NOTE: If you’re interested in my two cents on NFL lines throughout the week, tweet me @The_Tonian.
From a casual fan’s perspective, Monday Night Football’s Week 3 Raiders/Broncos matchup was a bore. Peyton Manning lit up the hopeless Raiders secondary and the game was never in doubt. What was in doubt, however, was just how much the Broncos would win by. The Broncos opened as a -14.5 point favorite, went as low as -14, and were bet up to -16.5 (-17 at some books) by kickoff. In the 4th quarter, the Broncos were “clinging” to a 23 point lead. Unless you had money on the game or fantasy football interests, you had zero reason to watch anymore.
For gamblers, however, there was still plenty of reason to watch. The Raiders turned the ball over on downs after multiple shots to score a “meaningless” touchdown from inside the Broncos red zone. Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense went into clock killing mode. From the looks of it, Broncos bettors and 2nd half under bettors were going to hold on. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), Montee Ball fumbled the ball back to the Raiders. The Raiders went on to score another touchdown. Bettors who had Raiders +16.5 or +17 got to celebrate. Those who backed the Broncos at -14 to -15.5 were still holding winning tickets. I personally got to celebrate getting lucky on my 2nd half Over 23.5 bet (there were 24 points scored in the 2nd half thanks to that late Raiders touchdown).
This poor schlub, not so much.
For what it’s worth, sportsbooks were not celebrating that Raiders touchdown, either.
Half the battle in sports betting is getting the best number. Sometimes it’s the opening number when it’s released. Other times it’s in the middle of the week after it’s moved some. Occasionally it’s best to wait until just before kickoff if you’re waiting on a number. It’s critical to learn how to read the market and know when to bet. This is a skill that takes time to master. Even professional gamblers can misread the sports betting market. However, they have enough experience and savvy to either not force a bet or to find a live betting opportunity should one present itself.
Recreational bettors often lack these skills. Many bettors only bet on the day of the games and end up with stale numbers or heavily juiced ones. Sometimes you can get away with getting a bad number. My early play on the Saints -7.5 last week was a prime example of this as I could have easily gotten -6.5 or -7. I misjudged the betting market as I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to get the Saints lower than -7.5.
In my opinion, the card for Week 4 presents less opportunity for early plays in comparison to Week 3. There are a few sides and totals I will keep an eye on. Here’s my breakdown. As always, these numbers may already be gone and are subject to move after posting.
1. 49ers at Rams: I remember my initial feeling of excitement when Thursday Night Football became an every week occurrence. Instead, we as fans are subject to a crappy product with players who are (understandably) still physically exhausted from their previous game. Like that awful Raiders/Broncos game, gambling and fantasy football is my only motivation to watch.
Pick: Under 43.
2. Steelers at Vikings: Oh, the game is in LONDON? YOU DON’T SAY! I still don’t give a shit. Anyways, the total went from 39 to 42 within minutes after it opened. The Steelers are now small favorites after opening as a small underdog. I’m curious to see if the public mushes the Steelers after their 2nd half “rally” and seeing the Vikings lose at home to the Browns. I see nothing to like here right now.
3. Seahawks at Texans: I follow a number of sharp sports bettors on Twitter and they LOVE the Texans catching 3 points. While I see where they’re coming from, I’m still debating on whether to back the Texans who may be missing Andre Johnson.
4. Giants at Chiefs: I grabbed a look ahead line of Giants +4 but this opened at 6 and got pounded down to 4. After staying away last week, I’m going to join the suckers who think that the Giants can’t be this bad. Pick: Giants +4
5. The Bills secondary is still depleted and the Ravens aren’t quite the same team away from home. Bills win this outright.
Picks: Bills +3.5 and Over 43.5.
6. Bengals at Browns: I’m on board the Brian Hoyer bandwagon. I got +5 early but would take it at +4 or better.
Pick: Browns +5.
7. Cardinals at Bucs: The Bucs outplayed the Patriots for most of the first half and still couldn’t score. Josh Freeman is close to being benched. The Cardinals are still awful. I don’t trust either with a 3 point spread.
8. Bears at Lions: After beating the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, I imagine the public will be on the Bears. If they’re getting 3, I don’t blame them. The line (at most books) is at 2.5 right now but I’m not sure it will hit 3 (without being juiced). I lean Lions if giving 2 or less. This will be a shootout.
Pick: Over 47.5.
9. Colts at Jaguars: Huge letdown spot for the Colts. I’m eyeing the Jaguars and the under (currently at 43) but will hold off for now.
10. Jets at Titans: While I buy the Jets defense, I don’t buy their offense on the road. This opened at 5 and has been bet down to 3.5. I lean Titans if you can get -3 and I’m eyeing the under (currently at 39).
11. Cowboys at Chargers: I’m kicking myself for not backing the Cowboys last week in what was a bad spot for the Rams (game before huge matchup versus the 49ers). I prefer to back the Cowboys as underdogs, although I did have them in Week 1 as a home favorite. But I have no faith in the Cowboys as a road favorite. Additionally, I lack faith in the Chargers. However, they’ve performed very well in the first half. At the time of this post, the 1H spreads haven’t been released but I’ll take a stab at what I anticipate will be Chargers pk or possible +0.5.
Pick: Chargers 1H.
12. Redskins at Raiders: Last week the Redskins resembled something similar to a NFL team for the first time all season. But I’m not laying 3 points here.
13. Eagles at Broncos: I lean Eagles at +10.5 but I’m sure there will be a live spot available to get a better number. I have no interest in touching the total which is at 57 already.
14. Patriots at Falcons: Interesting line movement on this game already. It opened at pick’em, moved to Falcons -1, flipped to Patriots -1.5, and is now currently Falcons -1.5. Several Twitter sharps I follow like the Falcons. However, I’m low on them. The Falcons defense is beat up, Roddy White is a shell of himself with a high ankle sprain, and the Falcons offensive line is a sieve. The Patriots have some injury problems of their own but they may be getting Rob Gronkowski back, which is huge for both their running game and passing game. I have no idea where this spread will end up. While I like the Patriots, I think this is another game where I can wait to bet it live.
15. Dolphins at Saints: At some point the Saints are going to be huge favorites when they play at home. The books only have this one at 6, partially due to Miami’s 3-0 start. Going to ride with the squares on this one.
Picks: Saints -6 and Over 47.
3-team parlay of the week: Giants +4, Browns +5, Saints -6
Week 3 Sides: 3-1-1; Week 3 Totals: 2-2
Season Overall Record: 5-3-1