I’m gonna try something new, put my gambling wares to the test and start writing mini previews of each week of the NFL slate. So I can point to a tangible, provable record, more than anything, displaying my general ineptitude when it comes to predicting the relative scores of football games. Or something.
Lines taken from Bovada at 12 noon on Sunday morning
NEW YORK JETS +10.5 over Denver Broncos
The Jets are generally a dumpster fire, no matter who will end up taking snaps from under center, and the Broncos are quarterbacked by Peyton F’n Manning. But 10.5 points is 10.5 points, an enormous figure in the NFL, and the backdoor cover potential is strong in this one. I just can’t lay that many points on the road to a team with a pulse and the Jets, for all of their warts, are a far cry from the Jaguars and Raiders of the world. Give me the points.
CLEVELAND BROWNS -1 over Pittsburgh Steelers
This line of thinking goes pretty simply. The Cleveland Browns are a better football team than the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns defense is bad, no question, but DVOA has them as the best offense in football and while that’s likely an exaggeration it’s plenty good enough to outlast the hated Steelers at home, especially with Ben Tate back. This game means more to Cleveland than it does Pittsburgh and, unlike in past years, the team quality is even at worst. Go Brownies.
Jacksonville Jaguars +4.5 over TENNESSEE TITANS
The Jaguars aren’t going to go winless. They’re bad, really bad even, but they’re not that bad. And playing against a team quarterbacked by Charlie Whitehurst, one week after blowing a 28-3 lead at home, seems as good a time as any to finally nail a paper airplane to that wood. Plus, Storm Johnson. A storm’s a-brewin. Other storm-related puns. Jags.
MIAMI DOLPHINS +3.5 over Green Bay Packers
More than anything else in this wide world of sports gambling, I adore home dogs. Home dogs who are coached by the former offensive coordinator of the opponent, coming off a bye week, watching their best RB come healthy in time to play are especially attractive. I’m not quite convinced the Dolphins have it in them to win this game, but it should be close at the least and the value is just far too good to ignore. This’ll be a trend, just wait, but I’ll take the points and the home team.
Detroit Lions +1 over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Hardest game of the week, by far. Idk.
CINCINNATI BENGALS -7 over Carolina Panthers
Another good old-fashioned shoulder shrug game, the Carolina Panthers are arguably the most bi-polar team in this league. However, if there’s any Golden Rule in the NFL right now, it’s that the Bengals always always ALWAYS cover at home, so long as the game takes place in the regular season.
BUFFALO BILLS +3 over New England Patriots
Home dog. Home dog. Home dog.
Also, the Bills shut down the run with the best of them and the Patriots’ offense has struggled all season when it can’t establish the ground game. The game means more to the rabid fans up in Buffalo. Also home dog.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +3.5 over Baltimore Ravens
Say it with me now. Home. Dog.
This is my favorite line of the week. The Ravens are overrated, simply not that good, while the Buccaneers are playing some inspired football since inserting, at long last, Mike Glennon into the starting lineup. Glennon is the league’s most underrated signal caller for my money, and at home, with the points on his side, I think it’s the obvious play. Don’t do me wrong, Glennon.
OAKLAND RAIDERS +7.5 over San Diego Chargers
Some amalgamation of my affection for home dogs and the dead cat bounce commonly found in teams with interim coaches, and that pesky half point that gives me the cover even if the Chargers win by a touchdown. This is the most contentious pick of the week for me, because I am gambling on the Oakland Raiders football team. This is never a comforting feeling. But I follow the points, especially at home.
Chicago Bears +3 over ATLANTA FALCONS
Bears > Falcons. +3 > -3. Jay Cutler > Matt Ryan. No, really.
The Bears’ biggest weakness, despite significant improvements in the area, remains run defense. Luckily the Atlanta Falcons still employ Steven Jackson as their primary running back, so the Bears should be alright there. Also, the Falcons defense is abhorrent. So I’ll take the better team, playing in a quasi-must win game, and take the 3 points as an added bonus. I took the moneyline, however, and I think the Bears win by 10 points.
Dallas Cowboys +9 over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Points, points, points. Points!
ARIZONA CARDINALS -5 over Washington Redskins
Carson Palmer’s back! Woohoo! This pick is essentially an anti-Kirk Cousins pick, although after Monday night maybe he isn’t quite as terrible as I thought.
New York Giants +3 over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Getting points, better team, better QB. We’ve been over this before.
San Francisco 49ers -3.5 over ST. LOUIS RAMS
Austin Davis vs. the San Francisco 49ers defense. Depleted and downtrodden as the Niners D are, that still is a far cry from a fair fight.
We’ll see how this goes. I wish I had done this all year, because I’ve generally had a good year gambling on this terrible, loathsome league, but alas this is my first week. So we’ll see how I do today and go from there.