Inside Slant: Week 7

Dave Larkin runs down his best bets to consider for Week 7.

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 feel like a broken record here, but doesn’t it seem as though the NFL this season is harder to predict than ever before? If you honestly made a list of teams you knew were good quality units who should compete for the Super Bowl, how many would you be able to rhyme off? Trust me, you would struggle after four or five.

All this makes gambling on this sport we love that much more intriguing as a weekly prospect; just when you think you know the story, the 2016 storybook slaps you over the head with an almighty thump, reminding you of your ignorance. The up-and-down nature of the season is what makes it fun, so we won’t let that stop us from making ill-advised wagers.

So let’s embrace the craziness and get back on track after a mediocre Week 6 in the win column.


WEEK 6 RECAP

WIN: Away team total points Kansas City over 24 points at Oakland @ evens

Was there ever a doubt the Chiefs would win this game? With good luck charm Andy Reid on the sidelines, who now boasts a 16-2 record off a bye, Kansas City made short work of their division rivals. Alex Smith continues to be that unspectacular game manager, but that is exactly the mold of quarterback Reid looks for. The mantra is: don’t blow it, and our defense will do the rest. The Chiefs schedule down the stretch looks favourable, so we may be coming back to the well.

LOSS: Total points under 44 - Cleveland at Tennessee @ 20/21

A thriller in Nashville unfolded on Sunday as the plucky Browns showed their never-say-die attitude under Hue Jackson. Cody Kessler, to his credit, kept firing darts until the final drive – and Terrelle Pryor looks like a long-term option for them. My expectation was that the Titans would keep the Browns offense under wraps – and they did for a long period – but the old garbage time points often come back to bite gamblers in the behind.

PUSH: Home team total points: San Diego under 21 points vs. Denver @ 5/6

My first push of the year, but the logic was sound in predicting that the Broncos defense would hold the Chargers to 21 or under. That ignores the fact the home team had no business scoring only 21 points against a Broncos team that simply did not look like itself. Mike McCoy looked as if he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown on the sidelines as his conservatism only grew stronger as the seconds ticked away. The ‘Cardiac Chargers’ are better than most think, while the Broncos have work to do offensively.

LOSS: Two-team teaser: New England Patriots (-2.5) & Pittsburgh (-1.5)

Oh, Pittsburgh… you had to go and blow it, didn’t you? Mike Tomlin’s record against teams with a .300 or worse winning percentage on the road makes for humbling reading if you’re a Steelers fan. Simply put, this team plays down to their level of competition. New England did something similar for most of the game against Cincinnati before turning up the heat in the fourth quarter to ice it. Two-team bets are inherently risky, so I might avoid them in future.

WEEK 6 RECORD: 1-2-1
SEASON RECORD: 12-11-1 (0.500)


WEEK 7 PUNTS

Away team total points (Buffalo) over 23.5 at Miami @ 5/6

The line for this game reads Miami -2.5 at open, which I believe is showing a little bit too much respect for the home team. After all, they have been looked poor in almost every game; perhaps Vegas is assigning too much meaning to their win last week. The Bills, meanwhile, are on a four-game winning streak and have a rushing offense that can rival the best in the league. Once dead and buried, this team is a force to be reckoned with. Travelling to Miami won’t faze them, and they should be able to reach that key number of 24 points and pick up a win for their trouble.

Home team total points (Philadelphia) under 20 vs. Minnesota @ 8/11

The Vikings are sitting pretty at 5-0 and will be rested coming off their bye, while the Eagles are licking their wounds. This has trap game for Minnesota written all over it, but as the old phrase goes: defense travels. The Vikings defense has been unstoppable thus far, and poor Carson Wentz may be about to feel the full force of ‘Purple Reign’. Twenty points is a low bar, but which side of this equation do you feel better about? I know who I’m siding with. Prediction: Vikings 24 Eagles 17

Oakland to beat Jacksonville @ evens

This one absolutely shocks me. The Jaguars are capable of beating Oakland, yes, but the Raiders have been the proverbial road warriors this season. Travelling across the country for one of the longest road trips in the league shouldn’t be a problem for them. Derek Carr is playing at a high level, and he should have his way against a Jacksonville defense still finding its feet. I am not sure where this respect for Jacksonville is coming from, but I’ll take my chances with Raider Nation here.

First quarter total: Chicago at Green Bay over 9.5 points @ 4/5

Thursday night games tend to throw up some strange results, but I feel confident the Pack will rebound from Sunday’s bitter loss with a victory against their old rivals. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t look like Aaron Rodgers of old, but that doesn’t mean he can’t slice and dice this Bears defense. I am banking on a fast start from the home team, so taking the over 9.5 points seems like a solid way to go about it.

WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS

Dallas Cowboys UNDER 9.5 wins @ 5/6

Well, well, well… how ‘bout them Cowboys? I think we can safely ignore the calls for Tony Romo to return as the starting quarterback – how could you put him back in and screw up this mojo? When I made this bet I assumed the Cowboys would be headed for another mediocre campaign; little did I know the Dak Attack would take the NFL by storm. I tip my hat to the kid. The next four games don’t look too bad either.
Next four games: v PHI, @ CLE, @ PIT, v BAL

Tennessee to win AFC South @ 17/2

At 3-3, anything is possible. The Titans took care of business when the Browns came to town, but this week comes the real test. I know the Colts aren’t exactly juggernauts right now – far from it, actually – but if the Titans can win this one they have a legitimate shot. Even if they lose they can seize this division title, but knocking the Colts down to 2-5 would end their season.
Next four games: v IND, v JAX, @ SD, v GB


Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 8’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.