Palmer. The decision to give points here was perhaps foolish on my part considering Arizona’s lack of form, but the homefield advantage swayed it for me. Throw in the fact that the Saints don’t travel well and it seemed like a slam dunk. Not to be, but the lesson here is this: if in doubt, take the points.

WEEK 15 RECORD: 2-2-0
SEASON RECORD: 28-30-2 (0.464)


WEEK 16 PUNTS

Total points under 43.5 – Tennessee at Jacksonville @ 10/11

I am swimming against the tide here, folks. The Jaguars and Titans have both gone 9-5 to the over this season so far. Call it a hunch, but I can see this being an ugly, low-scoring affair with the Titans wearing Jacksonville down with their ground game and a controlled passing attack. The Jaguars have shown signs of life in the last few weeks, but surely they are on the verge of booking their tee times in January. Meanwhile, Tennessee is fighting to book a playoff place. Prediction: Titans 23, Jaguars 17

Longest successful field goal: R. Aguayo (Tampa) at New Orleans @ evens

Roberto Aguayo was the butt of many jokes at the beginning of the season as the second round pick endured a rough start to his rookie season. Since then, he has turned things around. For this bet’s purposes, he has attempted nine field goals over the past four weeks. The Bucs’ style of play – close to the vest, controlled offense and stingy defense – lends itself to field goals ending drives. In the Superdome, the rookie should have ample opportunity for points.

Cincinnati to beat Houston @ evens

Now let’s not all jump on the Tom Savage bandwagon at once, people. Remember that this is a guy who was backing up Brock Osweiler for almost an entire season. I realise money was a big factor in ol’ Brock getting the starting job, but Savage may not be the answer either. Yes, the Bengals are out of the playoffs, but they are a talented team that has simply fallen on hard times. Houston’s defense might have something to say about it, but I am backing the Bengals to steal a victory here.

Carolina Panthers over 26 points vs. Atlanta @ 5/6

They say you should never bet on your own team, but my Panthers showed me something on Monday Night Football. There was a crispness to the offense that started with excellent pass protection. This offensive line appears to be gelling at just the right time despite the ‘square peg in round hole’ necessity of certain positions (right guard Trai Turner playing right tackle, for instance). The Falcons can throw a variety of looks at Carolina – and they will score their points – but outdoors in December anything is possible. The Panthers would love nothing more than to play spoiler, so exceeding 26 points against a porous Atlanta defense is a near certainty.


Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 17’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.