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.
My radar has been off for the past couple of weeks, and for that I have to lay at your feet and apologise. This NFL beast is a tough one to tame, as many of you will know. Strangely, I ended up tripling my original wager during the late stages of the early games on Sunday, taking a punt on the Raiders in overtime and only losing out on the Packers/Falcons total by a point.
In this week’s column, as well as making my picks for the Week 9 games, I will be providing a look at the best bets for the rest of the season. Let’s get into it, shall we?
WEEK 8 RECAP
WIN: Oakland Raiders (+1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ 20/21
The lone bright spot of the week was my bet on the Raiders, who now boast an impressive 5-0 road record. They may not have beaten any quality teams yet, but they’re well on their way to a playoff berth. The Bucs handed them this game in every way possible, but that doesn’t take away from this win. It is the second week in a row the Raiders have been disrespected as a road underdog, and both times I have capitalized. Can I just do a bet per week on Raider Nation and Blackjack Del Rio?
LOSS: Away team total points: Arizona over 23.5 points at Carolina @ 5/6
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t crushed this bet didn’t come off. Why, you ask? Because I am a diehard Panthers fan. The truth is I expected much more from the Cardinals, but the Panthers’ pass rush put any sniff of a chance for Arizona to bed quickly. The Cardinals got into a rhythm late in the game and could have secured the total points through the back door, but a late interception by Super Bowl hero Kony Ealy extinguished those hopes.
LOSS: Home team total points: Indianapolis over 24 points vs. Kansas City @ evens
The Colts are a team best avoided for gambling purposes. The very definition of a Jekyll and Hyde team, they tend to flop when faced with quality opposition. The Chiefs certainly fit that bill – and mauled the Colts like a good team should. Even with Alex Smith and Spencer Ware missing time, Andy Reid and the offense didn’t miss a beat. It is time to take this Chiefs team seriously.
LOSS: Total points: Green Bay @ Atlanta under 52.5 points @ 10/11
Live betting in the mid-first quarter of this game had the total rocketing up to 64.5. I was all over it, taking the under. Unfortunately a few plays went against me and the score – 33-32 – meant the total was just exceeded. A bad beat, sure, so I don’t feel so bad. I do feel bad for not trusting my gut to take the over here. Both defenses have their flaws and both quarterbacks are playing out of their minds; I just never expected such a shootout. Lesson learned, I think.
WEEK 8 RECORD: 1-3
SEASON RECORD: 14-17-1 (0.437)
WEEK 9 PUNTS
Away team total points: Jacksonville over 17 points at Kansas City @ 5/6
Even in defeat, the Jaguars offense tends to be reliable when it comes to scoring points. Garbage time is difficult to predict, but this is where Blake Bortles thrives. The Chiefs should be able to take care of business here, but 17 points is a very low total for the Jaguars to hit. I didn’t even hesitate when I saw this one.
Home team total points: Oakland under 22.5 points vs. Denver @ 10/11
The Broncos, until they were edged out by the Chargers a few weeks ago, held one of the best unbeaten runs in road divisions game ever. The Raiders have been red hot this season, but teams with a young nucleus can sometimes fracture under the scrutiny of a winning record. To top it off, this game is on Sunday Night Football and there will be a lot of expectations hovering around the home team. Denver is the more veteran-laden roster and they should enjoy the occasion. The Broncos have kept all but Atlanta and San Diego this season to 21 points or less.
Total points under 41 – Detroit at Minnesota @ 10/11
The Vikings have seen 71.4% of their games this season go under the total. Vegas is compensating by continuing to lower it, but 41 isn’t low enough for me to shy away here. The Lions are 4-4 this season against the total, but the Vikings defense should be able to disrupt Matthew Stafford’s rhythm like Houston did last week. The home team will be smarting after losing on Monday night, so a comfortable Minnesota victory is on the cards here. Prediction: Lions 10, Vikings 23
Philadelphia to beat New York Giants @ 59/50
The Eagles went toe to toe with one of the heavyweight of the NFC in Dallas and almost pulled off an improbable victory. Facing a Giants team that is, quite frankly, flattered by its 4-3 record shouldn’t faze Doug Pederson’s team. The Eagles front seven has the edge as far as pass rush, and no matter what anyone tells me I’m not sold on Eli Manning. Either he is carrying an injury or his skills have declined, but this offense is anaemic at times. What is stopping the Eagles from grabbing a road win here?
REST OF SEASON PUNTS
The fact that Tom Brady, who missed four games, is the leader in the clubhouse for MVP is astounding and another example of why he is such a special player. The value lies elsewhere, however, and the player I like to find his groove is Aaron Rodgers. Yes, the numbers are there for Rodgers, but this past Sunday was the first time all season that he has truly clicked. New faces at receiver did not matter; he played like an MVP. The Packers will need to win their division and finish the season strong – and Brady will have to stumble – but Rodgers is more than capable.
NFC Championship winner
The contenders: Seattle 3/1; Dallas 5/1; Minnesota 11/2
My pick: Atlanta 13/2
It shocks me that Seattle is still favourites for the NFC Championship despite the clear flaws on their roster. Dallas and Minnesota make sense as possibilities, but the Falcons look to be the best value at 13/2. The Georgia Dome gives them a nice homefield advantage if they are to secure it in the playoffs. While the run-in isn’t easy by any means, this team has enough to squeak out a road win and make the Super Bowl. Travelling to Seattle shouldn’t scare them if it comes to that.
AFC West champion
My pick: Kansas City 6/4
Don’t count out the Chiefs, ladies and gentlemen. They are only a game back on co-leaders of the AFC West Oakland and Denver, but they are as consistent as teams come. It is not an easy run-in – much like Atlanta – but the Broncos and Raiders have their warts and won’t be winning every game. I think 11 wins gets this division title, and the Chiefs have the players and coaching to do it.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 10’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.