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 six 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 6 RECAP
HIT: Away team total points – Kansas City under 20.5 points at Minnesota @ 8/11
This game came to pass almost exactly as I predicted, but it didn’t exactly take a Nostradamus level of foresight to know the Chiefs offense was headed for the dumpster fire watch. The absence of Jamaal Charles has neutered this offense in so many ways, and the tandem of Charcandrick West and Knile Davis do not inspire confidence, or strike fear into opposing defenses. I have a feeling this is a bet I’ll be coming back to often this season.
HIT: Home team total points – New Orleans over 24 points vs. Atlanta @ 8/11
Drew Brees and a metronomic, if predictable, Saints passing attack managed to control this game, aided by a handful of costly Atlanta turnovers. The blocked punt touchdown was a huge boon that got the home team on their way, but the Saints are normally a solid bet to produce points at the Superdome. I’m not ready to say they’re back, but some oddsmakers might be slow to react to the fact that the Saints offense will have to score a lot to mask their shaky defense. Anything around 23.5 or 24 points is worth a punt as a bet on New Orleans.
MISS: Longest successful field goal – Robbie Gould (Chicago) at Detroit @ evens
This may have been a miss, but in field goal terms it would have hit both uprights, balanced precariously on the crossbar and fallen the wrong side after a heartstopping few moments. Detroit kicker Matt Prater hit a 39-yard field goal to beat reliable Robbie Gould’s effort by a yard. Just one yard was the difference in this bet. That won’t stop me from going back to the well. The logic was sound; sometimes it just doesn’t fall your way.
MISS: Jacksonville to beat Houston @ evens
Obviously I put far too much faith in the Jaguars’ ability to deliver – or perhaps drastically underrated a fiery Houston team. The lesson here is never to bet on Jacksonville. On a more serious note, this regime is in trouble after starting 1-5 and losing some winnable games in the division against Indianapolis and Houston. The best bet here – no pun intended – might be to stay away from the Jags until further notice.
SEASON TOTAL YTD: 16-8 (.666)
WEEK 7 PUNTS
Longest successful field goal – Phil Dawson (San Francisco) vs. Seattle @ 11/10
If you enjoy kicking, this may be just the game for you. Two quality kickers will be swinging their legs in Levi’s Stadium, with Phil Dawson and Steven Hauschka facing off. I had to ponder long and hard to decide which kicker to bet on, but ultimately Dawson was the choice because of the better odds and his success from long range this season. Dawson has made 10 of his 11 field goals in 2015 and if the game script goes as it should – with Seattle’s defense smothering San Francisco’s offense – he should have ample opportunity. Let’s hope we can get back on the winning trail with the kickers.
Away team total points – Atlanta over 26 points at Tennessee @ 5/6
With Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota day-to-day with a grade 2 MCL sprain, we could see Zach Mettenberger under center against Atlanta. The former LSU player saw plenty of action down the stretch last season and showed some flashes, but the offense will be completely different with him at the helm compared to Mariota. Expect some errors that could set up Atlanta in short fields. The big question mark here for the Falcons is the health of Julio Jones, with the hope being that he can be functional enough to keep the Titans defense honest. In a game Atlanta should control, 27-30 points seems reasonable.
Home team total points – New England under 30 points vs. New York Jets @ 5/6
It’s always a risk to bet on the Patriots not scoring a ton of points, but even against the Colts we saw that this roster is certainly not the infallible machine that it is made out to be. As long as the Jets refrain from ridiculous trick plays and play this game in Foxborough straight up with a physical, downhill running attack and a ball control passing game, they should limit the Patriots’ possessions and keep the score down. The Patriots front seven has played some excellent football through the first few weeks, so that won’t be easy, but 30 points is a lot for a vaunted defense like the Jets to give up. Take the under here.
Minnesota (-2.5) at Detroit @ 4/5
This line says that on a neutral field the Vikings would be favoured by 5.5 points, which sounds about right considering Detroit’s recent struggles. It is hard to trust the Vikings offense, but we have to remember how poor Detroit has looked during the first few weeks defensively and ignore last week – which, despite a win, was another horrid defensive display. Jump on the Vikings before this number creeps up to -3; they should win this comfortably.
WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS
Chicago Bears win total – UNDER 7
It was touch and go there for a while against the Lions, but the Bears couldn’t do quite enough to get their third win, dropping them to 2-4. The schedule is about to get a whole lot tougher, but I’ll give John Fox and his staff credit: they’re playing hard. Suddenly it appears as though this team won’t lie down in the face of adversity, and for anyone who took this bet that is a scary proposition. However, look at the next five games and tell me where the wins are coming from. A John Fox revenge win against the possibly undefeated Broncos would be a great story, but how likely is it? Bottom line: I’m feeling good the Bears don’t make it to seven wins. Next five games: MIN, @ SD, @ STL, DEN, @ GB
Tennessee Titans win total – OVER 5.5
This three-game home stand isn’t looking like it will bear any fruit for the Titans. It looks as though Marcus Mariota could miss at least a game with an MCL sprain, so step forward Mr. Mettenberger. I could see them pulling an upset against a Jekyll and Hyde Atlanta team, but it’s a long shot. The Titans’ best hope is to develop their passing attack beyond the basic reads they have been relying on, and have a nice surge towards the end of the year. Reaching six wins does look a tall task now, though.
Adrian Peterson’s disappointing game on Sunday in the box score seemed to match up with what we saw on the field. He does boast a steady 4.3 yards per carry, however, so all is not lost. The Vikings’ back to back NFC North contests at Detroit and at Chicago should have Peterson’s eyes lighting up.
As for Sam Bradford, another three interceptions on Monday night won’t help his cause, but a win against the Giants will. Of my two bets for Comeback Player, this is the one I am feeling less confident about. On the other hand, the NFC East is so wide open that I could see the Eagles surging into first place, winning it and in doing so securing this award for their error-prone quarterback.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 8’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.