Walk the line
Your resource for picking the NFL’s games this week
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 15:09
We’re four days from most of this week’s NFL games and an early version of this week’s picks match the theme: Place your bets early in the week.
The lines are slim when they open. Vegas knows what the deal is, but it wants to get a feel for the games and then it will adjust accordingly. The point of a spread is to get an even split in the bettors’ action. If one team is receiving more action, Vegas will bump the line in an attempt to get more bets for the other team.
For example: Last week, the Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins game opened up at Redskins (-3). By kickoff on Sunday, the line moved all the way to Lions (-1) because Vegas realized the majority of bets were going to Detroit. If you realized early in the week that the Redskins – and their poor excuse for a defense – were the clear underdog, and you bet on Detroit, you got a sizeable advantage on the line and would have won handily (the Lions were victorious, 27-20).
The same goes for this week. There are a few lines that will undoubtedly go up as the week progresses.
Here’s some advice on which games to bet and how to beat Vegas to the punch.
Six-point teaser bet: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I nailed all three of these games last week (Atlanta +8, Denver -10, Chargers +9) given the six extra points, so let’s go for it again.
Indianapolis Colts (-9.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Colts’ doubters were plentiful after they lost to Miami inWeek Two. But a Week Three drubbing of one of the league’s top teams (San Francisco) earns back their promise. On the other side, the Jags are the worst team in football, and it’s not even close. Pick Colts -3.5
Cincinnati Bengals (-5) at Cleveland Browns: Here we have the ultimate overreaction game in favor of the Browns. A win last week over the Vikings earned them trust with Vegas – trust that I think is unjustified. The Bengals have a top-five defense in the league and just knocked off the Packers. They’re not losing this AFC North rivalry game to a bottom-five team in the league. Pick: Bengals +1
New York Jets (+4.5) at Tennessee Titans: The Titans aren’t great, but they’re legit, specifically because of their stout defense. But I’m not sold on their offense, and we know for sure the Jets have one of the league’s top defenses. Cheering for Geno Smith will be nerve-racking, but much like last week against San Diego, the Titans’ offense isn’t good enough to outscore their opposition by double digits. Pick: Jets +10.5
Over/under pick of the week: San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (43): This game marks the less-than-anticipated Thursday night game – a perfect time to unleash the ‘stat of the week’:
From 2002-11 (2,668 games), NFL games averaged a combined score of 43.06 points per game.
In 2012, NFL teams scored an average of 22.8 points per game, the highest total since 1965. Yet on Thursday night games, the combined score of games was just 37.85 points.
The takeaway: Teams stink on Thursday nights. The offenses aren’t given enough time to prepare, and it’s obvious both teams are struggling on just three days of rest.
Onto the game, the 49ers have scored just 10 points in their last two games combined, and the Rams scored seven points against the Cowboys last week. On a short week, I’m confident in the pick here. Pick: Under.
Line of the week: Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Houston Texans: It’s no secret the Seahawks are immune to defeat when playing at home. But are they really only three points better than the Texans on the road – a Texans team that was destroyed by Baltimore last week and nearly lost to Tennessee and San Diego in the two weeks prior? Houston’s offense isn’t what it used to be, and Seattle can exploit this more than anyone. The Seahawks will take a step forward in this game and prove they’re the best team in the NFL, whether they’re playing in Seattle or not. Pick: Seahawks.