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 was a pretty wild Week 2, with underdogs like the Jets, Falcons, Broncos, Jaguars and Browns all covering. The biggest takeaway to glean from the first two weeks is that this season is still in the embryonic stage; teams don’t yet know who they are, so how can we expect to know who they are? Patient deliberation over gambling lines that look like overreactions or underreactions are those we should aim to exploit.
WEEK 2 RECAP
MISS: Washington Redskins under 19.5 points vs. St Louis Rams @ 10/11
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of the St Louis Rams is not to be trusted. If we learned anything this week, that was it. Or perhaps it was that the Washington Redskins – yes, those Redskins – are a better team than we first thought. It is sometimes too easy to buy into the offseason doom and gloom talk surrounding a team; maybe we are all guilty of that. Washington’s improved front seven and commitment to run the football and shorten games is a formula that won’t work every week, but they need to be respected more than they currently are.
MISS: Kansas City Chiefs under 23 points vs. Denver Broncos @ 10/11
This bet was going to script up until the Broncos offense under Peyton Manning came to life late on. The Chiefs did not score their touchdown to take them above 23 points until there was a little over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. This is not to explain away my original bet, but simply to put in context how cruel gambling can be. Even when we base our bets on perfect logic and accurately predict the game script, things can come undone in the blink of an eye. Miss, but not by much.
HIT: New York Jets (+7) at Indianapolis Colts
I said I didn’t trust the Colts offensive line coming into this game last week, and that unit – combined with some terrific defense from the Jets at all levels – proved to be the undoing of the home team. Andrew Luck was harassed from start to finish. The Colts were never truly in the game. It’s time we gave some more respect to the Jets, who welcome the hapless Eagles offense to MetLife Stadium this week.
HIT: Longest successful field goal – Denver (Brandon McManus) at Kansas City
This bet could well become a staple of the weekly bets. Through two weeks, Brandon McManus has been automatic from 50+ yards, putting it right down the middle every time with robot-like precision. The majority of gamblers are not wise to the value that bets such as this one can provide, but there’s great value to be had.
SEASON TOTAL YTD: 4-4 (.500)
WEEK 3 PUNTS
Longest successful field goal – Greg Zuerlein (Rams) vs. Pittsburgh @ 5/6
I’m going back to the well with kickers, ladies and gentlemen. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein has made all three of his attempts this season and should have ample opportunity for more against a porous (to put it lightly) Steelers defense. On the flip side, Pittsburgh showed how little faith it has in kicker Josh Scobee after opting to go for two on several occasions last week. This all adds up to a promising set of circumstances for the Rams and Zuerlein.
New England Patriots over 31 points vs. Jacksonville @ 10/11
The Tom Brady Revenge Tour is well and truly underway. This week, the upstart Jaguars come to Foxboro hoping to build on their promising victory over Miami. The only problem is, they are about to run into a buzz saw. If last week’s statement win over the Bills wasn’t enough to convince you of the Patriots’ cruel intentions this year, I don’t know what is. If you are going to trust any offense to reach 31 points at home, I would suggest New England is an excellent bet.
Race to 10 points – Tampa Bay at Houston @ 13/8
The Bucs showed last week why it is unwise to overreact to one bad game as a gambler. If people had played it smart and taken the 10 points, they would be laughing their way to the bank right now. Indeed, 10 could be a magic number again for Lovie Smith’s team this week as they travel to Houston. With the caveat that the Bucs offensive line should struggle to contain Houston’s defensive line pressure, I see no reason why the Bucs can’t reach 10 points first if they have the right game plan. Watching Ryan Mallett play quarterback last week was not pretty, and the Bucs have a 50-50 shot of forcing him into a mistake, possibly leading to a defensive score. The value at 13/8 is pretty enticing here.
Washington Redskins total points over 20.5 @ evens
See what I mean about no respect for the Redskins? I realise it’s a divisional road game, but the New York Giants defense has done nothing to inspire me through two weeks. In fact, they have surrendered two 10-point leads in the fourth quarter. Not a recipe for success. If the Redskins offense plays it smart, they can exploit the holes in New York’s back seven. Reaching 21 points is the minimum I expect from them. Jump on this bet before it rises to 21.
WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS
Chicago Bears win total – UNDER 6.5
Things have gone from bad to worse for the 0-2 Bears after news of Jay Cutler’s hamstring injury. He is due to miss two weeks – at Seattle and Oakland – but these issues can linger even when he returns to play. Jimmy Clausen takes over at the helm for this sinking ship that could easily go 0-4, with tougher games to come down the stretch.
Tennessee Titans win total – OVER 5.5
A setback this week in a winnable contest for the 1-1 Titans, but not a disaster by any means. Marcus Mariota once again showed decent poise in a late comeback effort. If the Titans can bag another win from this upcoming four-game home run – Indianapolis, Buffalo, Miami, Atlanta – they should be in a position to take advantage of a handy end-of-season schedule to reach six wins.
Chip Kelly has said he will consider all options to get his team back on track. Sam Bradford looked a bit in over his head in Week 2, but it’s not time to pull the plug yet. Remember when people were throwing dirt on the Patriots last year? They won the Super Bowl. I’m not saying Philadelphia is going anywhere near San Francisco and Super Bowl 50, but they’re a better team than they’ve shown. Bradford’s bid is not done yet.
Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, showed his worth to the Vikings with a workmanlike 100+ total yard performance. Peterson lacks the scary burst of old, but he has more than enough to power this Vikings offense forward.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 4’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.