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.
It has been a rollercoaster season in my maiden voyage as an amateur bettor. I hope that I’ve been able to give you some decent advice along the way, but ultimately we are doing this for fun. The final week of the regular season looms large, with plenty of interesting games to dissect.
Let’s have a look through the Week 17 bets after recapping last week’s action.
WEEK 16 RECAP
MISS: New England Patriots (-3) at New York Jets @ 5/6
Conspiracy theorists will posit that the Patriots intentionally took their foot off the gas in overtime to adversely affect the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs. I’m not sure this strategy will pay off in the long run: would the Pats really prefer to face their division rival Jets in the postseason? Yes, the Steelers offense is explosive, but they are a flawed team at times. This was another excellent showing by the Jets, who fought like it was a playoff game. Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing his best football and if these teams meet again in the postseason I might be taking the Jets and the points.
HIT: Total points under 47.5 – Pittsburgh at Baltimore @ 10/11
As I touched on last week in my column, this bet had no rhyme or reason to it: it was simply a gut feeling that the script would be flipped due to the divisional rivalry. And it was – in a big way. Pittsburgh’s offense stalled as the Ravens gave up the run, but inconsistent offensive football and a heroic effort by Baltimore brought this bet home comfortably. I’ll take a little blind luck when I can get it.
MISS: Away team total points – Carolina over 27.5 points at Atlanta @ 10/11
Nobody could have predicted the Panthers would pick this week, against a team they blew out 38-0 only two weeks earlier, to put up a stinker on offense. Credit has to go to Atlanta’s defense, who harassed Cam Newton and limited the Carolina offense’s possessions. I make no apologies for betting on a team who had scored 30+ points for fun over the past several weeks.
HIT: Washington Redskins to win at Philadelphia @ 27/20
I’m pleased that this bet came off. You might even say I liked that – a lot. The Eagles continue to be a train wreck on defense, and they don’t have much to hang their hat on offensively either. So confident was Kirk Cousins that the ‘Skins would win, he intentionally took a knee at the end of the first half, passing up the opportunity to tack on an extra three. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t his thought process at the time, but how cocky would that be if it really was? The Redskins survived the NFC East grime and are now in the playoffs as the ‘How Did They Get In’ team.
SEASON TOTAL YTD: 32-31-1 (.500)
WEEK 17 PUNTS
New York Giants (-3.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles @ 11/10
Hang on, betting on the Giants can’t be a fuzzy proposition for gamblers, can it? In this case, we might be in some luck. It is pretty clear the Giants came out deflated against the Vikings and, once it became clear the game was out of reach, they went into their shells and rolled over. Tom Coughlin seemed at a loss to explain the nature of the defeat, but I still believe these players have one big performance in them for the (soon to be departed?) Coughlin. The Eagles, as has been well documented, are a bad football team with a horrific defense. The extra half point in the line gives me a slight pause, but at home I have faith the Giants can bounce back and finish strong.
Buffalo Bills (+3) vs. New York Jets @ 20/23
Buffalo running back Boobie Dixon has called this game the Bills’ Super Bowl. A similar rhetoric was tossed around about the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game last week. Could history repeat itself? Well obviously I think it can. The Bills embarrassed the Jets only a few weeks ago on a Thursday night in New Jersey, making Ryan Fitzpatrick and this offense look ordinary. Yes, there has been a lot of grumblings about Rex Ryan’s schemes, but the Bills offense is functional enough to cause the Jets problems. In a low-scoring affair, take the points.
Home team total points – Carolina over 29.5 points vs. Tampa Bay @ 5/6
The Panthers have been prolific on offense every week except last week, and I expect a really strong response against Tampa Bay. The Bucs have pride, but they are out of it and will be looking towards the offseason if the Panthers can jump out to an early lead. The total of 29.5 points is high, but points have come in bunches in Carolina’s home games. With the No 1 seed on the line, expect the Panthers to fire on all cylinders.
New Orleans Saints to win at Atlanta @ 9/5
This is another punt, but one definitely worth taking at those odds. The Saints have their warts – notably Brandon Browner – but they are more than capable of beating Atlanta. Drew Brees seemed to be unbothered by the plantar fascia injury, so this offense shouldn’t slow down. Atlanta had their Super Bowl last week, so a letdown will be on the cards here.
WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS
Chicago Bears win total – UNDER 7
With the Bears’ somewhat unexpected win in Tampa last week, this bet is going down to the wire. I expect the Lions to give the Bears a good game on Sunday, but the cold weather will suit the home team so a Chicago victory is well within reach.
Final games: DET
Tennessee Titans win total – OVER 5.5
Need I say more? This one is well and truly over. Final games: @ IND
Adrian Peterson took the lead in the clubhouse as far as rushing champion goes, so he is a strong contender to take this award as we approach the final week.
Happy New Year to everyone and make sure to come back next season for more attempts at predicting the future and winning more money than we won this year. You can follow me on Twitter @davlar87.