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.
Things are beginning to settle down on the gambling side of things, but we’re getting out fair share of unforeseen results too. With five weeks of data behind us, more accurate lines will be released by the bookmakers and we need to be more discerning with our selections. Nevertheless, there are still those bets that can be exploited, especially among the less played markets like longest successful field goal, total points and more.
WEEK 5 RECAP
HIT: Away team total points – Jacksonville over 20.5 points at Tampa Bay @ 10/11
In my first 4-0 week of the season, the Jaguars offense was the first pleasant surprise. The battle in Florida with the Buccaneers wasn’t supposed to be such a high-scoring affair, but Blake Bortles obliged with a four touchdown outing in a losing effort. Tampa Bay still has plenty of work to do defensively, but they too might be a team to exploit with the away team total points market as Jameis Winston gets more comfortable.
HIT: Home team total points – Oakland under 20 points vs. Denver @ 4/5
History beckons for Denver’s defense. They are singlehandedly winning games for this team, masking the inefficiencies and mistakes of Peyton Manning with a smothering brand of play that makes me smile. The Raiders were never truly a threat here, and the pick six from Chris Harris Jr put the dagger in them. Keep riding the Denver defense in bets such as these, but beware of the overcorrection by the oddsmakers.
HIT: Longest successful field goal – Greg Zuerlein (St Louis) at Green Bay @ 5/4
A feisty St Louis defense gave them every chance to stay competitive in Lambeau Field; it was the offense that let them down, or more specifically Nick Foles and the offensive line. Nevertheless, old reliable Greg Zuerlein came up trumps with a 42-yard field goal. It should be noted it was his only successful attempt out of four, a rarity for him. The longest successful field goal market continues to be a winner.
HIT: New England Patriots (-8) at Dallas Cowboys @ 10/11
Around midway through the second quarter as I was watching this game, I realised how much more competitive it would have been had Tony Romo been healthy. The Patriots offense struggled with an active Cowboys front seven that disguised well. The return of Greg Hardy was an instant boost to the pass rush. We all know how the story ended – with New England covering – but be aware that despite the air of invincibility surrounding Bill Belichick’s team, they can be exploited in the right match-up.
SEASON TOTAL YTD: 14-6 (.700)
WEEK 6 PUNTS
Away team total points – Kansas City under 20.5 points at Minnesota @ 8/11
The Chiefs offense just doesn’t pass the eye test. The news that Jamaal Charles will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL is the kick to the crotch this faltering unit could ill afford. A tricky clash awaits for the 1-4 Chiefs in Minnesota, who are fresh off a bye. You will have to pay a vig on this bet, but I feel very confident the Vikings defense – which has improved steadily all season – can put the muzzle on the Chiefs.
Home team total points – New Orleans over 24 points vs. Atlanta @ 8/11
If you’ve watched Atlanta’s games, you’ll have seen a pattern whereby they barely get over the line with fourth quarter magic – or simply blow an opponent out. The Saints, make no mistake, are not a great team. Trusting them in this spot could be a huge error on my part, especially with the rumblings about Sean Payton and the cloud of despair that has descended over this franchise. And yet, in a primetime setting in front of their home fans, I find myself being suckered into it. The vertical element of the Saints offense is not what it used to be, but Drew Brees is still smart enough to find the weaknesses in Atlanta’s fiery defense. This game should be a 30-27 affair, so I’m backing the Saints to top 24.
Longest successful field goal – Robbie Gould (Chicago) at Detroit @ evens
It’s back again, except this time I’m riding the leg of Robbie Gould (you know what I mean). Gould has made all 11 of his field goals this season, so you can rest assured that in the dome at Ford Field he shouldn’t have any problems. The Lions are 0-5 and floundering, so this is a good spot for the 2-3 Bears to come in and kick their division rivals while they’re down. Let’s just hope it’s Gould doing the kicking.
Jacksonville to beat Houston @ evens
The fact that Houston is slight favourites as far as straight up betting in this game confuses me. Maybe the oddsmakers have a short memory, or maybe they just don’t trust Jacksonville a lick. Whatever the case may be, I feel this one is a no-brainer to jump onto. The Jaguars haven’t played a complete game yet, but this could be a golden opportunity. Brian Hoyer is likely to start, and that should give Houston’s offense a bit more stability, but as we saw against the Colts, the mistake is always there waiting to happen.
WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS
Chicago Bears win total – UNDER 7
Okay, so clearly the Bears have been reading this column for motivation. Since I essentially wrote them off two weeks ago, they have turned 0-3 into 2-3. Winning in Arrowhead is no mean feat, so credit where it is due. That said, I’m still not confident they can reach the elusive seven wins they’ll need. The next five look pretty tough, with the one win there likely coming in Detroit. Next five games: @ DET, MIN, @ SD, @ STL, DEN
Tennessee Titans win total – OVER 5.5
Losing a game like that to the Bills – by a point – is tough on Tennessee backers, but they will only need four more wins to get over the hump with this bet. A visit from the Dolphins this week should be a nice boost and provide a much-needed victory. This team can hang; they just need to learn how to win.
Nothing boosts a Comeback Player of the Year bid quite like playing the Saints defense, right Sam? Bradford threw two red zone interceptions to leave a big ugly blotch on his scorecard in a straightforward home win, but the hope is that people will remember the good things he did. The Eagles offense won’t look like this every week, but Bradford backers will be hoping this performance can kickstart his confidence.
Adrian Peterson was chilling at home this week, but he is firmly in the frame for Comeback Player, with dark horse Eric Berry making ground on the outside as we approach the halfway point of the season.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 7’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.