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.
There is clear separation now between good teams and bad teams, with the exception of a few fairly uneven squads who can impress and disappoint all in one game. Oddsmakers are wise to this, so we have to be extra careful in placing our bets. Staying clear of the handicap betting is a good option, so veering towards unusual bets like home/away team total points, field goal length and others can be fruitful.
There are always cracks in the foundation that can be exploited, so let’s see what we can glean from the early Week 9 lines.
WEEK 8 RECAP
HIT: Longest successful field goal – Stephen Gostkowski (New England) vs. Miami @ 4/6
I told you Stephen Gostkowski wouldn’t let us down. After a couple of misfiring weeks on kicker bets, this one came up trumps. Miami’s offense was even poorer than I could have anticipated, and their kicker missed the only opportunity he had. Gostkowski, however, was not to be denied. As well as setting a new record for consecutive made field goals with the Patriots, he nailed a 52-yarder to put this bet in the bank.
HIT: Away team total points – Green Bay under 24 points at Denver @ 5/6
In what was a truly dominant defensive performance, the Broncos showed the doubters what they can do to good offenses. And that’s where I currently rate Green Bay’s offense, even with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. It’s good, not great, but that can change down the stretch. What will not change is how salty the Broncos defense is; they continue to play disciplined, generate pass rush and tackle well.
MISS: Home team total points – Oakland under 21.5 points @ 5/6
Trying to prognosticate the weeks when the Jets defense doesn’t show up is difficult, but in both this game and the home game against the Eagles they have just been poor. The touchdown to Taiwan Jones summed up their effort: missed tackle after missed tackle. Credit has to go to the Raiders for turning this thing around in a hurry, but New York needs to take a long hard look at themselves entering Week 9.
MISS: Detroit (+6) at Kansas City (in London) @ 10/11
Wow, this one was never even close. The Lions are playing like a team destined to fire their head coach. There is no passion, no fight and they seem to just be going through the motions on their way to a disappointing season. I’ll have to hold my hands up here; I expected a fightback, but it looks as if the curse of London has continued. The question is, will Jim Caldwell be given his marching orders?
SEASON TOTAL YTD: 19-12-1 (.593)
WEEK 9 PUNTS
St Louis at Minnesota – under 40.5 points @ 10/11
Minnesota has gone over the total only once this season (1-6) while St Louis is 2-5. It makes sense, therefore, that Vegas that adjusted this total way down to only 40.5 points. In some places it is down as far as 39.5, but even with such a small number it is still worth a play. These teams are conservative, close to the vest types on offense and stingy on defense. Points will be hard to come by, and both quarterbacks will be happy to put the game on their defense and running game.
Green Bay (-2) at Carolina @ 10/11
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is 0-2 ATS coming off Monday Night Football games, while Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is 2-0 ATS coming off a game in which his team’s winning streak is snapped (5 or more games). Numbers aside, this is an excellent spot for the Packers, who come off an embarrassing loss on the road to Denver. The Panthers had to battle the Colts to the death on Monday night and face into a short week of practice. Jump on Green Bay before this rises to three points.
Away team total points – Oakland under 22.5 @ 5/6
The Steelers have to be given credit for putting up stout defensive performances despite not boasting the best talent on that side of the ball. That comes down to coaching, and the coaches will have their hands full this week dissecting a multiple Raiders offense. Derek Carr looks very comfortable and has formed a nice rapport with first round rookie Amari Cooper. I am sticking with the trend here of strong defense at home for the Steelers. The Raiders also face a cross-country road trip, though they are 2-0 ATS as road underdogs this season.
Longest successful field goal – Robbie Gould (Chicago) at San Diego @ evens
This one is almost like stealing for a savvy kicker better like me. Well, perhaps I’m giving myself too much credit there, but Gould has been automatic this season for the Bears. In a game the road team could pull out of the fire, expect plenty of opportunities for points. Gould is 17 of 18 this season on field goals, so I like getting evens odds here.
WATCH LIST – SEASON-LONG BETS
Chicago Bears win total – UNDER 7
The Bears dropped a tight game last week against division rivals Minnesota to fall to 2-5. Losing an either/or game like that really helps this bet retain its viability, but John Fox deserves a lot of credit for getting a fight out of this team. A road trip to San Diego looms, but that is a game the Bears could win. The next few games don’t look too friendly apart from a home game against the – gulp – Blaine Gabbert-led 49ers.
Next five games: @ SD, @ STL, DEN, @ GB, SF
Tennessee Titans win total – OVER 5.5
With only one win through eight weeks, this bet is on its last legs. It’s not just the record, it’s how poorly this team is playing. Defensively they can be stout, but the offense needs a big spark. Marcus Mariota will return this week, but how much longer will Ken Whisenhunt keep the training bra on his rookie?
Next five games: @ NO, CAR, @ JAC, OAK, @ JAC
With Sam Bradford on a bye, Adrian Peterson was under the microscope and he did little to dissuade me that he will likely take this award. It was another solid performance against Chicago, but he may have a harder time against St Louis this week. Eric Berry is coming up on the outside, having enjoyed a stellar return since his recovery from cancer.
Make sure to check back next week for more betting tips ahead of Week 10’s slate of games. Follow me on Twitter @davlar87.